Spanish Wedding

Preparing for a wedding can seem daunting and overwhelming. There is just so much detail that you have to get right. Venue, menu, dressing, processions, music, gifts and seating arrangements have to be planned meticulously. You need to give the best to the bride and groom since this is the only day they will tie the knot as a couple.

Things can get a little more complicated when the bride and groom want a Spanish wedding. Choosing a wardrobe accurately is not easy. However, Spanish weddings have many similarities to English and contemporary American weddings. Couples can choose to have a morning or an evening wedding. A Spanish morning wedding starts just before noon and is followed by lunch. An evening one is a late afternoon affair that ends after dinner.

Dress and Wardrobe

Spanish daytime weddings are not as formal as their evening counterparts. All you need is an elegant yet subdued dress. Shorter cocktail dresses and very little jewelry is the norm. Brides and other Spanish women can wear a tocado. This ensemble consists of a fascinator, floral crown, small tiara or other types of headdresses.

If you opt for an evening Spanish wedding, ensure you purchase a fancy cocktail dress for the bride. Bridesmaids and other female attendees should don full-length dresses. Warm blouses are encouraged especially in the cold after-party. Men’s Spanish wedding attire is simple- dark suit. The only exception here is for the bride’s father, who can wear a tailed suit or other garlands.  

Traditions and Observances

In most English and American weddings, there are different women and men who sit or stand by the bride and groom respectively as the wedding proceeds. This is usually not the norm during Spanish weddings. Spanish brides have a godmother known as Madrina while grooms have a godfather called Padrino.

These are specially chosen people who have known the bride and groom for much of their lives. The two will give advice, help them sit, stand and do other traditions of the wedding, such as signing the wedding certificate. Family and close friends of the couple will take Bible readings and performs other functions in the church mass.

The Wedding Ceremony

Spanish weddings can take place in the church, wedding or another appointed venue such as the beach. A flower girl usually enters the venue with a trail of rose petals. At the altar stands the officiating minister who is usually a church priest, deacon or pastor. Next, the groom is walked up to the altar by his mother. Finally, the bride appears in the company of her father.

Modern Spanish weddings are moving away from the notion of a bride as being some ‘property that has to be given away’ to the groom. Instead, she is ‘accompanied’ by her friends to tie the knot with her lifelong partner. Modernism in the developed world means that both the bride and groom have equal responsibility in the marriage.

One Spanish tradition that is no longer observed is the change of names. In past decades, the bride took the name of the groom to signal the transfer of ‘property’. These days, a bride retains her father’s first last name and her mother’s first last name. The ceremony culminates in the exchange of wedding rings and vows upon which the bride and groom are officially declared married.

After Mass Proceedings

The newly-weds are usually the first to get out of the church. They can choose to dance a little as religious music plays in the background. While the traditional church choir is still the most preferred option, modern Spanish weddings incorporate recorded music from bands and solo artists.

Guests should stay outside the church to take photos with the married couple. To avoid confusion and a possible stampede, the Master of Ceremony has an order in which photos are taken. It starts with the bride’s parents followed by the groom’s parents. Next is close families of the two. Distant relatives and friends usually are the last to be photographed.

As photos are taken, it is the tradition for guests to speak a word or two to wish the newly-wed couple a happy and long life together. Next, Spanish weddings have guests lining up to throw rose petals and dry rice at the couple as they leave to the reception venue. In the absence of organic rose petals, fabric ones are used.

Reception, Food, and Drink

Most Spanish weddings have a reception held at a hotel or other rented venue. Children who are siblings and close family members of the bride and groom are welcome to the reception. There is usually a sitter/entertainer who keeps them company throughout the party. She ensures they are fed, entertained and comfortable. This helps in helping their parents truly enjoy the party.

There is a seating chart just like in the reception of an American or English wedding. The bride and groom are accompanied by their godmother and godfather to take seats while brothers, sisters and family members sit close by. Friends and other guests also have designated sitting positions.

A cocktail hour sets the reception off. Guests can choose between wine, beer, and martini which is served with hors d’oeuvres. Next, guests are handed the menu that is ordered by the bride and groom in advance. A typical Spanish wedding reception menu has two courses separated by amuse-bouche (dessert).

The most common main course at a Spanish wedding is the famous Paella. It is a fish and rice dish cooked in a low-rimmed Paella Dish. Rice is seasoned with paprika, saffron and chilli. It is then mixed in seafood such as squid, mussel, and prawns.

Whole roasted fish is another delicacy at Spanish traditional weddings. You can choose from the grouper, striped bass, and snapper fish varieties. 

Meat dishes usually feature fried or grilled fillets of tender beef and veal. Tuna fillets can be prepared for guests who don't eat meat. 

One special treat from a Spanish menu is the whole roasted lamb. The dish is placed at a center table where guests can dig in to their fill. 

Common accompaniments to these main courses are sauteed mushrooms, salad, fries, rice, pasta and tomato mixes. 

Entertainment, Music, and Dancing

Wedding planners must ensure there is enough beer and wine to flow freely. Interestingly, Spanish wedding cakes are not as multi-layered as other wedding cakes in the United States. A simple themed cake is cut with a special sword called Espada. The sword is an old Roman practice that the Spanish decided to keep.

As the guests wine and dine, they are shown videos or slideshows of the bride and groom as they grew up separately. In some Spanish cultures, the groom’s tie is cut into small pieces that are sold to the gentlemen in the wedding. The money raised is given to the couple. Unlike English and American weddings, there are no props thrown to the dance floor. The following are examples of common Spanish songs at weddings. 

  • Danza Kuduro
  • Suavemente
  • Hoy Tengo Ganas ti
  • Oye Mi Amor
  • Que Me Alicante la Vida
  • Amore del Bueno
  • Tan Enamorados
  • Por Ti Me Cesare (Ti Sposero Perche)
  • Bailar Pegados
  • Mi Gente
  • Me Enamore
  • La Puerta Negra

Most gentlemen at the party will request to have a dance with the bride. While she will oblige to these invitations, men are advised to keep it brief and simple. Besides, she has a long night and a honeymoon to attend shortly after. Well, there you have it. Go ahead with your Spanish wedding. Do not be restrained by the rules. Feel free to experiment with a few changes here and there.

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