Spain is predominantly a Catholic country and it's churches still play a big part in the communities. As long as one of you is Catholic and you are coming from another EU country, such as Ireland for example, then it is possible to get married officially in a Catholic Church in Spain. We would totally recommend the assistance of a locally knowledgeable wedding planner to help you through the procedure, paperwork and translation. Every church here in Spain may have differences in their booking procedures and also in what may, or may not be allowed within the service.
You will first need to locate the Church you are wanting to marry in, a list of Catholic Churches can be found here, but they will not all be able to conduct your ceremony in English. There are many along the Coast that will though, Marbella Bride can advise you on the best options for your Church wedding in the Malaga province of Spain. Quite often a personal visit to the Church is required to check the date is available and to provisionally book the date with the priest, but some may be able to do this via telephone, bearing in mind good Spanish will be required. It's often the wedding planner's job to provisionally check the dates for you, you may need to sign a paper giving your wedding planner permission to deal with the church proceedings on your behalf, in some cases, that can save you several trips back and forth to Spain too!
Next, you will need to visit your home Parish and begin the paperwork with your local Priest, you may also have to attend a marriage course, although this certificate is not needed in Spain. All the paperwork may then need to be officially translated into Spanish and then your priest will send this to the Arch Bishop for your home country. In turn, he will then forward this on to the Arch Bishop in Spain and eventually will arrive with the Church you decided upon in Spain. This process takes a long time and the paperwork can arrive as short as 4 weeks before your wedding date, that is before the ceremony can be officially confirmed by the Church. You cannot begin the paperwork for a Spanish church wedding until 6 months before the wedding, this is because your affidavit (freedom to marry certificate) is only valid for 6 months, therefore the application cannot be sooner than that period, or it will have expired!
Some of the paperwork will be processed by your local Parish and once the Church is Spain has received it, they will contact to confirm this. So your first step into the paper trail lies with your home Parish. The local Diocese will then organise the paperwork through the Heads of the Catholic Churches in the couple’s country of residence and Spain.
Next, you will need a "Letter of Freedom to Marry" (sometimes called an affidavit), this is needed along with the paperwork the Church provides you with, after the marriage, which you need to take to the local Registry in Spain, in order to register the wedding. Religious marriages are recognised as legal under Spanish law, but to obtain an official marriage certificate, the marriage must then be registered with the local civil authorities. This must be done within 1 week of the wedding, bearing in mind the official offices do not open at weekends.
Full Copy of your birth certificates: You will need full copies of your Birth Certificates, sometimes you may also be asked for translated versions of these, it can depend on the Priest, it is generally it's easy to get that done
Passports: Originals will need to be seen, but you will also need copies of your Passports. It's always a good idea to make several copies of all official paperwork, it's often required and can also sometimes serve as a backup.
If your wedding is going to be in a Church in the Malaga province of Spain, Marbella Bride can assist with all the paperwork and take the hassle out of booking a Church wedding in Spain. We offer competitive rates and have professional translators available to assist with the process.
In Many cases, when it comes to the paperwork needed from your home country, many Parishes will already know well what is needed and will advise you exactly how to proceed, while your Spanish wedding planner deals with things here in Spain. It's all a reasonably straight forward process, but if you are not fluent in Spanish and prepared for the possibility of several trips to Spain, it's often best left to a local professional to help you.
Depending on the Catholic Church you choose, they may, or may not be able to offer you the wedding service in English, some churches will draught in an English speaking Priest for foreign weddings if they do not have one already. There is a small handful of English speaking Catholic Priests resident here on the Costa del Sol, serving the needs of the ex-pat community and they often provide the wedding service for English speaking couples. Choosing a Church in a more touristic area, such as central Marbella, Mijas, La Cala, Benalmadena etc, will up the chances of being able to have a wedding ceremony in English.
It's no wonder so many couples from a Catholic background, are wanting to get married in Spain's beautiful Churches! Then offer the option of an amazing outdoor reception in one of the best climates in Europe!
Planning a Catholic Church wedding requires a lot more work, but our team are here to help. After all, there are now two venues to consider, you may also need to consider transportation for your guests, between the Church and the Reception!
Pictured above: Irene and Alban get married in the Fuengirola Church, organised by Marbella Bride. Photo by Andreas Holm
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