We talk to a bride to be who is getting married in Spain next year!
What made you decide to go abroad to get married instead of in the UK?
The idea of guaranteed sunshine for my wedding was what really drew me to choose an overseas destination. I was also keen for the location to be original and to allow my guests to have a holiday while they were there.
I’m French-Lebanese and my fiancé is British, so choosing Spain allowed us to get married on ‘neutral ground’, giving us the freedom to make the wedding happen exactly the way we wanted.
Another factor was the budget – I knew with good exchange rates we could save quite a bit of money getting married in Spain, compared to the UK.
Why did you decide to settle on Spain?
The sun, the food and the way Spanish locals like to party!
Our wedding is scheduled to go on until the early hours, which was something that was really important for my fiancé and I, as our guests are flying in from all over the world. In Spain, I can invite twice as many guests as we would in the UK with roughly the same budget, and that includes a free bar all night!
The remote countryside setting we’ve chosen for the ceremony is also very romantic. It is set at the top of a ‘Cortijo’ with a stunning background of olive tree groves and the Sierra Nevada.
Many venues we visited in Spain are staging weddings for British couples as the local economy relies heavily on tourism and weddings. The short flight time and inexpensive cost of flights from the UK was also a big factor.
To what extent is getting married abroad more difficult to organise than getting married in the UK?
Firstly, I would say you have to be a little more organised as you don’t have the suppliers within local proximity. You have to plan for making two separate visits to your wedding location, the first time for selecting venues and catering and the second time (around three months before the big day) to meet suppliers and finalise the details.
Secondly, the Spanish culture means that the organisation process is a little more relaxed than you would be used to in Britain. This can be frustrating, so it is useful to have a wedding planner to liaise with local suppliers and the venue, and to ensure all details and decisions are recorded on email.
On the positive side, if you decide to employ a wedding planner, their services are much more affordable abroad. Finding an English-speaker is relatively easy and most of the venues have a good range of contacts, as they are trying to attract as many foreigners as possible.
Will the ceremony be traditionally Spanish or will you incorporate aspects from your own culture?
The wedding will incorporate aspects of our own cultures with a touch a Spanish.
As the wedding venue is surrounded by olive groves, we are trying to incorporate olives into our wedding table decorations, for example an olive branch on tables. The wedding breakfast will feature Spanish delicacies, from cocktails to desserts.
How did your family and friends react when they found out that they would be going abroad for your wedding?
Our international family were thrilled and found it was a good idea as they have to travel anyway and dreamt to visit Andalucía. For the British family, some were concerned on how much it would cost them to attend. We made sure to inform wedding guests more than a year in advance to allow them time to book flights and accommodation. Our family and friends have all been really positive, as they are keen help celebrate our big day with us. They are also excited about the opportunity to discover beautiful Andalucía.
What features about Spain are ideal for a wedding setting?
Spain offers lots of different backdrops for weddings. From a mountain wedding to a beach wedding or a wedding at the top of a hill with stunning views, Spain offers it all.
If you chose one of the islands like Ibiza you could hold your ceremony in a vineyard with great Spanish wine, or even have a castle wedding. If you want the full traditional Spanish wedding, you can do it by choosing the music, favours, food and cocktails locally, and even booking a flamenco guitarist with singers and dancers. As a bonus, Spain has very high quality wines and cava champagne.
Can you tell us a little bit about the ceremony and themes etc to set the scene for us?
The ceremony will be held in an old traditional church right in the middle of the centre of Granada. The church is next to a river going through Granada, at the bottom of the famous La Alhambra Palace, which has incredible high ceilings with gorgeous golden decorations.
The reception will be celebrated in a ‘Cortijo’ called Cortijo Del Marques, which is an Andalucian farmhouse with large patios surrounded by olive groves, wheat and sunflower fields. The theme will definitely reflect our personalities as a couple, with a natural touch to it.
Did you consider going anywhere else other than Spain to get married?
Yes – Rhodes. We hesitated for a while as we had a little dream to organise our wedding on a beautiful Greek island with beautiful historic views and settings. We wanted a Mamma Mia wedding with a sea view and the sun!
Greece was attractive in terms of value for money, too, especially as there is still a good exchange rate from GBP to EUR. It was just a little more complicated for some of the guests and their flights – we have guests coming from as far away as Sydney and Las Vegas.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get married abroad for the preparations?
To settle on a destination, first pick the top cities or area within the country that you want to go to. This will be determined by what type of wedding you want (vineyard, country house, villa with sea view, castle, beach…). When selecting the venue, you need to consider the approximate number of guests you’re planning to invite. To save on having to travel to several destinations abroad, the easiest thing to do is to research a few venues in the same area and then whittle them down to a shortlist of a few, and then visit them in one trip. We fell in love with one venue and then decided to find 5-6 others around it to visit. Once you have your shortlist of venues selected, ask them for recommendations on caterers and organise to meet them at the same time as you visit each venue. Catering and drinks are likely to be your biggest expenditure, so it is better to meet the suppliers face-to-face.
When it comes to budget, consider local cost and the exchange rate that is offered. The euro’s good rates against the pound has helped us save about 15% and get more for our budget. I have also managed to save a lot on costs when paying suppliers directly through UKForex, an international money transfer service which offered better exchange rates than my bank.