Spain is the second most visited country in the world. History oozes from every corner and in southern Spain you are practically guaranteed warm weather year-round. Spain gives you the opportunity to have an outdoor wedding surrounded by beautiful landscapes as well as a chance for all your guests to holiday, take some time out and have fun!!
With so much choice across the country, here is a review of the most outstanding spots for me. The location you choose will pretty much depend on the kind of destination wedding you have in mind, although if you still haven’t decided, this mini guide may help you get some ideas.
Malaga as a wedding destination
Malaga is an ideal choice if you are looking for a sun and sea wedding and vacation, although it has many beautiful rural spots to offer. Malaga has stunning beaches, modern facilities and great weather, not too hot – not too cold! The sea winds are not too strong in this area either, compared to further down the coast such as Cadiz.
As Malaga is mainly geared towards tourism, there are many hotels to choose from, although the entertainment options are slimmer than in other Spanish cities such as Seville or Granada. The main historical monuments can only found in the main city, whilst the coastal towns offer bars and beaches. There are, on the other hand, plenty of sea activities: taking a small cruise across the coast, scuba diving, jet skiing or simply having dinner at a restaurant on the beach…… Malaga is glamour and class.
Malaga offers its Botanical Gardens for weddings. You can have the blessing, banquet and reception here. The Botanical Gardens used to be the home of a rich merchant family and features a stunning pergola overlooking the entire state. A great bonus is that you can do evening/night weddings, perfect in the summer when the sun doesn’t set until 9 – 10 pm.
Benalmadena, a coastal town, offer its Bil-Bil castle. This is a newly constructed castle however its charm lies on its location – practically on the beach. You can have your ceremony, banquet and reception all within the castle grounds.
Marbella boasts some amazing beach restaurants/lounges where you can have a jet-set glamorous wedding. Many of them are large enough to have a blessing in the same grounds, such as Pangaea Prive. The amazing Finca La Concepcion can also be found in Marbella and it is one of the best wedding venues I have ever seen. The finca itself is beautiful, with a remarkable entrance. Although it is only a short drive from Puerto Banus, as soon as you arrive to the Finca you feel like you are in the middle of the countryside, where the only sounds come from birds singing.
The Byblos hotel in Mijas is truly amazing and is available for weddings. The hotel is set within the Mijas Golf Course, with its stunning lakes and peaceful surroundings. Byblos is “Andalusi” inspired, combining Spanish and Arabic decoration. This is a wonderful place to have a banquet and reception as the building itself is beautiful. The restaurant is set near the pool and you can have live music until late. Speaking from personal experience, this is an amazing hotel to have your honeymoon. The rooms are luxurious, the staff make you feel like royalty, it is quiet enough to sleep-in and stay in bed as long as you want, and some of the rooms have gigantic baths!
On the other side of the coast we find Nerja, a favorite amongst many couples. Although a little far from the airport, Nerja has some fantastic views, restaurants and still keeps that bohemian look about it. There is plenty for guests to do here, including some unique caves where you can watch ballet shows in the summer. The most stunning part of Nerja is the Europa Point, fantastic for pictures. Right next to it is a great restaurant, Casa Luque, where I have attended a couple of weddings. The restaurant features a gigantic terrace on the edge of a cliff, looking right out to sea, where you can celebrate the blessing, banquet and reception.
You can create your wedding theme around the venue: For example a vintage 40’s – 50’s theme, a style that can provide a lot of entertainment and fun. Swing was in and the “cool cat” sounds of Benny Goodman, Ray Charles, and Aretha Franklin were being heard in ballrooms and nightclubs everywhere. If you love the jumpin’ and jivin’ sounds of the 1940’s, along with glamour, then why not plan your wedding theme around this fascinating era?
A wedding in Spain does not have to mean you are limited in choice.
- Clean, accessible beaches
- Near Airport
- Excellent weather
- Many English speakers
- Not much historical heritage in the coastal areas
- A car is needed to go pretty much everywhere – alternatively, hire a mini-bus with a chauffeur.
