Dream Weddings in Spain

Dream Weddings in Spain

Spain is fast becoming the destination wedding capital of Europe and Andalucia is cornering the marriage market with bells on.

WITH its enviable sunshine record, a nice day for a white wedding is virtually guaranteed in Spain.

Or indeed, any kind of wedding, since gay marriage was legalised in 2005.

In fact, more blushing brides, grooms and same-sex partners tied the knot in Andalucia than in any other part of Spain in the first half of last year.

The 12,078 happy couples know what we know: this part of the country is a magical place for any party, so where better to celebrate the most momentous occasion in your life?

Destination weddings have worked their way to the top of most courting couples’ wish lists. And with its reliable weather, swanky hotels, exotic locations and budget-friendly prices, Spain is well-placed to cash in.

Celebrities already know it as a place where you can walk down the aisle in style.

James Blunt’s Ibiza wedding
James Blunt’s Ibiza wedding

Opera singer Russell Watson wed in an extravagant Benahavis ceremony last August; James Blunt tied the knot with socialite Sofia Wellesley in Ibiza in 2014; following in the footsteps of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Status Quo’s Rick Parfitt popped over the border to Gibraltar in 2007 to marry wife Lyndsay in a nifty and thrifty €60 ceremony; seven years later, Parfitt’s son Rick Jnr. pushed the boat out with an extravagant ceremony in Málaga’s stunning Castillo de Santa Catalina.

Celebrity weddings have set the tone for a booming industry in Andalucia, which boasts several European ‘love capitals’ in its trousseau: gorgeous Granada, sultry Sevilla, romantic Ronda, charismatic Cadiz as well as the glitzy Costa del Sol.

With 320 days of sunshine a year and post-crisis prices still competitively low, there are some great deals around.

Sevilla was third only to Madrid and Barcelona for the number of weddings held between January and June last year according to Spain’s National Statistics Institute.

Wedding tourism is a growth industry, internationally worth around €14.9 billion, although not all the 60.8 million visitors flocking to Spain annually have cottoned on.

THE WEDDING PLANNER: Laura Charles

Reviva wedding planner Laura Charles has seen the market pick up impressively over the last three years.

“Destination weddings are 99% of our business now, and we are seeing a huge amount of people coming to Spain from all over the world to get married,” Charles told the Olive Press.

“I have planned weddings for people living and working in America, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai, many of whom had family in the UK and wanted to guarantee good weather – Spain is such a central destination.

“And there are so many beautiful places here and some fabulous suppliers, so who can blame them?”

AUTHENTIC CHARM: Nuptials at Hacienda San Rafael in Jerez. Photo courtesy of Anna Gazda
AUTHENTIC CHARM: Nuptials at Hacienda San Rafael in Jerez. Photo courtesy of Anna Gazda

True, the legal niceties of getting spliced in Spain can be a tangle of red tape for non-residents. For this reason, many ‘destination wedding’ couples do the official bit at home or were they were born, then head to Spain for the dream ceremony, whether at a gala dinner under the stars or beneath a floral bower on the beach.

Sandy feet aside, it is worth knowing that civil partnerships are only available to couples where one member has lived in Spain for at least two years.

But whereas new arrivals may struggle to get a civil partnership at the drop of a top hat, there are no such legal stipulations for Roman Catholic ceremonies.

Irish wedding planners in particular have cashed in on this loophole, Charles reveals. No less than 250 Irish people tied the knot in the first half of last year.

Blessings are another option popular with those who don’t want the religious pomp and circumstance but find a registry office ceremony about as exciting as going to the dentist.

TRUE BLESSING: Padre Peter and happy bride
TRUE BLESSING: Padre Peter and happy bride

There are several priests and officiators along the coast who offer blessings, among them local hero Padre Peter, who already has 57 weddings booked in for this year.

“For many couples, the ceremony I perform is far more valid than the dry legal formality of the civic registry,” Padre Peter told the Olive Press.

A working priest who has been a university tutor in World Religions, he has also provided Hindu, Jewish and Muslim ceremonies, and is nothing if not flexible and accommodating.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono
John Lennon and Yoko Ono

Other British expats in search of a more traditional experience opt to wed in Gibraltar, ‘a la John and Yoko – quick and convenient – or fly to Blighty for the ‘legals’ and hold the after-party back here.

In fact, with budget travel companies offering better deals than ever, your guests can likely fly to Malaga more cheaply than they can take a train to Gretna Green at certain times of year!

And with most obstacles that made a foreign tryst taboo swept aside, there are many more ways to get hitched in Spain, from a discreet poolside ceremony in a private villa to the full church Monty with all the bells and smells.

