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More and more weddingcouples prefer to do the civil wedding in their country of residence, and the ceremonial wedding abroad. Read more about this combination on the civil weddings abroad page.
Some wedding couples prefer to do the religious wedding in Spain, and Spain is one of the few countries in the world where the Catholic church has a special position.
A wedding in a Catholic church is then automatically registered as a civil wedding in Spain, and so the wedding couple only needs to register their wedding in their country of residence.
Conditions for a Catholic wedding in Spain :
The catholic church is an international institute, and therefore the conditions are the same worldwide.
For bride and groom it must be their first Catholic wedding.
If either one has been previously married, then that marriage can only have been a civil wedding, not a religious one, and the spouse must be legally divorced.
Same-sex marriages are not allowed.
The local priest and bishop in the country of residence of bride and groom must authorise the wedding.
Administrative procedures for a religious wedding in Spain ;
Birth certificate, baptismal certificate, authorisation from the local priest and other documents
cannot be older then 3 ( in some diocenes still 6, but it's changing ) months at the date of the wedding.
Therefore, we recommend to request the documents 2 times ;
a first time when you start to plan your wedding in Spain
A second time to ensure that at the day of the wedding, documents are not older than 3 months.
The procedure is initiated by contacting your priest in your home country.
We will explain the procedure, give you the forms to complete, etc.
Once the application is complete, all the documents are either send to the local bishop, who then sends those to the Spanish bishop, or you need to send the documents to us. ( the procedure depends on the local bishop )
After the church wedding, the Catholic wedding certificate is send to the civil courts.
They register the civil wedding, and deliver the civil wedding certificate.
With this document, the wedding couple can then proceed to register their wedding in their country of residence.
This exception to the conditions for civil weddings in Spain exist because Spain is one of the few countries in the world where the catholic wedding is also recognised as a civil wedding, and because, according to EU regulations, each member state is free to determine the conditions for a civil wedding.
So, when the marriage is valid according to Spanish law, then any other member state is also required to register and aknowledge the destination wedding.
In some countries, weddings abroad must be registered in a national register instead of in local ones.
Obviously, in case of a divorse, that divorce must also be registered in the country where the initial civil wedding has taken place.
Where and when is the Catholic wedding ceremony to be held ?
As a general rule, Catholic weddings can only be held in a church or chapel.
In accordance with the local priest, a date and time is set for the wedding.
The Catholic wedding in the country of residence
A Catholic wedding is internationally valid and registered. It's therefore not possible to do another religious ceremony in the country of residence.
Some priest are willing to do an additional blessing ceremony, a simple ceremony without sacrament, prior to the actual wedding ceremony which is then held in the country of residence of bride and groom.
Some priest in Spain however are very reluctant to perform a blessing ceremony, because they don't understand why the couple is not willing to do the actual wedding ceremony, given the special status of the Catholic church in Spain.
As always, the final decision is only with the local priest and the Bishop