Society & Culture - An N to Z of Spanish Weddings

© Michelle Chaplow

La Novia - the bride

An N to Z of Spanish Weddings

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Journalist and author Theresa O'Shea tied the knot with her long-standing Spanish partner on Spain's Costa del Sol and has produced a linguistic and cultural survival guide to a Spanish weddings for those who might follow her example and walk the aisle in Spain!

Niños de arras / Niños de anillos Page boys and page girls at posh weddings who are - amazingly -  entrusted with conveying the arras and rings on velvety cushions.

Novios  So much shorter than saying 'bride  and groom'.

Orquesta Not the symphonic kind, but the dance band that strikes up after the wedding feast.

Padrino Best man, sort of. From the verb apadrinar, meaning 'to sponsor'. The padrino is usually the bride's father and the madrina, the bridegroom's mother. The groom and the madrina are always the first to arrive at the church. It is the padrino who 'gives away' the bride.

Puros  It's always been the thing to dish out cigars to the male guests after dinner. With fewer and fewer people smoking these days, however, this custom is on the wane. We went for chocolate puros instead.

Quiero (sí)  I do. I was so looking forward to my “Si quiero” moment, but the wording of the civil ceremony means you actually say “Sí consiento” (I give my consent).

© Michelle Chaplow

Ramo de flores - bunch of flowers

Ramo de flores  Spanish brides who have grown up on Hollywood movies also throw their bouquets over their shoulder for their unmarried girl friends to fight over.

Sevillanas You'll have much more fun if you can twirl and strut and stomp along with the locals when the Sevillanas start up. And start up they will.

Sobres  In Andalucía, money is often the preferred gift. After the meal, the bride and groom circulate from table to table and collect their sobres, or envelopes. Things are changing, though, and you may well receive the number of a bank account along with your invitation. The amount you give should at least cover the cost of your cubierto, or place setting.

Tarta nupical Wedding cake: typically a sponge cake, smothered and filled with serious amounts of creamy gunk.

Testigos Two witnesses are required to sign either the 'Acta' (marriage certificate) at a civil wedding or the Libro de matrimonios (marriage book) at a church wedding.

Traje de novia Wedding dress. As elsewhere in the West, white and off-white (blanco roto) are the most traditional colours. (I wore deep red at mine; but then my very untraditional Spanish novio sported a burgundy Punjabi wedding suit!)

Un movimiento sexy Be prepared to do lots of sexy – and other choreographed  - movements once the band / DJ starts playing unavoidable wedding classics, such as Bomba, Aserejé, Macarena, and my personal un-favourite, Paco el Chocolatero.

Velo nupcial Wedding veil. Not to be confused with vello, meaning, er, body hair.

Votos Nothing to do with votes, these are the wedding vows.

Whisky No Spanish wedding (or any other kind of party / celebration) would be complete without plenty of whisky – or güisqui, as the Real Academia would have it.

Ximénez Dark sticky sweet Pedro Ximénez sherry is a popular dessert wine at weddings

Y comieron perdices What eating partridges has to do with living happily after is anybody's guess, but that's how all love stories end in Spanish: Vivieron felices y comieron perdices.

Zara Think twice before picking up your won't-break-the-bank-account wedding outfit at Spain's favourite fashion chain. You may find yourself going horribly “snap”.

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