BEACHSIDE: Wedding set up at the Marbella Club Hotel.Photo courtesy of Anna Gazda
BEACHSIDE: Wedding set up at the Marbella Club Hotel.Photo courtesy of Anna Gazda

A swanky hotel wedding is another way to go and Marbella’s are renowned for their knockout nuptials, such as The Marbella Club, Finca Cortesin or the Castillo de Santa Catalina in Malaga, where Rick Parfitt Jnr plighted his troth under the auspices of Padre Peter.

Another favourite is the Tikitano Restaurant just outside Estepona.

Expats Seamus and Alena Hayes said ‘I do’ there in July 2014.

“Having the ceremony and reception in one place was a big attraction, and the wedding was set with a backdrop of the beach which was a dream come true for us both,” Seamus told the Olive Press.

Rancho del Ingles in Alhaurin
Rancho del Ingles in Alhaurin

“Having a Spanish theme was very novel for our overseas visitors, and eveyone really enjoyed the flamenco dancers!”

He continued: “Also, family and friends were able to stay in nearby Estepona and could meet up and spend quality time together. We wouldn’t have changed a thing!”

A wedding planner like Reviva can take care of the logistics, from organising the photography to flying out guests and extended families for a full-blown three-day affair.

The average wedding budget racks up an eye-watering €30,000, although many couples prefer to spend less on a more intimate, low.key event.

Sean Hepburn
Sean Hepburn

Low-key and low-budget may well have been what Audrey Hepburn’s son Sean was after when he rented out Granada’s Alhambra Palace for a concert in 2014, and allegedly got married in the middle of it.

The palace’s board accused him of using the concert to clandestinely stage the ceremony at the palace, which is not allowed, and which he denied.

It was not the only ‘first’ for Spanish weddings in recent history. Spanish bobbies Chema and Jonathan made history when they got hitched in full uniform at the country’s first ever gay police wedding in Jerez last September .

Spain’s wedding scene is certainly diverse. But that’s to be expected of a country celebrating 11 years of legalised gay marriage and touting itself as the LGBT fun capital of Europe.

Of the 67,869 people who married in Spain during the first half of last year, 1,803 were gay – still a minority, but a growing one.

Although 2006 was the busiest year for same-sex weddings, when uncertainty over whether the law might be repealed set off a stampede, the figures have averaged over 3,000 a year ever since.

But the marriage business in Spain is booming across the board.

NEW VENUE: Madrid
NEW VENUE: Madrid’s Finca Torre Arias

And with Madrid Ciudadanos councillor Sofia Miranda pushing for weddings to be held at the magnificent Finca Torre Arias, recently gifted to the town hall, Madrid will be able to compete with top destinations, like Florence, which raked in €100 million in weddings alone last year.

And no wonder, when couples can marry in settings as stunning as the Uffizi gallery.

Gay or straight, church or registry office, beach or banqueting suite, there’s never been a better time to get married in Spain.

Over twice as many people come from abroad to marry here as Spaniards go elsewhere to get wed, which rather speaks for itself!

pull-out-oneBouquet for the virgin

WEDDING customs vary across Spain and in some areas, for example, the bride offers her bouquet to the Virgin Mary; while in others it’s given to a best friend or thrown into the crowd.

It is also common to throw rice, not confetti, over the bridge and groom.

 

Plan for the heat

IN Andalucia, summer weddings unsurprisingly take place at around 7 or 8pm, after the oppressive heat of the day has subsided.

After a short wedding ceremony it’s usually off to a local restaurant – or ‘celebrations’ venue – for the set meal or buffet with plenty of wine that flows until the early hours until no guests are left!

What you need

pull-out-threeCivil marriage (non-Catholic):

In Andalucia the following are generally required, but do vary from town to town

  1. Birth certificate (with sworn translation)
  2. Passport
  3. Consular registration certificate
  4. Consular ‘no impediment’ to marriage certificate
  5. Proof of Spanish residency: through copy proving empadronamiento

Catholic:

The Archbishop has the final say but, generally required

  1. Baptism certificate
  2. Sworn declaration by parents that son/daughter is single

Alternatives

We recommend getting legally married in a (court house) of your country.  Then we can do a blessing ceremony in Spain

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Testimonials

Paul & Elaine

Thank you so much for everything you have done for us. We thoroughly enjoyed the wedding day and you did an excellent job with everything on the day and of course all the work over the last few months. We couldn’t have done it without you!
5.0
2017-08-11T07:56:34+00:00
Thank you so much for everything you have done for us. We thoroughly enjoyed the wedding day and you did an excellent job with everything on the day and of course all the work over the last few months. We couldn’t have done it without you!

