How do I get married in Spain?
Quite frankly, the process to get married in Spain can potentially be hugely frustrating, but once you understand the different options then it is easy to have a stress-free wedding in the Spanish sunshine.
What are the options for a wedding in Spain?
The options for getting married and having a wedding in Spain vary according to your residency status in Spain.
However, once you understand the difference between a “marriage” and a “wedding”, many more choices open up to you for celebrating your special day.
The difference between a marriage and a wedding
It is important to understand the difference between a marriage and a wedding in order to fully appreciate the alternatives that are open to you here in Spain.
A “marriage” is the legal contract, depending on where you come from, this most commonly comprises about 40 words plus your names, with a signed entry to a register witnessed by two people.
You can have a very basic contractual marriage without a wedding.
A “wedding” is the ceremonial celebration of the marriage.
Some people combine their marriage and their wedding on the same day, eg; in church with a religious wedding ceremony or in a hotel with a registrar and a non-religious wedding ceremony.
Other couples, separate the marriage from the wedding and have the ceremony of their dreams in the Spanish sunshine officiated by a Celebrant who can create a bespoke ceremony for them.
A civil marriage in Spain
In order to get married in Spain, at least one partner must have Spanish citizenship to contract a legal civil marriage before a judge, mayor or civil servant – note that a religious minister still has to register a marriage with one of the aforementioned local civil authorities in order to obtain a marriage certificate.
The Civil Registry portal of the Spanish government web site has basic information in English.
Here is detailed information in English about documentation needed to get married in Spain and the process that you need to follow, but do check with the local Ayuntamiento (Town Hall) or Registro Civil to ensure that the requirements are up to date.
This is the link to our local Registro Civil de Almuñécar.
A civil marriage in Gibraltar
If you are not a Spanish citizen but live in the south of Spain, you will find that the process for getting married in the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar is simple and stress-free, not just for British nationals, but for many other nationalities too.
You can make your application to the Gibraltarian registry office online and you can also submit your initial documents online too. However, you must remember to bring your original documents with you and present them to the registry office by at least 10:00h on the day of your civil marriage for verification.
Another prerequisite is that you provide evidence of at least one night’s stay in Gibraltar, most commonly the night prior to your marriage appointment.
The registrar in Gibraltar can officiate a basic marriage contract so that you can celebrate your wedding ceremony at another location (for example back in Spain) or they can extend their service to include a wedding ceremony at authorised premises on Gibraltar.
A destination wedding in Spain
By far and away the most popular option for couples who are not Spanish citizens is to contract their marriage in their home country and then travel to Spain for their dream wedding ceremony in the sunshine.
This is a symbolic way to “get married” in Spain and is known as a destination wedding.
A destination wedding will be officiated by a Celebrant – an independent officiant, who can craft a ceremony to include whatever elements are important to you.
As we have already learned, a destination wedding is indeed your “real” wedding day and can embrace whatever rituals, traditions, and wording are important to you as a couple.
Weddings, elopements, and vow renewals in Almunecar and La Herradura
Here in Almunecar and La Herradura, we have a fantastic wedding community with many wonderful suppliers and venues to support you and make your wedding, elopement, or vow renewal in the Costa Tropical really special.
You can choose a private villa or a hotel for your destination wedding ceremony or you may prefer a restaurant or beach chiringuito, on a boat at beautiful Marina del Este in La Herradura, or even a secret spot in the surrounding countryside, but do check if you need permissions first for a gathering in a public space.
Top tip! A local wedding planner can really be really worthwhile. They can take the stress out of organising your special day and getting all required permissions eg for a beach wedding. In addition, they can also communicate with local suppliers such as photographers, caterers, hairdressers, florists, musicians and beauticians on your behalf. A bridal hair stylist is helpful on the day and can work with the bride or the full bridal party.
One of the prettiest, and little known locations for a civil marriage ceremony, a symbolic wedding ceremony or both together, is at a historic pink mansion just one street back from the beach in Almunecar at the Palacete de La Najarra – which also doubles up as the Tourist Information Office!
The gardens of what is affectionately called “the pink palace” are a hidden tranquil paradise with fountains and a scaled playhouse built by the original owner for his children like something out of Alice in Wonderland. There is a fossil table that doubles as an altar space under the palm trees.
Inside the Palace are two rooms where you can hold your ceremony. One is very formal with intricate Alhambra tiled walls, stained glass windows, and houses the official council flags. The other room has a Moroccan influence with heavy oak furniture and views to the beautiful Palacete garden.
Finally here is some reassurance about socially distanced weddings in Spain.
However and wherever you decide to get married in Spain, we wish you a truly successful marriage and the most wonderful wedding day.
The local photos are credited to Toni Bonet.
Author bio: Debbie Skyrme is an award winning bilingual wedding celebrant living in La Herradura and officiating weddings, elopements and vow renewal ceremonies across southern Spain. Celebrant Spain website, Celebrant Spain Instagram, Celebrant Spain Facebook
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