Whether you're residents of the U.S. who are traveling in Europe or one of you lives in Spain, you might decide you want to get married there. Some rules for doing so depend on whether at least one of you is a Spanish citizen. You'll have to work with the Spanish Civil Registry in the area where the native spouse resides to ensure a smooth wedding if one of you is a foreigner. Here are a few other requirements to keep in mind.
The Consul rules for documents may change periodically and can vary by region, so call ahead to verify their requirements.
If you're not a Spanish citizen, you'll need your original long-form birth certificate from the U.S. Take it to the Civil Registry. The Registry will translate it and give you a legal Spanish copy. The Spanish copy will be dated and it's only good for six months. You'll also need your passport.
You must have lived in Spain for at least two years if you're not a citizen and you want a civil ceremony. Go to the Town Hall in the area where you've been residing and ask for a Certificado de Empadronamiento — a town hall certificate of proof of residency. If you haven't lived in Spain this long, you have two options. You can get married in the states and simply bless your marriage in Spain, or you can cross the border from Spain into Gibraltar which has less stringent requirements.
The Marital Status Certificate
You'll need a Fe de Vida y Estado — a marital status certificate — from the Civil Registry if you're a Spanish citizen. Otherwise, you'll need a certificate from the U.S. consulate confirming that you're alive and you're eligible to marry.
The Petition to Marry
Next, you must complete a petition to marry at the Registry. The Registry will collect everything from you, process your file, and notify you when you can return to pick everything up and get married. This can take up to six weeks.
All your documents must be in Spanish or translated into Spanish. If you want to take care of things in advance, a Spanish consulate in the U.S. can authenticate your translated documents for you, then you can just take them with you. You'll need the original English document as well as the translated copy.
You'll have to show evidence that you're no longer legally married if you're divorced or widowed. Proof can include an original death certificate, an annulment certificate or a divorce decree. These documents must bear the apostille or official seal of the Hague and must also be translated into Spanish.
The Big Day
You'll need at least one witness at your marriage ceremony, and it cannot be a relative. The witness must also be at least 18 years old. If you want to get married at the Town Hall, you must request the date and time in writing. You can also get married at the Civil Registry.
Unless you request a civil ceremony and meet the corresponding residency requirement, your ceremony must Catholic. Only Catholic unions are legally recognized religious marriages in Spain. And if you choose a Catholic ceremony, you'll want to begin the process a good six months ahead with your parish at home in the U.S. because this means meeting several religious requirements as well.
After the Wedding
If you're a foreigner, you must register your union with your consulate in Spain after the marriage, as well as with the Spanish Civil Registry.