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

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!

Dominic & Zoe

Hi Jennifer,

Wow WOW wow what a wonderful time we had. You did an incredible job. It was an amazing day and so so well organised. I didn't have to think about a thing.

The band where brilliant everyone is still talking about how good they where. The DJ was great and very chilled out. and the FLAMENCO was AMAZING!!! Well Dominic is now saying it was the best wedding present and one of the highlights of the day. I cannot believe then Dance until they are in pain, it adds to the emotion on their faces.
Like you said it gives you goose pimples.

You looked wonderful and all the guests said how great you where. You made the day so relaxing and easy for us. Thank you thank you thank you.
5.0
2017-08-11T09:57:07+00:00
Hi Jennifer, Wow WOW wow what a wonderful time we had. You did an incredible job. It was an amazing day and so so well organised. I didn't have to think about a thing. The band where brilliant everyone is still talking about how good they where. The DJ was great and very chilled out. and the FLAMENCO was AMAZING!!! Well Dominic is now saying it was the best wedding present and one of the highlights of the day. I cannot believe then Dance until they are in pain, it adds to the emotion on their faces. Like you said it gives you goose pimples. You looked wonderful and all the guests said how great you where. You made the day so relaxing and easy for us. Thank you thank you thank you.

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!

Victor & Cathy

We were so happy how the day went and that all ran so smoothly.  We and our guests enjoyed everything about the day,the music at the ceremony, entertainment for the evening, the food, the priest, the photographer,hairdresser etc.  And all of this was made possible by you so we would like to sincerely thank you for making this such an enjoyable day for us that we will cherish in all of our days.
5.0
2017-08-11T11:54:15+00:00
We were so happy how the day went and that all ran so smoothly.  We and our guests enjoyed everything about the day,the music at the ceremony, entertainment for the evening, the food, the priest, the photographer,hairdresser etc.  And all of this was made possible by you so we would like to sincerely thank you for making this such an enjoyable day for us that we will cherish in all of our days.

Kevin

5.0
2017-08-11T07:44:05+00:00
I have been to many weddings and this is by far the best ever!

Bart & Frank

Thank you so so much for such a fantastic wedding. Our guests say it was one if not the best they were ever at. I really really want to thank you. I can't help talking about you, and your incredible cars. You are excellent at your jobs and we would have no hesitation in recommending you. Every thing we needed wanted and enquired about you went above and beyond to help us. Our wedding was a massive success thank you.
As for keeping in touch of course. We will miss your emails and the buzz attached when receiving them.  https://youtu.be/BKG7_dfpX08
5.0
2017-06-09T10:32:11+00:00
Thank you so so much for such a fantastic wedding. Our guests say it was one if not the best they were ever at. I really really want to thank you. I can't help talking about you, and your incredible cars. You are excellent at your jobs and we would have no hesitation in recommending you. Every thing we needed wanted and enquired about you went above and beyond to help us. Our wedding was a massive success thank you. As for keeping in touch of course. We will miss your emails and the buzz attached when receiving them.  https://youtu.be/BKG7_dfpX08

Joey & Joanne

We cannot recommend Paradise Event Productions enough. It whas a stroll in the park from beginning to end. We chose them through a recommendation of a friend & we are so glad we did. everything was taken care of, from flowers, music, venue, transport church, paperwork, the bbq the following day to name but a few! The day itself was a total dream. from getting ready in the hotel, & making sure everyone (including me!) were on time for the church - it all went so smoothly, cava afterwards on the terrace & onto our fabulous venue. Paradise Event Productions thank you so so much for making it such a special & stress free day. We could not have done it without you, we will never forget you guys xx
5.0
2017-08-10T11:51:50+00:00
We cannot recommend Paradise Event Productions enough. It whas a stroll in the park from beginning to end. We chose them through a recommendation of a friend & we are so glad we did. everything was taken care of, from flowers, music, venue, transport church, paperwork, the bbq the following day to name but a few! The day itself was a total dream. from getting ready in the hotel, & making sure everyone (including me!) were on time for the church - it all went so smoothly, cava afterwards on the terrace & onto our fabulous venue. Paradise Event Productions thank you so so much for making it such a special & stress free day. We could not have done it without you, we will never forget you guys xx

Graham & Lynda

Well we are finally back in the land of the living after a wonderful honeymoon, but to be fair, nothing could top the amazing day we had on the 4th September!!!

We cannot thank you both enough for making it such a magical day, but most of all, we were overwhelmed by all the work and organisation you put into it – it meant that we had a hassle-free day that we enjoyed every minute of and our guests cannot stop raving about!!  From the Wally Trolley to the piper to the fairytale venue to the fireworks, everyone agreed it was the best wedding they had been to and Graham and I are convinced they are not just being polite!