 Conor & Diane

"We had the best day, our guests have been raving about it since and have complimented you on numerous occasions for how smoothly the whole day ran. 

Thanks so much for all your help over the last 18 months. Our wedding day could not have been any more perfect!"
5.0
2017-08-11T11:50:50+00:00
"We had the best day, our guests have been raving about it since and have complimented you on numerous occasions for how smoothly the whole day ran.  Thanks so much for all your help over the last 18 months. Our wedding day could not have been any more perfect!"

Ronan & Audrey

Hi guys, hope your keeping well? We 're just about getting back to normal life now. We've both been working constantly since we got back from the honeymoon! I just wanted to let you know that we had an amazing and absolutely unforgettable day. Thank you so much for all your help and support to make our wedding day so special!

5.0
2017-08-11T10:19:38+00:00
Hi guys, hope your keeping well? We 're just about getting back to normal life now. We've both been working constantly since we got back from the honeymoon! I just wanted to let you know that we had an amazing and absolutely unforgettable day. Thank you so much for all your help and support to make our wedding day so special!

Brad & Jen

I just wanted to thank you both again for such a fantastic, seamless, enjoyable day. Everyone had such a fantastic time - especially us. Though the lead-up to the wedding was a bit hectic, we'd happily do it all again - perhaps without moving house, job etc.
5.0
2015-05-09T11:34:42+00:00
I just wanted to thank you both again for such a fantastic, seamless, enjoyable day. Everyone had such a fantastic time - especially us. Though the lead-up to the wedding was a bit hectic, we'd happily do it all again - perhaps without moving house, job etc.

Siobhan & Craig

I would just like to thank you so much for all the hard work and the huge effort you put into our beautiful wedding, it was the most amazing day. Everything went perfect, from the venue, catering, minister, and the DJ was fantastic !  All our guests had a brilliant time.  Everyone commented on how hard you worked and how much they enjoyed it. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend your service to anyone, our wedding was without a doubt even better than we ever hoped or dreamed it would be.
5.0
2017-08-11T09:53:07+00:00
I would just like to thank you so much for all the hard work and the huge effort you put into our beautiful wedding, it was the most amazing day. Everything went perfect, from the venue, catering, minister, and the DJ was fantastic !  All our guests had a brilliant time.  Everyone commented on how hard you worked and how much they enjoyed it. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend your service to anyone, our wedding was without a doubt even better than we ever hoped or dreamed it would be.

Andy & Suzanne

A massive thank you to Paradise Event Productions.  From day one they were both so friendly and helpful, and they were able to make our day as special as we always hoped it would be, even on a relatively low budget.  When we decided to change our venue with 2 months to go they worked very hard to find us the most perfect replacement. All of our guests had a wonderful time, all said it was one of the most special wedding's they'd been to.  At times planning a wedding abroad might seem daunting but the team really made sure that everything ran smoothly both leading up to and throughout our special day.
5.0
2017-08-10T11:24:00+00:00
A massive thank you to Paradise Event Productions.  From day one they were both so friendly and helpful, and they were able to make our day as special as we always hoped it would be, even on a relatively low budget.  When we decided to change our venue with 2 months to go they worked very hard to find us the most perfect replacement. All of our guests had a wonderful time, all said it was one of the most special wedding's they'd been to.  At times planning a wedding abroad might seem daunting but the team really made sure that everything ran smoothly both leading up to and throughout our special day.

Joe & Claire

Thank you so much for making our wedding so stress free and easy. It was an amazing venue and everyone really enjoyed themselves, we couldn't have asked for more!
You made our day run so smoothly and thought of everything!
We are already looking forward to visiting next year.
5.0
2017-08-10T11:14:38+00:00
Thank you so much for making our wedding so stress free and easy. It was an amazing venue and everyone really enjoyed themselves, we couldn't have asked for more! You made our day run so smoothly and thought of everything! We are already looking forward to visiting next year.

Johnny & Nicola

Thanks a million, it was brilliant!
5.0
2017-08-11T08:10:52+00:00
Thanks a million, it was brilliant!

Roy & Anne

Thank you so much to you and all the team for your help in celebrating the happiest day of our lives. It's been a whirlwind since the week before the wedding until now.

