Spain is predominantly a Catholic country and its 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.
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!
You cannot apply for the Church ceremony early, you have to begin the application a maximum of 6 months before the wedding date. Although you may provisionally book the Church before then.
Paperwork required for a wedding in Spain.
Some of the paperwork will be processed by your local Parish and once the Church in Spain has received it, they will make contact to confirm this. So, once your church in Spain is provisionally booked, 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 just a few weeks of the wedding, bearing in mind the official offices do not open at weekends. We can do this for you!
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, but it is generally it's easy to get that done and, of course, Marbella Bride can help.
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.
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 straightforward process, but if you are not fluent in Spanish and prepared for the possibility of several trips to Spain. Unless you live here and speak Spanish, it's always best left to a local professional to help you arrange your Church wedding in Spain.
Do you want your Spanish catholic church ceremony in English?
Yes, it is often possible to have the ceremony conducted in English.
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 tourist area, such as central Marbella, Mijas, La Cala, Benalmadena etc, will up the chances of being able to have a wedding ceremony in English.