Thanks to its temperate climate, dramatic sun-swept landscapes and romantic traditions, Andalucia is one of Europe’s top spots for a destination wedding abroad. But with so many things to consider it can be complicated to organize such an important event well in a foreign country or little known location.
Below are some of the most important initial considerations and tips on how to pull together the perfect elements for that most special of days.
1. Consider hiring a wedding planner
With so much on the line and all of your guests to consider, you’re going to need some help. Booking the assistance of a local wedding planner can help bring all of the other contacts and considerations into line for you. Their local expertise will be invaluable and they will have already established numerous contacts for you to choose from when it comes time to hire the other individuals and businesses you’ll need to pull off a seamless event. Decisions on all of the remaining items on this list will be made much easier with the help of a wedding planner, plus the planner will be there on the day to make sure everything goes smoothly and you can enjoy your special day.
Based on the Costa del Sol but servicing most of Andalucia, Lucy Bennett and Jesus Portillo of the Boutique Wedding Co. are thoroughly knowledgeable on all aspects of organising an Andalucian wedding – the “who, what, when, where and how” all in one package! Lucy is also a crafty designer in her own right and can assist with thematic settings and decorations.
2. The type of ceremony
Getting legally married in Spain can be difficult if you are not actually a resident; therefore, most couples opt for a non-legal blessing ceremony after the legalities have been arranged in their home country. A blessing ceremony also allows more flexibility in when and where you might hold the event. It is still possible to have a religious ceremony if you want, and for members of the Catholic Church it may be possible to have a legal ceremony in a Spanish church, but expect months and months of rigorous paperwork and a long waiting list for the venue itself. Others opt for a non-religious or humanist ceremony. For British couples, a legally binding wedding ceremony in Gibraltar is not difficult to arrange.
The type of ceremony you decide on will determine the type of celebrant you prefer. For those deciding on a humanist ceremony, British born Natasha Johnson is a highly recommended celebrant for her professionalism, empathy and light touch in guiding couples through what can be a nerve racking experience.
3. Location and venue
Here again the type of ceremony desired will impact the choice of venue. If you are to have a religious ceremony in a church then you will naturally need to decide on a particular church and make your contacts there. Even then you will still need to consider where you and your guests will celebrate after the ceremony itself and where all of you will stay after the party winds down.
Book an exclusive private property. There are many advantages, including the privacy you will enjoy on a private estate as compared with a hotel or public hall. Plus the question of where to stay after the party is answered and you won’t have to travel to your accommodation at the end of it all. Even a large private estate is bound to end up more economical than a hotel when you consider rental of the space for the ceremony and celebration, plus accommodation for every individual and family in attendance. With a private rental property you also have more choice in the style you would like and more flexibility in arranging the logistics such as layout and flow, decorations and themes. If booking Lucy as your wedding planner she can suggest just the right venue to suit your wishes.
What’s a wedding without beautiful floral displays and adornments for the bride? This can be an expensive element of the day, so it’s important that you work with someone who understands the mood and themes you are trying to convey, and who can deliver to your wishes without over doing it.
John William, of JW Design in Marbella, is that florist who understands and delivers. With combinations of colours, textures and materials he can transform an ordinary space into an extraordinary venue.
Sure, these days everyone with a high-pixel smart phone thinks they’re a photographer, but for such an important and special event you want to know that at the end of it all you will have images that expertly capture the moments you’ll cherish forever. From portraits and poses to capturing the magic of the moment, you need a photographer with an unerring eye and masterful craft.
Eloy Muñoz and Alexsandra Foit of Eloy Muñoz Photography. In recent years Eloy and Alexsandra have won various awards for excellence in photography, particularly wedding photography. The proof is in the product, have a browse at their website and you’ll see.
6. Chef and catering
For impressing guests this is one area where it is possible to really stand out. Anyone that’s been to one too many budget buffet style wedding dinners will know what I mean. This is really not the area to skimp on. Andalucia boasts a wealth of unique dishes and flavours so use this to your advantage and wow your guests with the tastes of the place from a talented local chef.
Due to the logistics involved, this is one member of the team that may be less inclined to travel very far so you may need to look locally. Many chefs with their own restaurants will offer a service for private events, while you might be lucky enough to find a private chef to cater the event for you. That above mentioned wedding planner can help here, but for events from Malaga eastward Juan Quintanilla of Sollun Restaurante in Nerja will not disappoint.
Alan Hazel is Owner and Director of Cortijo El Carligto.