One of the most frequent questions I hear as a Celebrant working in Spain is will my wedding be legal? I’ve written about this before but thought it was time to go over it again, so here we go! As with most European countries, in Spain, the marriage and wedding are separate. The legal part of a wedding, “the marriage”, is where you say the legally required and binding words. You will do this in front of witnesses, and sign the legal documents at town hall. Then you’re free to go celebrate your wedding day as you want.
Two ways to have a legal wedding!
There are two ways to have a legal wedding in Spain. Although it’s a little complicated, it’s possible! One is having a civil ceremony if either of you has been residing in Spain for at least 2 years. The other is getting married through the Catholic Church where residency isn’t an issue. However, you’ll need to get special permission from the Bishop of the diocese where you want to marry.
List of documents required
The list of documents required to apply for a marriage license in Spain is fairly long but necessary. You’ll be required to present originals or certified copies. You must have them translated by the appropriate authorities and they can then be endorsed with an apostille. If you meet the criteria for a civil wedding you’ll need to provide the following:
• Full Birth Certificate showing both mother’s and father’s names
• Certificate of No Impediment / Certificate of Freedom to Marry
• Certificate of Marital Status (Certificado de Estado Civil)
• Divorced – you’ll need copies of your Decree Absolute and previous Marriage Certificate
• If you’re a widower, you’ll need to provide the Death Certificate of your previous spouse as well as
the Marriage Certificate
• Have you changed your name by Deed Poll Certificate? – You’ll need to provide this
• Were you adopted – you’ll need to provide your original Adoption Certificate
• You’ll need to provide your (Certificado de Empadronamiento or “Padrón”) which will have been
issued by your local town hall.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, as the person who doesn’t meet the residency criteria will need to apply for residency. Laws and the forms required will differ depending on the area in Spain you’re looking to live and marry. I advise you to check requirements carefully.
The best way to have a destination wedding in Spain is actually quite easy. Do some research and get creative, do the legals at home! You know your local laws, what to do and where to go. In the UK you can head over to your nearest Register Office for a basic ceremony that’ll cost about £50! You’ll be needing two witnesses to go along with you. Or, why not take a quick trip to Gibraltar which borders Spain and does legal weddings just like the UK!
Also, if you ever lost your marriage licence you’ll be able to get a copy quickly, It’ll take substantially longer in Spain if you don’t speak Spanish! Once the legals are done, hop on a plane to Spain and celebrate your wedding ceremony when, where and how you wish.
If you’re looking for the flexibility to choose your wedding day and date, then an independent celebrant is just what you need! You can have a small intimate affair with family and close friends, or make it more extravagant by inviting everyone along. It doesn’t even have to be held at a licensed venue either- anything goes as long as has been booked ahead of time!
You want a wedding that is uniquely yours, a day to remember for the rest of your life. One where you can be sure everyone has had fun too! Whatever kind of ceremony you are looking for, a celebrant will create a ceremony encapsulating your own unique style, leaving a great impression on your guests long after the speeches are done and the cake eaten!
So, contact me here to find out how I can help you with a ceremony that is uniquely yours.