During the Christmas and New Year holiday many couples will become engaged and start thinking about perhaps hosting a destination wedding.
Over the past 10 years Spain has seen a huge increase in destination weddings for a number of reasons.
Long gone are the cheesy images of Spain, straw donkeys (although we quite like these!), kiss me quick hats, plastic everything from red Coca Cola chairs squatting under blue San Miguel branded tables to the rather kitsch flamenco dolls! Quite like these too but perhaps I am a bit weird! They remind me of being little and my holidays in Spain as a child!
Spain is recognized as being one of the most cultural countries in the world boasting the biggest and best Gin and Tonics, tapas, amazing cities, a Mediterranean climate and wonderful beach life.
It is no wonder I live here! Along with all the stylish blogs out there promoting our wedding industry, Spain has been stamped on the wedding map and become one of the most popular destinations with easy access from many countries across the world, the States, Canada, Dubai, Asia, Australia and northern Europe.
Google weddings in Spain and a whole host of venues, businesses and ideas will come up but how and where do you start by choosing the right wedding venue and someone to help you choose a venue particularly if you cannot visit beforehand.
As with any wedding first look at your wedding budget. The areas in Spain vary hugely according to what is charged for weddings. Barcelona is one of the most expensive cities, it is in fact almost double as to what you would expect pay for example a wedding in Seville and Malaga.
Each area in Spain is very different so take the time out to look at what is around and do your research. If you don´t have time enlist the help of a wedding planner who will take the stress and strain of venue searching off your hands. They will offer invaluable advice and keep you on track to find a venue that works within your wedding budget.
Over the next month I will share some valuable advice as to what to look for when hosting your wedding here in Spain, I will cover beach venues, hotels, private villas, luxury weddings and inland weddings along with the pros and cons of each style of Spanish wedding.
To start with here is one of my experiences last year of an inland rustic Cortijo wedding which many of our clients are drawn to as it emanates everything about Andalucia but do your homework first.
If you choose a lovely rustic villa in the middle of nowhere then let me tell you a little story 🙂
Last year we had clients contact us who had booked a charming Cortijo inland near Granada. It was a rustic Cortijo set in stunning countryside and well versed in holiday lets. But hosting a wedding there was a challenge for many reasons that I will explain. We were drafted in to help our client firstly with the decor and styling and they had also hit the wedding wall. They were based in the States and had not managed to visit before booking their church and venue, so here were a few of my challenges.
Firstly the location and access road to this villa made it virtually impossible to get any van up the track to it, which was a good 20 minute drive. The local taxi company refused to service this villa and the only transport I could find within this area were 2 English guys who serviced the holiday lets here.
A holiday let is not transporting over 40 people from the villa to the local church and back again. The result of this was most of the guests drove themselves to the church and back to the villa. The two taxis did a few runs out to the hotels that some of the guests were staying in after the party ended and the rest decided not to drink and drove themselves.
Secondly, the clients had booked a fabulous caterer but they were there just to do the catering. They did not provide any staff, furniture, linens, crockery, cutlery, glassware so everything had to be hired in. This might sound simple but we are talking salt and pepper pots, serving dishes and spoons, ashtrays, coffee cups and saucers, jugs, bar equipment, trays, as you can imagine this soon ended up quite an additional cost and me having a very sleepless night wondering how the van was going to get up to the villa and sending detailed instructions in the morning via whatsapp alerting them to potentially impossible bends in the track with arrows in bright pink!
I do have a very funny story about this actually where all the catering equipment was delivered to my house the day before instead of the venue. It was a case of lots of deliveries happening in one day and despite the company having the wedding venues details somehow they mixed it up with my home address and promptly arrived and started to unload parasols, large wooden tables, chairs, boxes of glassware, etc into my lounge and patio area!
Luckily as I had planned to have everything at the villa the day before we still had time on our hands and having repacked the lorry it was promptly delivered to the venue early the next morning. Not ideal as we were then under pressure but not a complete disaster!
Then we had the drinks, the clients wanted to buy their own, the bar, glasses, etc had to be provided and manned, so staff were required to help set up, help the caterers, serve drinks and food and clear down. Fridges had to be hired in to keep the drinks and ice cold as there was only one fridge at the property in the kitchen.
My clients had booked the local church, there is a set fee in Spain and you would expect to pay between 270 to 350 euros for a church service, some churches charge a little more if they are providing more services such as an English speaking priest, but this priest, bless him, wanted 1800 euros. We had to do a lot of negotiating and reported it to the diocese in Cordoba, sadly this was a case of someone seeing the tourists arrive and rubbing their hands. I think from memory we got it down to half and perhaps he did not get his winter cruise.
Lighting, this is a different thing when you are hosting a wedding, you cannot expect guests to sit in a dark courtyard with a few candles so we provided fairy lights, lanterns and candles to light up the space where the guests were going to be eating.
Toilets, this property was quite a large property but the toilets were all over the place and the only accessible toilet was a tiny one off the kitchen, we put in toiletries and made sure the clients had ordered lots of extra toilet rolls but for me personally it was not adequate enough to service a wedding.
Finally, again due to the location of this Cortijo, all the suppliers had to travel to it so higher travel expenses had to be met for the photographer, hair and make up, catering, us and the delivery of all the items I have detailed above and I had to buy cakes to take up as no cake maker serviced this area.
When looking at wedding venues do look outside the box, don´t book a remote venue only to find it is virtually unserviceable. I had another wedding later this year where one of the guests threw up as the road to the venue was a mountain winding road with many bends, the famous Ronda Road, needless to say he had already drunk too much, a common occurrence at weddings but something to bear in mind!
Despite the challenges I have listed above the wedding was a huge success and everyone had an amazing time, fabulous food, music and a wonderful day in the Andalucian mountains but probably at a higher cost than the couple had originally anticipated and a much higher temperature as it hit over 40 degrees! It goes down in my top ten hottest weddings ever and felt like I was dying but tried to look together as I had the guests and mother of the groom asking me how I worked in this heat, so just smiled and said we were used to it!
Over the next month I will share more of my tips about different wedding venues here in Spain and how to find the right one for you.
These gorgeous images are courtesy of Eloy Munoz Photography who we had the pleasure of working with finally this year and loved their work. I was amazed at how cool they looked and that their hair was not wet but did spot the wet tops! A memorable one for many reasons but loved it and will go into the book.