‘The perfect excuse to keep it simple’: Getting married in Spain during the pandemic

'The perfect excuse to keep it simple': Getting married in Spain during the pandemic
Agata and Joce tied the knot at a small civil ceremony in January 2021.
Covid has complicated wedding plans for thousands of brides and grooms who are looking to tie the knot in Spain. But is it worth waiting for restrictions to end or is a low-key ceremony with masks and little dancing still worth it? The Local speaks to two sets of couples about their experiences.

It’s fair to say that when it comes to real-life scenarios where the risk of contracting Covid-19 is high, wedding ceremonies are right up there.

There’s all the kissing and hugging, the often large groups of people travelling from different locations, the indoor seating, the up-close dancing and shouting as the night wears on.

All this means that weddings have been heavily regulated since the start of the pandemic, with every region setting its own wedding rules about how long the celebrations can last for, how many guests can attend and how many people per table.

And even though more than 16 months have passed since Covid-19 came to dominate our lives, a rise in infections across the country could mean that as the summer rolls along – the peak wedding season –  restrictions can change with little notice and force couples to rethink existing wedding plans.

So is it still worth going ahead with a wedding during the pandemic or is it better to wait?

Small civil ceremony

“The pandemic didn’t affect our marriage plans enormously,” Tenerife dentist Joce Loza told The Local Spain about his civil ceremony with Agata Grochocka, who works as a receptionist at the same dental clinic.

“In fact, in some ways it helped us and it was perhaps the perfect excuse we needed to keep it simple and hassle-free, as we never wanted a big ceremony.” 

“For example, thanks to the pandemic we didn’t have to go to the Polish Embassy in Madrid to get one of the documents required by the civil registry given that I’m a Polish national residing in Spain,” Agata said. 

“They just sent it to us by email. I don’t know if everyone will have the same experience in terms of getting documents ready, I also had my aunt in Poland helping, but overall it was fairly easy.”

When Joce and Agata got engaged in late 2020, the civil registry in Santa Cruz de Tenerife was closed to the general public due to the pandemic so their only option to find out about the Covid rules for civil weddings was to phone.

“We tried several times over the course of a month and eventually we managed to get through,” Joce explained. 

“They told us that if we didn’t have all the paperwork in order everything would be delayed.

“So to avoid any more mishaps due to Covid, we got as many documents ready in advance as possible to fast-track the process and even called Agata’s sister to rush down to the civil registry to be a witness for us for the acta matrimonial (initial marriage certificate) to kill two birds with one stone with the process.

“We were then able to get a space for the marriage ceremony around a month and a half later in early 2021.”

At the time, the limit of people who could attend a civil marriage ceremony was five, including the bride and groom. But this suited Joce and Agata fine, who said they would have only invited close friends and family members from mainland Spain and Poland in normal times.

“On the day, they didn’t tell us if we could kiss, so we first listened to the city councillor’s brief speech, said our ‘yes I dos’, hugged and kissed outside before having our wedding ‘banquet’ at home with a few close friends,” Joce recalls.

“There’ll be people who’ll say we were crazy to get married during the pandemic like that, but I’d do the same thing all over again,” Agata concludes.

Bigger wedding celebration

It’s a different story for Venezuelan Karina Cova and her Spanish partner, who have been planning their wedding for a while, but due to the pandemic have put it off until autumn 2021.

“Delays, delays, delays. If getting married as a foreigner here in Spain can already be a tedious process from what I’ve heard, delays in bureaucratic procedures  due to Covid have made everything so much more complicated,” Barcelona-based Karina told The Local Spain.

“Whether it’s because of reduced office capacities or restrictions affecting opening times – everybody’s had everything pushed back. Most appointments we could get were at least four months in the future. Paperwork (birth certificates, etc) we needed got mailed here weeks after the estimated arrival dates”.

Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

Karina explained how they chose to get married in October 2021 instead of during the summer as this would give them more time to make up for any eventualities and they hoped many of the issues relating to Covid-19 would no longer be in place.

When asked if Covid-19 had affected the actual planning details of the wedding, Karina told The Local that “Covid was on our minds when we chose the wedding venue. 

“We wanted something outdoors for the ceremony because I want to walk down the aisle looking at everybody’s faces and not masks!”.

Karina and her fiancé chose a cocktail wedding instead of a sit-down menu, which gives people the option of choosing their table and sitting with people in their bubble or staying outside on the terrace if they’d rather.

She said they already wanted a medium-sized wedding and that Covid did not really affect the numbers. “I think we actually ended up inviting more people than we had discussed at first,” she said.

“But the size of the wedding was also more about cost than Covid,” she added. 

Her main concerns about the wedding however were not about social bubbles or bottles of hand gel, but about if her family and friends from all over the world would be able to come.

“I was concerned that Spain’s borders would stay closed for tourism, but it seems now that’s probably not going to be the case. 

“We also wanted older family members to attend and fortunately it is already reality that they’ll be vaccinated.

“Overall, we wouldn’t go through with the celebration if my family hadn’t been able to travel or if I felt the situation was still out of control,” she concluded.

“Most of us should be vaccinated by then (fingers crossed) and life has to continue, I think there’s no use waiting for ‘absolute normality’. 

“Adapting and adjusting to whatever comes as we go along is the new normal.”

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