Viva Los Novios [The Story of a Spanish Wedding]

I have to laugh when my iTouch auto-corrects “boda” (Spanish for “wedding”) to “bodacious” (80’s American for “awesome”) .. my various bits of technology cannot keep up with my code-switching.

This wedding was an adventure from the get go. Three important facts to start: 1) not my wedding; 2) not in the country in which I currently reside; 3) invitation received via Facebook on April 26 for wedding June 16 (yes, same year).

So what do you do when your host sister says “I really want you here to share my day.. in 6 weeks?” You buy a plane ticket, of course. Forget the fact that it’s summer, high-season, hot, wildly expensive and on very short notice. Buy the plane ticket! And that’s what I did.

It was to be my first Spanish wedding, and after all the hype I’d seen surrounding other events like this one en la patria (see: Fatima’s First Communion), I started asking questions. Luckily, I have several friends who a) are dating Spaniards, b) are married to Spaniards, c) have attended Spanish weddings. Everything from some of the most basic advice on what to wear (evening wedding long dress no hairpiece); on what to give (pay for your plate); on what to expect (at least 8 hours of your time).

In what can only be defined as Typical Spanish – I did not actually have confirmation of wedding details until the night before. You know, when I met up with the bride for a beer and some tapas. The night before. Before her wedding. It is a true testament to the Spanish that they can maintain the “no pasa nada” attitude in all things, at all times. This must have brushed off on me over the years because I booked a ticket and boarded a plane without these precious details. Americana / Andaluza, ya sabes.

During my whirlwind weekend, here are some of the differences I noticed between American & Spanish weddings:

* no rehearsal dinner – as evidenced by the bride’s availability within 24 hours of her walking down the aisle.
* old, new, borrowed & blue – also holds true in Spain. This discovery after a panicked conversation with the bride the night before.
* Catholic mass, yes. Wrote their own vows. Dad walked her down the aisle (looking super guapo in his tux, I think).

walking down the aisle

walking down the aisle

* conspicuously absent: “you may now kiss the bride” – in fact he kissed her on the cheek when she arrived.
* also missing: “I now pronounce you man & wife” – family photos commenced almost immediately afterward, leaving the Americans in the audience waiting for the return walk down the aisle that never happened.


family photo

* no bridal party – bride’s choice. As Kaley recently lamented, this also eliminates the need for choosing a color and coordinating all of your decorations.
* exchange of coins, and rings – coins are a nice touch; “I will love you even if we go broke in this economy.” It should also be noted that the ring goes on the right hand in Spain – a point of contention for many Americanas.


with this ring

* no father / daughter dance – which is a shame because Juan would have been a hit on the dance floor.
* no tapping of the glasses to get the couple to smooch – instead some yells: viva los novios! and the response is: viva! Yes, this is a mixture of “long live the Queen” and “go team” which is pretty appropriate for matrimony.
* gifts to guests – handed out, instead of favors on the tables (olive oil for the men, fans for the women).


ideal favor in 100 degree heat

* four hour meal, several courses – LONG dinner.
* cut the cake with a sword (!) – I’m told this is seriously old school, but it happened.


sword cutting the cake

* no garter toss – bouquet did go, to a particularly aggressive friend in the front.
* pictures of tables – similar to theme park photos, smile pretty and buy this from us later! Which is why we’re taking a photo of the photo.

photo of photo

photo of photo

* videographer – and I don’t mean, let’s get this documented for future generations. I mean, let’s get this on the 5 o’clock news. For reference, see the cake-cutting photo.
* package deal – most weddings I’ve been to involve the church bit and the reception bit, it’s not so much a pick and choose. Well at the church there were approximately 50 people. At the reception there were 200, and that’s what we call priorities.
* rose petals & rice – the tradition of throwing things at the happy couple continues.

Total time clocked at the wedding? About 12 hours. I walked home (in flats) at the end of the night, or the beginning of the following day, at 5 a.m. Anything in the name of love, right?


Americanas & family


7 thoughts on “Viva Los Novios [The Story of a Spanish Wedding]

  1. LOVE this post (and not only because I’m in wedding countdown mode)! So interesting. I’ll probably never make it to a Spanish wedding – thanks for sharing, Kelly! I think I said this before – you’re one lucky girl to have that amazing familia española to return to. 🙂


  2. That’s so fun! They seem to have done a really traditional wedding in many ways– I can’t believe the sword! I’m going to my brother-in-law’s wedding on Saturday, and the NIGHT BEFORE they are having a big birthday party for the bride, with an open bar! Can you even believe it?


  3. ;)Everything´s true!! Spain is different!! 😀 (I
    ´m a spanish bride in her countdown…
    123days!!) I´ll tell everything
    to all my american friends
    in advance.. in case…hehehe Love your blog!


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