Help! What kind of wedding ceremony do I want?

Friday, 05 June 2015 00:00

Photo credit: Bob Long


You want to get married in the sun and you love the idea of a relaxed, fun day in Spain soaking up the sun, marrying the one you love and giving your friends and family a holiday into the bargain. You know the kind of venue you like - be it hotel, villa, restaurant or beach bar - but then get stuck on the ceremony. This is not unusual as there is often confusion about the types of ceremony possible for couples marrying here in Spain. In this week's blog therefore we are looking at all the possibilities for your Big Day.

Traditional Catholic ceremony
Possible if one or both of you are Catholic.* Catholic weddings have the advantage of being legally binding providing you do the paperwork required as we can then register them civilly. They are less flexible than blessings however as they must take place in a consecrated Catholic church and the ceremony is the set marriage ceremony for Catholic weddings.

*NB: This applies if you are from Europe. US and Canadian residents and citizens need a civil ceremony in their home country even if they are both Catholic.

Wedding blessing
The blessing ceremony can take place in any location of your choosing and is usually followed by the celebration at the same venue with family and friends. Blessing ceremonies look and sound the same as a "normal" ceremony so your guests will not know it is not legally binding unless you wish to tell them. Many couples actually feel this is the real ceremony in that it is the personal and meaningful commitment to each other while the registry office ceremony was a formality which does not have the same emotional power.

The ceremony can take any of the following forms:

  • Humanist/Secular - no mention of God or religion, simply about your personal commitment to each other.
  • Interfaith - a ceremony combining elements of a religious faith with secular and personal traditions and readings.
  • Christian - the ceremony can follow a traditional Christian format eg: Church of England or be more broadly Christian and incorporate prayers and readings of your choosing.

Other faith ceremonies such as Jewish and Muslim can also be celebrated but are not legally binding so a civil ceremony in your home country or country of residence is also needed to legalise your marriage.

Civil ceremony
If one or both of you are resident in Spain and have been resident for two or more years then it should be possible for you to have a legally binding civil ceremony. This type of civil ceremony is usually conducted at the town hall (Ayuntamiento) in the area in which you are resident. As the legal civil ceremony is usually fairly short (10 - 15 minutes) and quite impersonal most couples also choose to have a Wedding Blessing and celebration.

Remember it’s your day and the ceremony is a vital part of this so it is worth considering the options carefully so you and your loved one can really enjoy every moment!


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