Our Spanish wedding was planned quite quickly and we stayed on a very tight budget, under 2,500 euros for everything. I think we did quite a fabulous job and in case you are planning a far-away wedding or even if it's in your back yard, I wanted to share some of what we did with you all- and in case you are an American marrying a Spaniard, give you a heads up on the bureaucratic hurdles that you are about to come up against.
Diego and I were engaged shortly after I arrived to Spain last fall. We had the idea of eloping quietly, having the little courthouse wedding, sending the announcement with a little black and white shot of us, me with a little birdcage veil and a white trench coat him in a white shirt and skinny tie...
But, upon going to the town hall to set the date for the wedding we were given a paper with a 'short' list of papers to turn in in order for them to approve.
1. Fill out the application for marriage. Check.
2. Be empadronado (registered) in the same town-we were told we just had to go to the building next door, and fill out a paper. This really was very easy, fill out a paper with the address and my signatue and I was registered. Check.
3. A copy of my passport. Easy. Done and Done.
4. A notarized copy of my birth certificate, translated to Spanish (the translation would need to be certified by the nearest American Consulate-by appointment in A Coruna from 10-1 Mon-Fri). My mom sent the birth certifcate with the seal that it was notarized and legal, we translate, make the appointment (Diego taking a morning off work), get to the consulate, hand over the certificate, they look it over and say "Where is the seal?" Yes, much to our surprise the birth certificate needed an Apostille de La Haye, a seal you must get from the Secretary of State for $1 on documents that need to be legal not only in the US but also aboad.
So, we left with no quick wedding on the horizon after we talk to my mom who talks to secretary of state who says she has to order a new birth certificate from the court who will process that send it to her so that she can take it to the secretary of state, who will then place the seal and send it to her. A process that can take up to 2 months. Uffffff. Not expecting that. We placed the paper work order, but didn't get the birth certificate with the seal until two months later after all the mailing back and forth in Michigan and finally to Spain.
Once we had the legal Birth certificate we made another appointment, headed to the consulate, got the ok, and were ready to get the wedding planned 6 months later! In the end the wait was not a problem, our wedding was perfect and it was so special and important to celebrate with friends and family!
(Extra info: The civil marriage in Spain, when completed with all these steps, is considered legal in the US, there is no extra work to be done, and no registration or extra liscense needed. If you are going to change your last name you will need to take some extra steps at the county clerk and secretary of state where you live . Also, in Spain we asked for an international marriage certificate, with all the stamps and signatures and English translation. And one last detail we did was, just in case, get the Apostille of La Haye on this international certificate also. We got the Apostille from the Tribunal Superior de Xusticia de Galicia. Getting the Apostille could be done through the mail, or in person-although most likely if you go in person you will have to go more than once as getting a signature takes longer than you'd expect.)
But, just a reminder, bureaucracy is slow where ever you maybe, but if you have to have a legal document from the states considered legal in the European Union (or vice versa), before ask about it and get the Apostille de La Haye, it's only $1.