An A to M of Spanish Weddings

© Michelle Chaplow

An A to M 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!

Alianza Wedding ring, which in Spain is worn on the ring finger of the right hand.

Arras In a tradition going back to the days of the Visigoths, the groom presents the bride with thirteen arras, or coins, made of gold, silver and metal. Originally, these sealed the deal – money in return for virginity. In today's more enlightened times the bride normally presents her man with his own set of arras.
Arroz Rice is still the throwing-at-the-newly-weds weapon of choice. At our Anglo-Spanish bash we were pelted and peppered with an interesting mix of rice, confetti, chick peas and fideos (ultra-skinny macaroni)!

Banquete Wedding feast, ie the reception. If it's an evening wedding, don't expect to sit down before ten o'clock or stagger to your feet until well after midnight.

Ceremonia civil The equivalent of a registry office wedding in the UK. In 2006, almost one third of couples married por lo civil, as opposed to por la iglesia.

Convite Another word for wedding feast.

Corbata The custom of cutting the groom's tie into pieces and then auctioning it off is considered to be in very poor taste. Doing the same thing with the bride's liga (garter) is even worse.

Damas de honor Bridesmaids are not a traditional part of Spanish weddings, but thanks to the influence of Hollywood they are becoming so. 

Despedida de soltero / soltera  Hen night / stag night. Like in the UK, the simple night out / booze up with friends has been largely replaced by the pre-nuptial mini-break. Some popular options are hiring a country finca, popping over to Mallorca for the weekend or chilling out at a spa resort.

Detalle Wedding guests usually receive a small gift at the end of the meal. Typical detalles in Andalucía include dessert wine miniatures, hand-painted fans and engraved fino glasses.

Discurso Speech. The Spanish don't go in for post-dinner speeches. However, with so many weddings on the coast where one partner is Spanish and the other British / German / Dutch etc, they are getting quite used to the practice. And they make great audiences – very participative, lots of cheers and olés and viva los novios!

© Michelle Chaplow


Etiqueta A no-expense spared, ultra-formal wedding is referred to as 'una boda de etiqueta' the equivalent of top hat and tails in the UK.

Frac Tail coat.

Gastos Expenses. A church wedding with 150 guests costs an average of €28,500, according to a study by the Federación de Usuarios y Consumidores Independientes (FUCI).

Huevos de Santa Clara  Superstitious brides-to-be take a basketful of eggs to any convent of Santa Clara in order to ensure fine weather on the Big Day. Rain is supposed to augur a tearful marriage - though according to a contradictory piece of wedding lore: “Novia mojada, novia afortunada” (A wet bride is a lucky bride).

Invitados Spanish weddings tend to be quite large, with around 150-200 guests.

Juzgado Non-religious weddings are held at a juzgado (court room), ayuntamiento (Town Hall), or anywhere else that the juez (judge), concejal (councillor), alcalde (mayor) or other floating funcionario can be persuaded to officiate.

Lista de boda Wedding gift list. El Corte Inglés is very popular for these.

Madrina The bridegroom's mother (See Padrino).

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Living in Andalucia