Many of us visit Spain each year to lap up the sun, golden sandy beaches, fine cuisine and of course the rich culture which has been shaped over thousands of years.
But it's not just the tapas and sangria that draws foreigners to this beautiful part of the Mediterranean. Spain is actually a very popular choice for many looking to tie the knot and get married.
One thing that many couples worry about is the weather. After all, who wants to have the most sacred of days ruined by a torrential downpour or gale-force winds?
Fortunately, you shouldn't have any issues with the weather if getting married in Spain. With its 320 days of glorious sunshine each year, you are virtually guaranteed the perfect climate in which to say "I do".
Although getting married in Spain is a great choice, it doesn't come without its bureaucratic hurdles and hoops which the authorities just love you to jump through. We are talking about Spain after all!
There are a number of rules and stipulations that must be adhered to before you get married here. Frustratingly, the rules are also dependent on which region you get married in, whether you are resident or even if you are a practising catholic or not.
So whether you are looking for wedding ceremony on the beach in the warm evening sun or looking for a more traditional affair in a church, read on and find out more.
Different Types Of Wedding Ceremony
Catholic Church Ceremony
There is only one kind of religious wedding ceremony in Spain and that is a Roman Catholic one. If you want to get married in a church, at least one of the happy couple will need to be a practising Catholic.
As the arrangements for a Catholic wedding in Spain can take quite some time and include a lot of paperwork, a church wedding is more likely to appeal to somebody already residing here.
Another condition of a religious wedding in Spain is that you cannot have been previously divorced. Spain is a very religious country and marriage is seen as an extremely sacred event.
All church weddings in Spain are legally binding with the details officially registered at the local civil registry. Once registered, a marriage certificate can be issued.
If a church wedding does not appeal to you, or you would rather choose an alternative venue with an English speaking priest, a civil wedding ceremony may be the right way to go.
A civil ceremony in Spain, like a church wedding is legally binding and must be registered in the civil registry at the local town hall or Justice of the Peace.
It's worth bearing in mind that there are different rules and requirements depending on which region you choose to get married in. Make sure you do your research well in advance.
Although the civil wedding can be conducted in English, the legal signing and paperwork has to be done in front of a judge at the civil registry office (Registro Civil).
Many civil ceremonies in Spain are held in the courts or your local town hall and are conducted by the Mayor or an appointed councillor.
All documentation and certificates will be provided in Spanish only.
Although a wedding blessing is not a legally binding ceremony, it is one of the most popular choices especially for those who do not live here in Spain.
A blessing also offers the couple more flexibility in terms of venue and a greater degree of personalisation to the whole day. A church of England or other non-faith Minister may also be appointed to carry out the ceremony if required.
The legal side of the marriage must be carried out in the couples home country prior to the blessing.
Banns and Approval Times
It is important to note that if you are being married in Spain, there will be a minimum approval period of 21 days after application.
This is so that the Banns (public declaration of intent to marry) can be announced at the local town hall and your Consular office which allows sufficient time for the wedding to be contested.
Also bear in mind that once you have completed your application forms (not for a blessing), it can take up to 45 days or so before the forms are processed.
There are a few conditions that need to be met before you can be legally married in Spain.
For instance, applicants need to be over the age of 16 and living independently from their parents. Those between the ages of 16 and 18, will also require permission to marry from their parents.
As stated previously, foreigners may marry in Spain, but if choosing a church wedding, one of the couple will need to be a practising Catholic. Proof of this will need to be provided in the form of a certificate of baptism or letter from your parish priest.
If you do decide on a religious or civil ceremony, there are certain documents that you will need to provide during the process. The list below is only a rough guide and may vary between the different regions. Please check with the local authorities in your region.
- A current valid passport (for non-Spanish applicants) or NIE if resident.
- Original birth certificates, with Spanish translation if not already in Spanish.
- Proof of permission to marry (Certificado de Capacidad Matrimonial). Provide marriage and divorce, annulment or death certificates of any prior marriage.
- Certificate of residence (Certificado de Empadronamiento), proving residence in Spain of at least two years (Obtained from your Town Hall)
- Baptism certificate if choosing a church wedding.
Note: All foreign non-Spanish documentation will need to be translated and must not be more than three months old.
There are a number of English speaking companies in Spain who can do all the hard work for you, such as processing all of the paperwork and making all the necessary arrangements.
If you do not live in Spain, bear in mind that the process can be quite lengthy. In many cases, hiring a company here in Spain may help to save you a lot of time and unwanted stress. Your wedding day is supposed to be the most important day of your life afterall!
As ever, make sure that you do plenty of research, ask lots of questions, request testimonials and generally do all of your homework before committing to anything and parting with any money.
As an alternative, many people find that it is a lot easier to get married in Gibraltar and then spend their honeymoon in Spain. Read our Getting Married In Gibraltar page for further information.