Thanks again for everything you did for us, we are so very very appreciative and we wish you both the very best for everything in the future.
5.0
2017-08-11T10:10:37+00:00
Well we are finally back in the land of the living after a wonderful honeymoon, but to be fair, nothing could top the amazing day we had on the 4th September!!! We cannot thank you both enough for making it such a magical day, but most of all, we were overwhelmed by all the work and organisation you put into it – it meant that we had a hassle-free day that we enjoyed every minute of and our guests cannot stop raving about!!  From the Wally Trolley to the piper to the fairytale venue to the fireworks, everyone agreed it was the best wedding they had been to and Graham and I are convinced they are not just being polite! Thanks again for everything you did for us, we are so very very appreciative and we wish you both the very best for everything in the future.

Oliver & Alexandra

Thank you and all your team for helping make Alex and Oliver wedding day absolutely PERFECT!!!!!!

They had the best day ever and so did we, all the guests did too J

We will post a testimonial on your website but wanted to thank you ladies personally.

All the very best for the future and take care.
5.0
2016-11-01T11:51:25+00:00
Thank you and all your team for helping make Alex and Oliver wedding day absolutely PERFECT!!!!!! They had the best day ever and so did we, all the guests did too J We will post a testimonial on your website but wanted to thank you ladies personally. All the very best for the future and take care.

Matt & Laura

For a year and a half you guys helped us immensely with every aspect of our planning for our big day. No question was too silly or small and if you were busy, your lovely assistant Rob was always on hand and just as helpful. Swen helped us create exactly what we wanted from the smallest details to the really big! Even a month on, our guests are still talking about how amazing everything was and that it was the best wedding they've ever attended! As Swen has lots of experience he can really advise you of the best decisions etc. Swen has helped us make our dream a reality and we cant thank him enough for this.
5.0
2017-08-11T11:44:39+00:00
For a year and a half you guys helped us immensely with every aspect of our planning for our big day. No question was too silly or small and if you were busy, your lovely assistant Rob was always on hand and just as helpful. Swen helped us create exactly what we wanted from the smallest details to the really big! Even a month on, our guests are still talking about how amazing everything was and that it was the best wedding they've ever attended! As Swen has lots of experience he can really advise you of the best decisions etc. Swen has helped us make our dream a reality and we cant thank him enough for this.

Johnny & Nicola

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

Stuart & Lynne

Excellent support both before and on the day!
5.0
2017-08-10T12:02:00+00:00
Excellent support both before and on the day!

Daniel & Sarah

We don't know where to begin to thank you and everyone behind the scenes who helped out for the incredible all around effort. Every aspect of the wedding was expertly coordinated. 'Thank you' just doesn't cut it. Really. You went above and beyond. We couldn't imagine the day without your assistance.
5.0
2017-08-11T11:46:07+00:00
We don't know where to begin to thank you and everyone behind the scenes who helped out for the incredible all around effort. Every aspect of the wedding was expertly coordinated. 'Thank you' just doesn't cut it. Really. You went above and beyond. We couldn't imagine the day without your assistance.

Mark & Gráinne

We just wanted to e-mail you to say thank you.  I don't know where to start but from our first meeting back in October you have been excellent.  You really helped to make our special day extra special - it was like a fairy tale to us.  We are finding it hard to come back down to earth now after it all!

 

 You couldn't have been any more helpful and everything ran so smoothly on the day. Everyone commented on how hard you worked on the wedding day no-one could believe it - thank you.  The church was excellent, Casa, food, flowers, cars, music - there is nothing we would change.  It was just magical.  

 

Thanks a million!

 Gráinne and Mark
5.0
2017-08-11T11:52:50+00:00
We just wanted to e-mail you to say thank you.  I don't know where to start but from our first meeting back in October you have been excellent.  You really helped to make our special day extra special - it was like a fairy tale to us.  We are finding it hard to come back down to earth now after it all!    You couldn't have been any more helpful and everything ran so smoothly on the day. Everyone commented on how hard you worked on the wedding day no-one could believe it - thank you.  The church was excellent, Casa, food, flowers, cars, music - there is nothing we would change.  It was just magical.     Thanks a million!  Gráinne and Mark

Sam & Emma

It was Beautiful. On our special day, Rob made sure our day went perfect, and it really was. Our food was BEAUTIFUL!! All our guest's thoroughly enjoyed it. The Spanish Tunas made our day special too. Everything was Perfect!! We want to do it all again!!!!!! Maybe we'll return in 10 years for our renewal of our vows!!!!!!
5.0
2017-08-11T11:56:57+00:00
It was Beautiful. On our special day, Rob made sure our day went perfect, and it really was. Our food was BEAUTIFUL!! All our guest's thoroughly enjoyed it. The Spanish Tunas made our day special too. Everything was Perfect!! We want to do it all again!!!!!! Maybe we'll return in 10 years for our renewal of our vows!!!!!!
5.0
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