The wedding day was amazing, the food was out of this world (thank to your canape recommendations). the photography you provided was amazing and video, then the band was awesome and the DJ turned out to be a blast. The staff stayed well into the night so we could enjoy ourselves to the fullest 🙂
5.0
2017-08-09T10:37:53+00:00
Thank you so much to you and all the team for your help in celebrating the happiest day of our lives. It's been a whirlwind since the week before the wedding until now. The wedding day was amazing, the food was out of this world (thank to your canape recommendations). the photography you provided was amazing and video, then the band was awesome and the DJ turned out to be a blast. The staff stayed well into the night so we could enjoy ourselves to the fullest 🙂

Karen & Dermot

Thank you for making our day special, our guests have commented on your professionalism and the way the day went so smoothly, there was a lovely flow to the day and evening!
5.0
2017-08-11T07:57:24+00:00
Thank you for making our day special, our guests have commented on your professionalism and the way the day went so smoothly, there was a lovely flow to the day and evening!

Steven & Martha

Our day was truly magical and stress free with thanks to Paradise Event Productions. Everything was so efficient and ran like clock work. The venue was perfect, food was excellent and service was impeccable. We never once worried or stressed over any of the arrangements because they were both so helpful and understanding. HUGE HUGE HUGE thank you and continue with your miracle work 🙂 love Martha and Stephen
5.0
2017-08-10T10:52:18+00:00
Our day was truly magical and stress free with thanks to Paradise Event Productions. Everything was so efficient and ran like clock work. The venue was perfect, food was excellent and service was impeccable. We never once worried or stressed over any of the arrangements because they were both so helpful and understanding. HUGE HUGE HUGE thank you and continue with your miracle work 🙂 love Martha and Stephen

Karen and Martin

I would highly recommend Paradise Event Planner as a service. All our questions were answered promptly and honestly during the planning. We always felt in control of our own decisions and yet appreciated the experienced advice provided. The attention to small details really made the day special. Your calm approach to a potentially stressful time helped to keep the nerves at bay. I was pleased that you allowed us lots of flexibility in our choices and didn't try to persuade us into anything we didn't want/need but appreciated your opinion when requested.
5.0
2017-08-10T11:55:45+00:00
I would highly recommend Paradise Event Planner as a service. All our questions were answered promptly and honestly during the planning. We always felt in control of our own decisions and yet appreciated the experienced advice provided. The attention to small details really made the day special. Your calm approach to a potentially stressful time helped to keep the nerves at bay. I was pleased that you allowed us lots of flexibility in our choices and didn't try to persuade us into anything we didn't want/need but appreciated your opinion when requested.

Eduardo & Lauriel

Dear Paradise Event Productions,
The holidays were busy, and so wonderful.  Now we're back to the real world and so happy.  What a perfect Wedding.  Thank you so much for all you did to help us coordinate everything and to make the day run just as we'd planned so that we could just relax and enjoy every moment.  You are fabulous, and we are so happy and grateful for all that you did for us.  Thank you!
5.0
2017-08-11T10:39:21+00:00
Dear Paradise Event Productions, The holidays were busy, and so wonderful.  Now we're back to the real world and so happy.  What a perfect Wedding.  Thank you so much for all you did to help us coordinate everything and to make the day run just as we'd planned so that we could just relax and enjoy every moment.  You are fabulous, and we are so happy and grateful for all that you did for us.  Thank you!

Malcolm & Lynne

Malcolm and I had a fabulous time at our wedding. Everything went according to plan. They did not only made the whole day run smoothly but it was the extra effort they made for us that we really appreciated.
The flowers were amazing. I was totally overwhelmed by them. It was the only thing i really didn't want to compromise on and my choice of flowers were not available locally. They sourced them for me and they came all the way from South Africa!
It was a stress free experience for us and we would recommend any of our friends to get married with your help!
5.0
2017-08-10T11:33:22+00:00
Malcolm and I had a fabulous time at our wedding. Everything went according to plan. They did not only made the whole day run smoothly but it was the extra effort they made for us that we really appreciated. The flowers were amazing. I was totally overwhelmed by them. It was the only thing i really didn't want to compromise on and my choice of flowers were not available locally. They sourced them for me and they came all the way from South Africa! It was a stress free experience for us and we would recommend any of our friends to get married with your help!

Stephan & Marta

Our day was truly magical and stress free with thanks to your coordinator and staff. Everything was so efficient and ran like clock work. The venue was perfect, food was excellent and service was impeccable. We never once worried or stressed over any of the arrangements because they were both so helpful and understanding. HUGE HUGE HUGE thank you and continue with your miracle work 🙂 love Stephan & Marta
5.0
2013-08-10T06:54:01+00:00
Our day was truly magical and stress free with thanks to your coordinator and staff. Everything was so efficient and ran like clock work. The venue was perfect, food was excellent and service was impeccable. We never once worried or stressed over any of the arrangements because they were both so helpful and understanding. HUGE HUGE HUGE thank you and continue with your miracle work 🙂 love Stephan & Marta
5
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