Spanish Wedding Traditions

Over the years, we’ve had a few Spanish/English or Spanish/Irish Weddings, and I’ve also been a guest at a couple of Spanish Weddings here too. An Irish bride who’s engaged to a Spanish groom recently asked me about what traditions they could encorporate in to their Wedding day here on the Costa del Sol. Here are just a few Spanish Wedding traditions and customs:

Starting with the engagement, and the ever important engagement ring – In Spain, women wear their engagement ring on the ring finger of their left hand, while the wedding ring is worn on the ring finger of the right hand.

The Wedding day timings is usually the next point of contrast in culture that we see when beginning to plan the wedding of a foreign couple here in Spain is thae time for the ceremony and after party. In Spain most weddings begin in the afternoon and lastall night and into the next morning. While some couples initially worry that they are “loosing the day”, they soon find out they’ll “gain the night!” We usually recommend ceremonies no earlier than 5pm, due not only to the heat, but also to run inline with Spanish daylight hours, because noone really wants a disco that starts in the daylight, right?

The Wedding ceremony in Spain would nearly always be much shorter than a traditional Catholic Wedding ceremony in UK or Ireland. As Spanish Weddings are usually quite large, it’s not uncommon for non-family to be standing for the ceremony.

During and after the ceremony there are a few ideas that can be encorporated in to a foreign Wedding to give it a traditional Spanish feel. First, the Arras, which are used in religious weddings. These are 13 coins that are passed between the bride and groom symbolizing the sharing of all their belongings in the marriage. A Spanish bride also would not change her surname after marriage, children of the bride and groom will then have double barrelled surnames encompassing both of their parents.

Once the ceremony is over, traditionally in Spain rice is thrown as a symbol of prosperity and fertility.  A word of warning though, it hurts! It can also get very well embedded into the dress, bride’s hair, groom’s hair and pretty much anywhere.

Traditionally after the meal the couple would go round the tables greeting their guests and handing out a gift to each person.

During the Wedding banquet, it is customary for guests to visit the mesa presidencial or “top table” and hand over their cash gifts. The cash gift is usually the approximated amount that has been spent on the guest’s food and beverage for the day. In return of the gift, favours will then be handed out. Traditionally this would be pins for the single women and cigars for the men.

Aside from the bouquet toss, single ladies at the party are expected to wear special pins upside down. If the pin is lost, that woman will be next in line to marry.

Another common Spanish wedding tradition is the tie cutting. Close friends or relatives of the groom would take his tie, cut it up, and sell the pieces to the guests to raise some extra money for the couple. A similar ceremony would be done for the bride’s garter. As with most of  traditions though, this one is also changing and becoming less common at Spanish weddings.

For more information about getting married in Spain, please visit our website:

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