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Weddings in Spain. #2 of the series

How are things done in Spain

Once the two love birds have finally decided to involve their families in their private lovers' matters for the broom jumping ceremony, what happens?

A Spanish bride dancing on her marriage day in the US. Credit photo: CC

Natalia, our co-president and host tells us the story .

Weddings in Spain are full of traditions and superstitions. Over the years, some are still alive, others are renewed and others fade with time. Anyway, weddings are one of the most important types of celebration. It is the day to celebrate love.

Traditional Spanish “bodas” or weddings were usually celebrated according to the Catholic tradition. Today, more and more people are opting for a civil ceremony and a “convite”, party or reception, with family and friends.

In the Catholic tradition, a couple of months before the wedding, an engagement party will take place at the bride-to-be parents’ house. The purpose is to meet each other’s family and, back in the old times, on that day the groom would ask the bride’s father for his permission to marry the bride. The future couple give presents to each other: The groom gives a ring to the bride, while she can present him a wrist watch.

Then the wedding day arrives: if the couple marries following the Catholic tradition, they will meet at the church, where all the invitees will be waiting for them, and they attend the ceremony together. It can be a mass or a blessing.

If the couple opt for a civil wedding, they’ll meet at the Town Hall and the ceremony will be led by the Mayor or a Notary.

In both cases, witnesses have an essential role in the marriage ceremony. Their presence is necessary because their function is to testify that the bride and the groom mutually agree to getting married and that no one is forced into it. During the ceremony, they will give each other a wedding ring to be worn in the ring finger. They symbolise the union between the bride and groom. Do you know why the ring goes on the ring finger? Because it is the only finger that has a direct vein to the heart.

Another traditional custom in Catholic Spanish weddings is for the bride and groom to share 13 coins (known as “arras”) which represent their commitment to share the goods they have and will have in their future together.

One of the most deeply rooted traditions is that the bride's dress should be white. This used to represent her virginity. The groom will dress in a suit. The invitees are also requested to wear formal attire.

After the ceremony, all the invitees, friends and family, will gather to have lunch or dinner. Depending on the decision of the couple (it used to be the family who decided) they will either invite a big number of relatives and friends, sometimes not less than 200, or they may prefer to celebrate with a small number of people. Back in the days, it was customary for the bride's father to bear the expenses in payment of the dowry. Nowadays, expenses are split between the two families or paid by the couple themselves, if they are financially independent.

During the “banquete de bodas” or “convite” (wedding feast/reception), the couple goes around the tables where the invitees are having dinner to say hello to everyone and they offer their guests a small present to remember the day.

Traditionally, the wedding ceremony begins in the afternoon and lasts all night. No matter what time they start, Spanish weddings always end very, very late. After dinner, everyone will mingle and dance. We Spaniards love dancing and celebrating life and love.

After all the nervousness and excitement leading up to the fiesta, the couple will go for a short holiday called luna de miel or honeymoon. It’s time to relax and take some “couple time”.

Listen from min.15

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