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Your Guide to Getting Married in Spain

Are you considering getting married in Spain? What a marvellous idea. You’ve probably heard all kinds of great things about the country and how wonderful it is to get wed there – and deservedly so! It makes so much sense – the place where people go for fantastic holidays, fun in the sun, lounging by the beach, how could it not be the perfect place for a wedding? It has all the pluses – just a short flight away, great weather, delicious food, and a huge choice of places. We asked Sue Thain from Lanzarote Weddings to tell us everything an Irish bride needs to know about getting married in Spain.

How to choose your wedding location

There’s plenty of advice out there about the best places to marry in Spain – even down to the specific cathedral and vineyard. You may want to start by simply thinking of what your dream place would be. Chances are your wedding is still some time away – why not book a holiday to a place other brides recommend? You’ll have a chance to enjoy a few days away and experience a location without the overwhelming hordes of tourists. Making the initial decision is easy – do you love the beach, or do you prefer a village? A vineyard or a city wedding? A bit of rustic or a touch of luxury? The type of wedding you like will dictate the location.

Sue who works in Lanzarote says, “most of our clients choose this area because of the location and climate. Basically, it’s like having a Caribbean wedding, but at lesser cost and without the long haul flight. The journey takes no more than 3.5 to 4 hours, and the weather is fabulous all year round.”

lanzarote-wedding

Image courtesy of Lanzarote Weddings

Hiring a wedding planner

It makes sense when you’re planning a wedding in a country where you don’t reside, don’t speak the local language and don’t know anyone at all, that you should have someone to take care of all the planning.

As soon as you have an idea about the type of wedding you’d like to have, look up some local wedding planners and be sure to check for any feedback they may have had online from other brides. But a word of caution – as with anything you read online, take it with a grain of salt. Sue says, “I often read through wedding blogs and forums online – people get so much misinformation from third parties on these, it is scary.  Also some of the suppliers who are recommended are not legally registered in Spain so there would be no recourse if they failed to deliver the service.”

A way to prevent a disappointment at best (and losing money at worst) is to hire a reputable wedding planner. Sue says: “a wedding planner has all the up to date information on legalities for different nationalities, contact details of where to obtain specific legal paperwork needed, plus they have a wide range of qualified suppliers whom can be guaranteed to be present on the day. They will also advise on the geography of the area. This is also very important for timings of transport and addresses, which do not always make sense in a foreign language. I have known Irish brides who reside here in Lanzarote who have organised their own wedding and bitterly regretted it as they have had to chase behind people all day long. It’s an endless chase after suppliers – something a bride shouldn’t have to do herself. We prefer to organise the kind of stress-free weddings where the couple just need to turn up to everything perfectly arranged according to their wishes.”

spanish-wedding

Image courtesy of Lanzarote Weddings

Best time to get married in Spain

For brides who need to keep an eye on the budget, a winter wedding in Spain is a wonderful idea. This can be anytime from November to March, and it doesn’t mean the sort of soggy, uncertain weather you often get in Irleand, the UK or Europe in general. The temperature in the Canaries, where Lanzarote lies, stays on average as warm as 18 degrees in December. In other regions of Spain it can dip as low as zero though – so it’s best to choose your winter wedding location according to the temperature.

As expected, summer weddings are more expensive with crowds on top of that. Generally, a good rule of thumb is that April, May, September and October are the best times to consider a Spanish wedding.

Smart brides always check the weather before they go gown-shopping – should you choose a very warm season, you’ll need a suitable dress option for yourself, and of course for your other half. It’s definitely a good time to check out some destination dresses, otherwise you’ll end up hot and uncomfortable – not ideal on your wedding day.

The legal requirements of getting married in Spain

As always, you have the option of having a small legal ceremony in Ireland, and then jetting off to your destination (to have a blessing by the sea for example) and do it in a grander style with all your friends and family about. This option is ideal if you weren’t going to have a Catholic church wedding – the only legally recognised ceremony available to foreigners.

Please note, the law is always changeable, so do allow at least 12 months to start your preparations, and always check with the Irish authorities in Spain on the latest legislature. Currently, civil weddings are only allowed for residents of Spain, so the only option remaining for a legally recognised ceremony is a Catholic church wedding. For this to take place, one of the couple must be Catholic and neither must be divorced. There’s a multitude of documents to be taken care of,  and after the wedding the marriage certificate must be registered with the local authorities. There is also a requirement to complete your pre-marriage wedding course.

wedding-in-lanzarote

Image courtesy of Lanzarote Weddings

All the wedding bits and bobs

You’ve probably already seen a thousand décor options for your reception, each prettier than the next. But, as we already mentioned when talking about weddings in Italy, it’s neither practical nor smart to carry all those things with you to the wedding. You can do two things – either show your wedding planner the look you’re going for (send photos of individual items or links to real weddings you love), or let the planner show you all the beautiful things she can do. In fact, we love this second option – there’s real beauty to be found among locally sourced decorations, adding that real touch of culture to your celebration and making it truly unusual.

The cost of a Spanish wedding

Sue says: “the costs depend on the time of year of course, and the most popular wedding I’m asked for is the beach one – the backdrop of the ocean, canapés and cocktails on the deck, with a BBQ reception followed by a party with live music and fireworks. Costs for this vary, depending on your ideal date. But don’t forget the winter option too, the prices will amaze you. Always ask your planner what out-of-season specials they can offer and for how many guests – you may find you’ll be able to invite more people than you thought possible.”

Finally, some useful links for further reading:

Irish citizens’ information on getting married abroad

Irish embassies and consulates in Spain

wedding-in-spain

Image from Viv & Rob’s real wedding in Estepona

Main image courtesy of costablog.com

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Rachel Green

Rachel Green

If you think the bride should always have the last word, then Rachel is on your side! A devoted fan of everything quirky, unusual, colourful or crafty, she loves scouting WOL's real weddings for unique and fun touches. When not gazing at pictures, she's dispensing no-nonsense advice on everything from reception entrance songs to bridesmaid problems.
Rachel Green

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