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

        

 

Testimonials

Shane & Aideen

We would just like to thank you so much for all your hard work and all the effort you
put into our beautiful wedding, the music, the hotel, the meal, organizing everyone which was a job in itself! You kept everyone, including myself so calm. We had such a great time and everyone loved the day from beginning till the end, and they all had wonderful things to say about you. How you looked after people in the hotel on the day. Thank you again for the wonderful memories and time we had. I have nothing but the highest of praise for both you and the hotel staff.
5.0
2017-08-11T08:38:11+00:00
We would just like to thank you so much for all your hard work and all the effort you put into our beautiful wedding, the music, the hotel, the meal, organizing everyone which was a job in itself! You kept everyone, including myself so calm. We had such a great time and everyone loved the day from beginning till the end, and they all had wonderful things to say about you. How you looked after people in the hotel on the day. Thank you again for the wonderful memories and time we had. I have nothing but the highest of praise for both you and the hotel staff.

 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!"

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

Kevin & Isabel

Well we are finally back in the UK and have 5 minutes to sit down and think about our big day, WOW what a great job you did for us, we really appreciated all your help and it could not have run so smoothly if you were not there to help. Every single person we spoke to has said that it was the best wedding that they have ever been to and the friends who live in Mojacar have said that it was the best night out they have ever had !!!! So you all deserve a well earned pat on the back and a big thank you again from us both. We would highly recommend Paradise Event Productions to anyone who is looking to get married and that we would like to thank you again for all your help and support.
5.0
2015-06-09T09:11:08+00:00
Well we are finally back in the UK and have 5 minutes to sit down and think about our big day, WOW what a great job you did for us, we really appreciated all your help and it could not have run so smoothly if you were not there to help. Every single person we spoke to has said that it was the best wedding that they have ever been to and the friends who live in Mojacar have said that it was the best night out they have ever had !!!! So you all deserve a well earned pat on the back and a big thank you again from us both. We would highly recommend Paradise Event Productions to anyone who is looking to get married and that we would like to thank you again for all your help and support.

Mark & Ciara

Thanks so much for the well wishes, we had an absolute ball, a big part down to your amazing work. Everything went off without a hitch, our friends are still talking about ‘the best wedding they’ve ever been to’!! Everything ran so smoothly and it was such a relaxing day knowing that Joan had everything sorted in advance, so reassuring. 
5.0
2017-08-11T11:39:32+00:00
Thanks so much for the well wishes, we had an absolute ball, a big part down to your amazing work. Everything went off without a hitch, our friends are still talking about ‘the best wedding they’ve ever been to’!! Everything ran so smoothly and it was such a relaxing day knowing that Joan had everything sorted in advance, so reassuring. 

Dave & Orla

We just wanted to say thank you for making our day, you were really
wonderful!  You took all the worry out of everything and left us free to
relax and enjoy the day.
5.0
2017-08-11T08:15:54+00:00
We just wanted to say thank you for making our day, you were really wonderful!  You took all the worry out of everything and left us free to relax and enjoy the day.

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.

Jonny & Emma

Thank you for making our wedding in Andalusia such a wonderful experience. We would recommend Paradise Event Planner to anyone looking for a smoothly run, friendly and professional wedding planning service. A very big thank you to both Swen and Rob for all their efforts!! The attention to detail was second to none. Thank you!

5.0
2017-08-11T11:09:00+00:00
Thank you for making our wedding in Andalusia such a wonderful experience. We would recommend Paradise Event Planner to anyone looking for a smoothly run, friendly and professional wedding planning service. A very big thank you to both Swen and Rob for all their efforts!! The attention to detail was second to none. Thank you!

Gavin & Sarah

Thank you again!

We really did have a perfect wedding. We are so happy with how it went and friends and family are still texting and emailing saying what a great time they had.

Back at work since yesterday which is tough but going to plan a honeymoon for later in the year so that will keep us going.
5.0
2014-09-09T10:50:54+00:00
Thank you again! We really did have a perfect wedding. We are so happy with how it went and friends and family are still texting and emailing saying what a great time they had. Back at work since yesterday which is tough but going to plan a honeymoon for later in the year so that will keep us going.

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.

Colin & Sheena

A huge thanks to you again for such brilliant organisation, without you it would not have been the day it was. What can I say, you were great. 
5.0
2017-08-10T11:54:06+00:00
A huge thanks to you again for such brilliant organisation, without you it would not have been the day it was. What can I say, you were great. 

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!!!!!!

Michael & Claire

I just wanted to thank you both for all you help and support planning the wedding, you did an amazing job and the wedding day was everything I wanted and more. All the guests commented at how smoothly every stage of the day went and that the day flowed perfectly so thank you so much, it really was the best day! I want to do it all over again now!! Thanks so much.
5.0
2016-09-09T09:25:47+00:00
I just wanted to thank you both for all you help and support planning the wedding, you did an amazing job and the wedding day was everything I wanted and more. All the guests commented at how smoothly every stage of the day went and that the day flowed perfectly so thank you so much, it really was the best day! I want to do it all over again now!! Thanks so much.

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!

Kevin

5.0
2017-08-11T07:44:05+00:00
I have been to many weddings and this is by far the best ever!
5.0
15

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