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Increasingly more wedding couples distinguish different types of weddings ;


The civil wedding ; is when bride and groom sign the marriage registry, and commit themselfs to each other by law. This is a administrative procedure with only very limited emotional involvement. Eventhough is the legal basis of the marriage, it often has only limited influence on day-to-day life and is therefore often called 'the legal wedding'. The proceedings are often only remembered in less joyfull circumstances, such as divorce or decease.


The ceremonial wedding or wedding blessing ; is when bride and groom exchange vows in the presence of their closest family, friends and guests.

This is the ( part of ) the wedding that is usually remembered for many years to come, and it's also therefore often called 'the emotional wedding'.


The religious wedding ; is when bride and express their vows towards God and their church. The choice is very personal, and it's the religious basis of the marrige.

The civil ceremony and wedding


According to European legislation, each country is allowed to establish the conditions for a civil ceremony for non residents, and therefore, the conditions are different in each country, but the procedure are usually almost the same.

De conditions and procedures for a ceremonial wedding are set by the officiant, the person who leads the ceremony, such as a certified wedding planner.

The association of wedding planners may require that ;


         - The wedding couple is legally married prior to organising the ceremonial wedding, OR

         - The wedding couple certify that at earliest convenience they will get legally married, OR

         - The wedding couple have a civil partnership, OR

         - The wedding couple renews their vows


The officiant must be convinced, and if requested the wedding couple must be able to proof, that the conditions set to perform the ceremony are fulfilled.

Translations are usually not required.


Procedure of a ceremonial wedding


The ceremony is very personal, and often also children of the couple are involved.


Prior to the ceremony, the oficiant will need information of the wedding couple. This can be done via a personal interview, or by contacting ( some of ) the guest.

This information is used by the officiant to write a personal wedding ceremony.


At the end of the ceremony, the wedding couple and their witnesses, sign the ceremonial wedding certificate.


Often, family and guests are not told that the legal marrige is organised separatly.


Read more about the wedding ceremony in Spain


The religious wedding


Read more about the 'Religious ceremony'.

  • All official documents must be translated in the language of the country where the civil wedding is organised.

  • All documents must be stamped, usually in the embassy ( apostilles )

  • Various taxes and costs are applicable

  • After the wedding, all documents must be translated back to English.

  • Again, these documents must be stamped, usually in the embassy ( apostilles )

  • Again, various taxes and costs are applicable

  • Upon return, the marriage must be registered, sometimes in a national registry instead of a local one.

All these steps take time, and money, and all translations must be done by certified legal translators, ...


In Spain the conditions for the civil wedding are listed on our civil wedding in Spain page


Where does the civil ceremony take place ?


Usually in the town hall or civil courts, but if they are willing to cooperate, the ceremony can also be held in a venue.


Combination civil wedding - ceremonial wedding


To simplify procedures, and to save money on translations, taxes, procedures etc, nowadays most wedding couples prefer this option, where the legal wedding is done in their country of residence, and the ceremonial wedding is organised in their destination of choice.


The ceremonial wedding - wedding blessing


Is the most romantic and emotional of all ceremonies, and usually that part of the wedding that the couple will remember for many years to come. The ceremony is very personal and is held in a venue of choice.

The wedding couple exchanges vows in the presence of their family and friends.

It's the social and emotional base of marriage.


Conditions for the ceremonial wedding


The conditions are not legally or otherwise determined, and therefore the ceremony can be performed for weddings ( including same sex weddings ), renewals of vows, etc

During the ceremonial wedding, bride and groom exchange vows

in the presence of the closest family, friends and guests.


At the end of the ceremony they sign the ceremonial wedding certificate.

10 frequently asked questions about weddings abroad


According to marketing research 2/3 of the wedding couples consider a destination wedding.


The information on the internet and on various forums is confusing, to say the least.


As a professional and experienced wedding planner on the Spanish Costa Blanca, I receive a lot of questions about weddings abroad.


On these pages I try to answer to these questions.

Are civil weddings abroad legal ?