Wedding: Planning a Wedding in Spain (Part 1)

by - Thursday, November 05, 2015

Planning a wedding abroad is rapidly becoming the ‘in thing’ with newlyweds nowadays, not only are you more likely (okay more or less guaranteed) to have nicer weather but the overall wedding costs are a lot cheaper. Well for the Bride and Groom anyway. Win! Usually, when choosing to get married abroad you would have already had a location in mind. This maybe your favourite holiday destination, somewhere that is connected to you personally or you may have family and friends there. Some of the favourite destinations (or the ones that I see pop up the most) are Spain, Italy, Santorini, Cyprus or the French Provence. Wherever you decide , the most important thing is make sure it’s exactly how you want it and you do your research!

I think it’s quite obvious – especially if you’ve been reading my other wedding posts – that I am getting married in Spain (actually when this post goes live, we will already be married! Eeek) We chose the destination after umming and arring about where to get married as neither of us could decide on a UK venue. We had travelled on many occasions to visit my family who live in Spain and it hit us, the idea to have our wedding on the Mediterranean coast seemed perfect. Not only would we have nice sunny weather, it’s an excuse not to over invite people (as we all know, at weddings you end up inviting people you don’t actually want there) and we would get to enjoy a long break either side of getting married. Wahay! Also, the financial element is a lot cheaper than a typical UK wedding. I am not going to disclose the actual costs (being a lady and having some etiquette an’ all that) but put it this way, if we had our exact wedding with the type of food, drinks, venue, decorations in the UK it would have cost us nearly double what we have paid. Uhuh, BIG saving!

Back onto dreaming about having the perfect venue, delicious food and that beautiful Mediterranean sun! Sadly, it was – at first- exactly that. A dream. But I never actually thought about how to plan a wedding in Spain, or even where to start. Not only is there a language barrier (as my Spanish resembles Joey Tribbiani’s French) but there are so many unwritten rules and regulations that you need to follow. Yep, I wasn’t aware either. But luckily for you, I have learnt all the tricks from planning my own wedding that I can help you (hopefully) make your dream wedding in abroad a reality.


The biggest, and most important thing is the legalities. If you, nor your partner are Spanish or have been a legal resident in Spain for at least 12 months then you won’t be able to have a legal wedding in Spain. Which will also mean that your marriage will not be legally recognised in the UK. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean your dream wedding is completely out of the equation but there are a couple of options for you.


For me and my fiancé, neither of us are Spanish nor have we been a legal resident in Spain so this means that our wedding isn’t technically legal. But no-one will know that! We are just having our legal ceremony at a Civil Registry Office to basically dot the I’s and cross the t’s. This can actually be done either before or after your wedding, it doesn’t matter when. Obviously the wiser choice would be to do it before you have your wedding abroad as then you will be “officially” married but it’s your choice and you do what is right for you and your partner. This also means you don’t need to pay for fancy Spanish solicitors, priests or officiants as you can have anyone you want conduct your ceremony, as in legal terms, it’s more of a blessing than a wedding. We have decided to have my fiancés brother be our officiant as it gives him a really important role and its more meaningful for us to have someone that knows us and knows our history, to marry us. But don’t worry, not a single soul will need to know that your wedding isn’t legal as the whole ceremony will be exactly like any legal wedding.


This option isn’t always as easy as you think. In our case it worked out to be realllyyy expensive as long story short is, we would have to find a priest of officiant that is legally licensed to marry you. Pay for their travel and accommodation to bring them to Spain to marry us. Yup, exactly. So this was a no-no for us. BUT you can call the Spanish Embassy or a Spanish/UK Civil Registry Office who may be able to point you in the direction if you wanted to go down this route.


If you are wanting Spain to legally recognised in the UK you could arrange for a Spanish solicitor to help with all the legal paperwork. You will may also need to contact your local Consulate (or town hall, registry office, court or religious authority) in the place where you are planning to get married. They will be able to tell you all documents and steps that you will need to take. Any EU citizen can legally get married in Spain, it has to meet the full requirements of the Spanish Law (as if you was a Spanish citizen) so it’s just weighing up the paperwork and the costs.

Sssh. Sneak peak of our venue ;) - Image Source Salones Carrasco


Before finding your venue, have a think beforehand about what type of venue you want. It could be anything from a Church/Cathedral, an old Castle, a fancy hotel by the sea or your favourite restaurant on the beach. Choosing wedding venues in Spain was very difficult as their traditions of marriage aren’t the same as the UK, so many venues may not know how to cater or host your wedding. You’ll end up thinking about what is convenient and ideal for guests rather than what you want. BUT if you do your research you will be able to find something both ideal for guests and something perfect for you. Luckily for us, we were familiar with the area so we was able to find something close to where guests could be staying, suitable for children as we anticipated most families would want to make it into a holiday and suit our ideal wedding perfectly.