Seville as a wedding destination
Seville used to be the capital of Spain until, for strategic reasons, it was moved further inland to Madrid. This is the city where Columbus set sail from, scene to the romantic Carmen opera, and is in my opinion the most Spanish of all the Andalucian capitals. Surrounded by monuments dating back thousands of years, gigantic parks and a stunning river, it will give your guests (and yourselves) the chance to enjoy Spain in all its splendor. Culture and folklore emanate from every corner; Seville has the highest quality flamenco shows.
The city is very near Malaga, where there is a denser population of English speakers, therefore having a blessing in English or any other language will be no problem at all.
Holding the wedding at a Spanish “Cortijo” or “hacienda”. “Cortijos” are the typical farmhouses of southern Spain. This may not sound very glamorous at first but these are in fact the most refined and noble of all. Families became rich over centuries breading horses and bulls. Photo of Cortijo.
Many of these “Cortijos” specialize in celebrating weddings. This could be a great option as you can have the blessing, the banquet and the reception all in one place. Some have even been turned into hotels and have accommodation with a suite for the bride and groom, spas, additional restaurants….
Having your destination Spanish wedding in a “Cortijo” sets the scene and theme easily. You and your guests will be in out-of-the-ordinary surroundings, making it a magical and memorable experience
Adding your touch
Having your destination wedding with a Spanish theme does not mean you have to miss out on adding your personal touch. Quite the opposite, use the theme as a canvas and make the wedding truly yours. I think a wedding should reflect the personalities of the bride and groom. Live music and entertainment can help you a great deal here.
A Gospel choir or even a classical guitarist, playing during your outdoor ceremony … Once the ceremony has finished a great way to greet all your guests is over a “cocktail”. You can have it very close to the blessing grounds and have the waiters serve appetizers and drinks. With a jazz and swing band playing in the background, you will keep your guests from getting bored until you arrive back from taking photos, and what more can you ask for: sipping on champagne, outdoors in the sun, while you listen to Sinatra’s LOVE played live!
A wedding in Spain does not have to mean flamenco dancers and Spanish songs.
- Clean, environmentally friendly city
- True Spanish feel to it
- Lots for guests to do and see
- Superior quality restaurants and products, not much more expensive than the rest of Andalucia.
- Near Airport
- Great for honeymooning
- Very hot during July & August
- Not near the sea
- Not many English speaking service providers so communication can be hard – although Malaga is just a short drive and many can be booked from there.
Granada as a wedding destination
Granada was the capital of the “Andalusi” world, the Moorish kings who conquered and lived in Andalucia for over 700 years. With the Alhambra forever present, this city is a true blend of Jewish, Catholic, Moorish and modern Spanish culture.
Choosing Granada as a wedding destination offers many possibilities: Snow, City and Beach. The city of Granada is set inland although the province runs all the way down to the coast. There is also a ski resort, Sierra Nevada, with the longest skiing season in Europe. This gives you plenty of options to organize guest activities and lots to do for your own honeymoon.
Eating out in Granada is extremely reasonable and fun. It is a tradition in many bars across the city to get a free “tapa” each time you order a drink. Granada University is one of the most prestigious in Spain and therefore the city has a vast array of live music venues for all ages.
Quite obviously, the ideal choice is to have your wedding near the Alhambra such as in the old town, the “Albaycin”. The noble people who lived in ancient Granada had homes in this part of the city, right next to the Alhambra palace. Many wonderful restaurants in the area have terraces with views to the beautiful labyrinths of narrow streets running across the “Albaycin”.
Within the forests of the Alhambra, next to the “Albaycin”, and the “Generalife” (residence of the sultans who lived in Spain) there is a wonderful Hacienda, “Carmen de los Chapiteles” ideal for weddings. Enchanting gardens and fountains and views of a city you will not forget easily.
Another fantastic option is the “Parador de la Alhambra” located within the Alhambra palace itself.
- Beautiful monuments, buildings and gardens
- Easy to move around without a car – Taxis are very reasonable
- Mix of landscapes & activities: beach, snow and city
- Mixture of interesting cultures
- Very hot in July & August and very cold during December, January & February
- Not many English speaking service providers – so it is hard to communicate. However Malaga is just a short drive and many can be booked from there.