I joined the Church of England in 2013, whilst working at Heythrop and served my curacy at the parish of St Mary and St Eanswythe with St Saviour in Folkestone, where I was married in 2015. Following the closure of Heythrop in 2018, I took up a new position teaching theology and organizing social and pastoral and placements for students at the College of the Resurrection in Mirfield, which trains women and men for ordained ministry.
What God has joined together, let not man separate –
If you are not a Spanish national, unless you are a Roman Catholic, it is difficult to have the legal (civil) part of your marriage done in Spain. If you are British it is very much easier (and, I understand, cheaper) to get married legally at a registry office either in the UK or Gibraltar and then come to Spain for the full wedding blessing (which can then happen in most churches in Spain).
If you marry in the UK or Gibraltar then you will have a marriage certificate in English, which might be more useful than one in Spanish, if you are not intending to stay in Spain. The UK government will recognise a Gibraltar (or Spanish) marriage see here.
Wedding blessing pack
A marriage blessing is, essentially, a full marriage service but without the legal bits. It can be a small or large event.
So we would welcome you to have a marriage blessing, with or without all the trimmings, in one of our churches at San Pedro or Sotogrande. Equally, if you would like the blessing to be on the beach, in a hotel or in some other building of choice, we are happy to oblige. The Chaplain is a Church of England priest and has conducted many marriages in the UK and wedding blessings in Spain, so will be able to help you with all the planning and organisation.
Incorporating a marriage blessing into your holiday, and that of your family’s holiday may be just the occasion to seek God’s love and blessing for something you are truly committed to – till death we do part!
We use the order of service authorised by the Church of England, of which we are a part, within the Diocese in Europe. This is a Christian ceremony which seeks God’s blessing on the newly married couple.
The service is in English (but can be translated simultaneously into Spanish) and is basically the same as a service in any Church of England in the UK – hymns (if required) music, bridesmaids, vows, the blessing of rings, etc.
What about venues?
The two churches, at Sotogrande and at San Pedro, both provide a beautiful venue for weddings. With gardens, mature trees and interesting stonework they provide a truly photogenic location for a Christian marriage blessing. There is ample parking, toilets and baby-changing facilities and, if required, a separate room with some kitchen facilities. Other church venues are available, for example, a small wedding blessing at La Virginia chapel in Marbella.
All the churches provide a cool atmosphere in the summer and a warm atmosphere during the winter.
Can we do it all in one go in Spain?
Most Anglican Chaplaincies in Spain do not conduct full weddings with the legal marriage element, for non-residents.
If you wish to undertake the legal (civil) part of your marriage in Spain normally one of you has to be a resident of Spain for a minimum period, usually at least two years. According to most sources, you need a “volante de empadronamiento” (registration certificate) issued by the Town Hall, to demonstrate you are a resident. However, two other websites also state that the two-year rule may be relaxed depending on the local Spanish community’s interpretation of the law. See here (church weddings only) and section 5 here and here (both for US citizens).
In the case of neither of you being a resident, with an address, then that is problematic.
You will need to work with the local Town Hall, in Spanish, to arrange the paperwork, or work with a wedding organiser to do the paperwork for you. You need to bear in mind there have been considerable changes as a result of Brexit which may complicate matters further. These were the web pages that were particularly helpful here, here and here (all in English). Also, Spanish lawyers’ perspectives are given here, and here (both in Spanish but can be translated by Google to English). For many town halls (ayuntamiento) the process of doing a non-Catholic marriage by an Anglican priest will be new. We apologise if these websites are now out of date.
Without endorsing any particular company/party mentioned here: The previous chaplain worked on some occasions with a local wedding organiser (here) who does this, and also a lawyer (here) who had worked through this process with a couple prior to Brexit.
What if I am divorced?
The Chaplaincy is willing to bless the marriage of divorced persons subject to discussion with the Chaplain. If the marriage were originally in a Roman Catholic Church it would not be possible to bless the marriage in a Roman Catholic Church in Spain. However, there are other churches and other venues when such a marriage could be blessed.
What if we are a same sex couple?
If you are a same sex couple, do get in touch so that we can explore possibilities for you within the guidelines of the Church of England, which is currently engaged in discerning how we can better fulfill the church’s responsibility of being a place of inclusion for all.
Renewal of vows, thanksgiving for marriage
It is tremendous that some marriages last many years, and sometimes couples feel that they would like to celebrate that by renewing their promises to each other. Perhaps it is a special anniversary or the end of a more difficult period in life, perhaps the children have all moved on or simply there is a real desire to say thank you to each other for the life you have led together and the life you will continue to lead.
It could involve the giving and receiving of a gift, maybe a new ring, some of your favourite words and music you have loved.
The church has always valued marriage very much so when there is something to celebrate how about bringing your friends and celebrating it with a big thanks to God for his blessings and grace.
The cost of Marriage Blessings
For weddings, memorials and funerals we do charge some donation fees.
9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’