The easiest option for us was to consider having our wedding in a hotel. The hotel we viewed had the most perfect location as it was right on the beach front and you would get say your vows with the sea behind you, dreamy! But it wasn’t really what I had imagined, I couldn’t actually picture us getting married there as it seemed too “basic” for me, the food was a really basic Spanish buffet mainly including paella, tapas and a range of salads. Blahh! And the general décor was very, boring. It reminded me of a registry office in the UK and I didn’t like the fact that other holiday makers would be staying and could possibly end up watching our wedding. We wanted it private, for us and our family and friends. So back to the drawing board!

After a suggestion from my Auntie about a cute little vintage Spanish restaurant near her home, we decided to go and have a peek – seems we had nothing to lose. Turning up at the venue, we were amazed how different it was compared to others we’d looked at. It was completely beautiful! The inside was a vintage style Spanish restaurant with tiled floors, big pillars and a magical ambiance. We were then shown the court yard where the ceremonies are usually taken place had a beautiful fountain near where you’d say the I Do’s and gorgeous scenery around. I was a complete Cheshire cat walking around this venue, it was the total package, it was the ONE!  Okay, enough of me waffling about what we decided instead I have a few tips to consider when choosing your venue.


I know we have covered my experience above, but with that in mind I would recommend not only researching potential venue’s but also viewing different types from hotels to restaurants or churches to castles, viewing a variety of venues will help in your decision making as if anything it will tell you what type of venue that you don’t want to have. If you are not local to the area where you are getting married but struggling to find your perfect venue, have a word with the locals. Pop into shops or restaurants that you love and see if they can help recommend some of their faves. If you are struggling for ideas and fancy a posh hotel type venue, take a look at the Barceló hotel franchise as their hotels are GORGEOUS.


You may already have a date in mind, this maybe something personally connecting your relationship or a special date which you want but you need to consider possibly compromising for a wedding abroad. Especially if your oh so special date is in the peak of the Mediterranean heat then maybe it’s possibly wise to change the date to an off peak season, ya’no just to be sensible. think of the wedding dress + pretty shoes + the heat = no so attractive sweaty bride. Just a thought (this was exactly my thought). Some of the “cooler” but still warm months in Spain are April/May or September/October, which is why we chose October. It makes it even better that the weather in the UK will be naff so it makes that trip abroad that little more enjoyable.


Okay, so this is kinda more about generic tinterweb information BUT you can’t get enough of Tripadvisor and Google when looking for venues in certain locations. Tripadvisor is great as it uses key words so even if the review is of a restaurant but a wedding was hosted there, then the review will come up and you’ll be able to have a nosy. I was also told about a “Connect” group on Facebook with all the residents of the town where we are getting married and they are so helpful, you can post a message to ask for advice or if you are looking for a certain person e.g. photographer then you can pop a message in and you will be sent lots of links or contacts, so it’s worth finding out whether there is this kind of group for your location. If all else fails, just search google as I was able to find countless blogs, tip websites that helped me in knowing what to look for, where to look and suggestions of venues. Hoorah!


Okay, so I don’t have any tips about hiring a wedding planner as I haven’t used one. And I am glad I didn’t because everything has been done through us and we have decided every last detail and used our own ideas. BUT if you are wanting a little extra help then instead of paying over the odds and commission in hiring someone to do it, then you can download a wedding planner app – yes you heard me – an app that basically reminds you of all the little bits that you may forget to include in your big day. I have downloaded and used an app, but fortunately for me our wedding venue owner is also somewhat like a wedding planner for us and she has been a massive help in organising our wedding and giving us ideas etc. I found out that this is something that is quite common with Spanish vendors so make sure ask the question as you never know what you could be missing out on.

Whatever you choose it’s important to do what you want to do and what’s right for you. After all, it is your day!

I really hope some of these tips have helped you in the preparation of planning your big day. If you have any tips that may help then please leave a comment as both my readers and I would certainly appreciate them. And stay tuned as I will be completing Part 2 of this post shortly which will be filled with all the interesting details of flowers, favours, cake and how to make it cheaper for your guests!

*Disclaimer: Images used in this post are sourced from Pinterest, with the exception of the photo of our wedding venue which has been provided directly from the owner. 

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