Weddings in Tenerife. They should be happy events and they will be, if all the preliminaries are carried out successfully. So, this page will be in two sections: the paperwork and preparation, then the ceremony itself and the reception. The first section will be, by far, the biggest.
Paperwork and Preparation
When you consider a date for the wedding, you should set it far enough in the future to allow you to get all the preliminaries done. Whether you're an immigrant to Tenerife or are simply on holiday, much of the beaurocracy is the same.
Right. The first thing you must do is contact an authoritative body in the area where you want to marry. This can be a registry office, a church, or a civil court. The best option is probably your local Town Hall and I've found a list of Tenerife's Town Halls in Spanish Yellow Pages. You can peruse that list here.
If you don't want to have to go through all this list (103 entries), here are the telephone numbers of a few situated in the main tourist areas:
Be aware that making an appointment with an authority and the subsequent processing of paperwork will take ages, which is why you need to do this well ahead of the planned wedding date.
Whichever authority you contact, they will tell you what documentation is required to arrange your wedding. Different authorities in different areas may have slightly differing rules regarding documents, so, for this reason, your country's Consulate cannot supply this information. If you thought it was a palaver sorting things out in your home country, well, just read on.
Some Idea of the Documents That Might Be Required
Spanish authorities usually require all certificates and documentation to have been issued within the last three months, so if you've already got older versions of any of the following, you'll have to arrange for them to be reissued.
Certificado de Estado Civil
This "certificate of marital status" proves that you are single and free to marry. It involves swearing an oath to that effect and is obtained from your Consulate.
You need to take with you, unsigned, a legal declaration, drawn up by a lawyer on his firm's headed notepaper, of your marital status, which will then be affirmed on oath and signed by you at the Consulate's office.
You'll also need the passports or NIE numbers of you and your intended spouse, your full birth certificate (including parents' names) and yourCertificado de Empadronamiento (the certificate you received when you first registered at your local Town Hall when you began to live in their area).
If you are divorced or widowed, you'll need the Decree Absolute or death certificate to prove this.
Certificado de No Impedimento (CNI)
This is issued at the same time as the previous one with no additional paperwork needed. It simply shows that there is no legal impediment to your getting married. It is displayed at the Consulate for 21 days and, if no-one comes forward to declare an impediment, the actual certificate is then issued.
Consular Registration Certificate
This is to prove that you are registered with your Consulate and the British one offers an on-line service for this.
You need your passport, your police Registration Certificate and yourCertificado de Empadronamiento.
Consular Certificate of Nationality
You may be asked by the Spanish authorities for this because you have a foreign birth certificate. Your Consulate will be happy to provide this.
Legalisation and Translation
It doesn't end there. All official documents, including birth, divorce and death certificates, plus any consular certificates, must be legalised with something called the "Hague Apostille". No, I'd never heard of it either, so I looked it up. It's a treaty drafted by the International Court at the Hague enabling legal certificates from one member country to be made valid in another.
It's not as daunting as it sounds. If the documents in question are British ones, you need to use the UK's Legalisation Office. You can access their website here.
You have to post your documents to their office, or you can get the Consulate to send them for you, using a diplomatic bag. Return of the legalised documents may take up to six weeks.
All non-Spanish documents have to be officially translated. For this, you'll need to use a "sworn translator", or traductor jurado who is registered with the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. You can access a list of these here. Scroll down to page 478(!).
Civil Versus Religious
If you have a religious wedding, in a church, chapel, or other venue where there is a presiding official qualified to perform these types of ceremonies, the marriage will be recognised in Spanish law. To subsequently obtain a legal marriage certificate, however, it must be then registered with the local civil authority.
You must first find out if the person officiating at your wedding is licenced to perform marriages and establish the civil registration. He or she will then carry out the civil registration for you or give you the necessary documents for you to do it yourself.
The Spanish Ministry of Justice has a useful webpage on this subject and you can access it here.
Enjoying it so far? Well, at last we get onto the more pleasant stuff.
The Wedding Ceremony
It's worth mentioning at the outset that a true wedding ceremony is only possible for residents of Tenerife. For non-residents who want to fly over to get married, the way round it is this. Have the official, civil ceremony in your home country, then go to Tenerife, where you can have a "blessing" ceremony, in a church, say, which will feature all the trappings of an actual wedding, so much so that any guests who didn't know you were already married wouldn't suspect anything.
What with Tenerife being the sort of place it is, the possibilties for places to hold the ceremony are endless. As well as the traditional church ceremony (and, believe me, there are numerous unbelievably picturesque churches on the island), you can chose to be under a canopy on the beach, out on a luxury yacht, up in the mountains for a "rustic" location or even underground, in a cave!
For Catholic churches, a baptism certificate will be required and permission from the local Bishop may be necessary.
For non-residents, you must go through a civil ceremony in your own country, then come to Tenerife for the blessing ceremony.
Venues For Weddings (or Blessings)
For a church wedding, it would be better to deal with those with English (or English speaking) officials. For a selection of these, you can check out my page on churches providing English speaking services.
If you're simply having a "blessing", then any number of different venues are possible. Certain major Tenerife landmark venues can be hired for blessings and the subsequent reception. For instance, the iconicAuditorio de Tenerife is available for something like 4,000 euros for a full day.
Here are some other ideas:
If your blessing ceremony is to be outdoors, be sure to consider the time of day. The sun can be quite hot in early afternoon. Don't forget, the later in the day, the nearer you are to sunset, which, on Tenerife, can be pretty spectacular.
There are companies that will do all the wedding planning for you, arranging the venue, food, cake and cars. Here's a short list of such businesses, operating in Tenerife:
Wedding Dresses, Cars, Photographers and Musical Entertainment
Good news and bad news. The good news is that there is a website dedicated to Spanish weddings where you can look up all the above. The bad news is that it's all in Spanish! It's called Bodas.net ("boda" being Spanish for "wedding") and it can be accessed here.
To help you, here's what you do with the four drop-down lists when performing a search.
Under Provincia, scroll down to and select Tenerife.
Under Sector de actividad select Banquetes Tenerife for wedding venues,Proveedores for wedding services, Novias for brides and Novios for bridegrooms.
"Banquetas" will, under Tipo de servicio, give you a list of farmhouses, hotels and restaurants offering wedding services, plus caterers.
"Proveedores" include wedding invitations, photographers, live music, cars (coches) and florists.
Under "Novias", you'll find bridal shops (tiendas de novia).
Finally, in the fourth drop-down list (Poblacion), you can select the area of Tenerife where the wedding will be taking place.
And don't forget, you're already in a beautiful location for your honeymoon!
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