Requirements for a legal marriage in Spain

Is it hard to have a legal wedding in Spain? This is one of the questions that many couples who plan to get married in Spain ask us. In this blog post, we will give you the highlights and the most important details that you need to know about having a legal wedding in Spain.

Pros and cons of a legal wedding in Spain

Before diving into the nitty-gritty of the legal requirements for weddings in Spain, here are some pros and cons that you can consider when making a decision to have a legal or symbolic wedding.


Having a legal wedding in Spain is hitting two birds with one stone. You get to travel to a historic and culture-rich country and you also get legally wedded to the love of your life. When you go back to your home country, your legal wedding in Spain will be recognized, without the need of any complicated processes.

A civil wedding and a Catholic wedding in Spain are both considered as legal marriages. You just need to follow the requirements for these weddings and you’ll be considered legally married almost everywhere in the world.

So if you’re dreaming of tying the knot in a historic church in Spain, in a solemn religious ceremony, your church wedding will be considered legally-binding. On the other hand, by following the government requirements for a civil wedding in Spain, you can pick a legally-approved location for the ceremony and tie the knot there.


For starters, non-citizens who are not residents of Spain are not allowed to have a legally-binding civil wedding here. One of you must be a citizen or a resident of Spain for at least two consecutive years before you are allowed to legally marry here. That’s one of the strict requirements that make it hard to have a legally-binding wedding.

Another limitation that you will encounter in a civil wedding is the venue requirement. You can’t just book just any of the wedding venues in Spain that you saw online. It has to be a licensed location for civil weddings.

If you want to do away with these strict requirements, you can opt for a Catholic wedding which is considered legal in Spain.

Spain legal wedding paperwork

As we mentioned before, there are only two types of weddings that are considered legal in Spain. First is a civil wedding and second is a Catholic wedding.

For civil weddings, the couple needs to submit certain documents such as their birth certificate, certificate of no impediment to marry, passport, and other legal papers. All documents must be translated to Spanish and accompanied by an apostille. They must also be issued six months prior to submission.

For Catholic weddings, you must submit the documents required by the Catholic Church such as the baptismal, communion, and confirmation certificates, among others.

For a complete list of all the documents required for either a civil or a Catholic wedding, you can ask for assistance from our wedding planner in Spain. By adding assistance on legal paperwork to your elopement package, our planner can help you with these requirements.

Other requirements for legal marriages in Spain

Aside from the documentation requirements, here are some other important information that you need to know about legal weddings in Spain:

  • Both the bride and the groom need to be at least 18 years old.
  • They must show voluntary and intelligent consent to marry.
  • For civil ceremonies, one of the spouses must be a citizen or must have resided in Spain for at least two consecutive years.

If you opt for a Catholic wedding, you can skip the two-year residency requirement and still have your church wedding considered legal. But this is not automatic. Within one week after your Catholic wedding, you have to deliver your marriage documents to the local Spanish Civil Registry for documentation. Once you’ve done that, you can register your wedding in Spain when you get back to your home country.

Marriage ceremony options for weddings in Spain

Aside from the two wedding ceremonies that we mentioned previously, there are other options for your marriage celebration. These two ceremonies are not legally-binding but they will give you the freedom to select the venue that you want, customize your wedding ceremony according to your style, and even select the celebrant for your big day.


A Catholic wedding is the only religious Christian ceremony that is considered legal in Spain. A Protestant wedding is not considered legal but it’s an option if you want to have a solemn ceremony where your union can be blessed. With this type of wedding, you can pick your favorite venue, look for a minister or a pastor, and tie the knot in the Spanish location of your choice.


We always advise our couples to just get legally married in their home country, then travel to Spain for a symbolic ceremony. A symbolic wedding will give you all the freedom to choose any wedding venue that you want. Whether it’s a historic fortress ruin hidden in the Spanish countryside or a modern hotel along the scenic Costa Brava, you can recite your vows in the most beautiful venue in Spain!

Final advice

All our couples who booked us for a wedding in Spain picked this destination because of its rich culture, scenic beaches, and heritage sites scattered all over the country. Most of them don’t bother complying with the requirements of a legal wedding because they can have a simple civil ceremony at home to legalize their union. After all, what they're really just perform a symbolic wedding here. After all

Whether you want a legal, Catholic, or a symbolic wedding in Spain, you can always send us an enquiry on how to start the planning process.

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