If you are planning on getting married in Spain, then it’s best to prepare significantly in advance and make the important decisions early on. The first question is if you are looking to complete the legal / civil wedding ceremony in Spain, or in your own country, with a blessing ceremony in Spain later on. Spain has strict rules on wedding ceremonies, so a quick ceremony with all the legal elements is not possible.
Different Spanish cities have different requirements and some require you to fulfill certain Spanish residency requirements. The bureaucracy can be considerable and it may take a few months to obtain all the documentation you need from different authorities if you wish to have the full legal ceremony here. If you are already a resident of Spain, this presents less of a problem, but sufficient time still needs to be allowed.
When considering the venue you wish to marry in, if you have the chance, visit the venue in advance (preferably incognito), to try the food, sample the ambience, and importantly see how friendly people are. If anything triggers alarm bells, then go with your instincts and if you love the venue, apart from one small thing, discuss this with them to see if there’s a way around it. If you are Catholic and wishing to marry in a Catholic Church, then make sure you are aware of the necessary procedures there.
The venue for your ceremony may or not be the hotel where you are staying. Given that your guests may well stay at the same hotel, ask for reduced rates, or a special deal, particularly if you are a large party.
If you’re planning an outdoor wedding, then have a contingency plan, particularly if your ceremony isn’t in the summer. Despite the impression the tourist industry likes to give, it can rain in Spain and not just on the plain.
If you’re having an outdoor wedding in the summer, then you also need to factor the heat into your plans – it gets very hot during the day, therefore consider the following:
o Starting the ceremony in the evening when the day is cooler.
o Making sure water is available for the guests and perhaps a source of shade.
o Don’t offer alcohol too early in the proceedings, so people don’t dehydrate too quickly during the hottest part of the day.
o Consider the bride and groom’s outfits carefully, as well as those of the bridesmaid’s, so you are comfortable on your special day.
For caterers or other suppliers, it’s best to get agreements in writing, even if there is no trust issue, this helps you and them to gain clarity on what is needed. Be willing to ask suppliers plenty of questions until you’re clear that your needs will be met and give them as much notice as possible, so they will be prepared. You may also want to take out insurance, as you can never fully anticipate what will happen.
Once you have confirmed the venue and date, send out “save the date” cards to your guests. You can always send out a second invite with full information and this courtesy allows guests to organise annual leave, find cheaper flights and arrange suitable accommodation.
Consider creating a website to post important information with the details of your special day. If you are having a particularly large wedding, or if you don’t speak Spanish, then you may wish to hire a wedding organiser. This can take a lot of the stress out of the preparation and a wedding organiser can also help to get the necessary paperwork together.
Do what you can to make guests feel comfortable about their role – if you’re inviting someone to sing or give a speech, check that they are sufficiently confident to talk in front of a group of people or that they can actually sing.
Build some time into your plans for your own emotional well-being and if possible the chance to relax the day before your wedding. Everyone is both nervous and excited on their wedding day and allowing some extra time helps reduce the nerves and also means if there are any delays, you will still be on time to walk down the aisle.