Some frequently asked questions, from how to start the planning, to questions on the church music, & decoration, to ideas on how to amuse children at weddings......
Q: Help!...Where do I start with planning a wedding abroad and how does it work? A: I like to think of the wedding planning in 7 steps - here goes:
Step 1: Contact me; usually this is within a year and a half to 6 months before the wedding (obviously the earlier the better). I can answer all of your questions by email or I can call you.
Step 2: Visit Nerja; to meet with me to view the venues in the Nerja area, look at menus and more photos. To end the meeting, we will sit down and go over a budget for your wedding, the suppliers needed, prices etc to give you a good idea on the cost of everything. You take all the information you need with you, and contact me on your return with your decision. You do not have to sign up for anything at this meeting or make any decisions.
Step 3: Make a Booking - church, venue, wedding planner; The Nerja church does not require a deposit. The venue asks for 600€ deposit. Once I confirm your chosen date with the church and the venue, I will give you the go ahead to pay the venue. This is paid directly by you into their bank account. You don’t make anymore payments to the venue until the week of the wedding. I then ask you to pay my deposit around this time, so I can forward you on my "client information" (this is information/website links all the suppliers and musicians).
Step 4: Plan a 2nd visit; Based on the information you have on the suppliers, I start to make bookings for you, at your request, and / or make appointments for you to meet with them on your second visit (photographers, florist, cake lady, hair and make up trials etc). Top of the "to do" list is to taste the food and wine at the venue - so I ask you to send me your choices from their menus. I can also arrange for you to meet with musicians where possible, to hear them play - although i will provide you with their websites, play lists and cds beforehand. Before this second visit, I will advise you who will need to be paid a deposit and how best to pay them (cash or visa).
Step 5: 2nd visit; on this visit we go through the "to do" list (all prearranged in Step 4) and confirm the suppliers´ bookings after the meetings / trials, and the final menu choice after the taster. We revisit the venues also and discuss table plans, decorations, and timing of the day in more detail. Deposits to be paid on this visit are normally small holding deposits to the hairdresser, makeup artist and photographer. Usually, around the time of the second visit you should be organising your paperwork with your local parish priest too.
Step 6: The final countdown; in the months before the wedding, we will be in constant touch by email. I work by a checklist at this stage. Each part of the wedding day has its own "box" and in it will be the timing, the suppliers needed, who to pay / who has been paid a deposit, when to pay and how (cash, bank transfer, visa), and also food, drink and music needed during this time. Other suppliers such as the florist, photographers, and hair and makeup artists will also have their booking details on this.
Step 7: The week of the wedding; we arrange to meet as soon as you arrive to go over the checklist face to face, make payments, and visit the venue and the suppliers to reconfirm all details with them. I then leave you to enjoy your days before the wedding to meet and greet your family and friends, leaving you with peace of mind that everything is under control!
Q: Do I need to be in nerja any particular number of days before the wedding, by law? A: No, this may be neccesary for other countries, but there is no such law for marrying in Spain.
Q: Do you normally have dessert and wedding cake? A: Not normally no. You can opt for the spanish style wedding cake thats included in the menu price. It can be presented in tiers but is more a dessert type cake - cream, vanilla or chocolate sponge and fresh fruit, or a cheesecake or similiar. If you want a traditional iced and decorated cake, you can have one instead but you pay for this separately from a different supplier. It can still be the dessert - popular flavours are chocolate, lemon or victoria sponge, - the hotel can serve it with fresh fruit and icecream too.
Q: Do guests have a choice of main meal on the wedding day?
A: No. Spanish couples tend to offer a full 4 course meal - starter, fish course, meat course and wedding cake. A sorbet in between the fish and the meat course is a good idea also. Most Irish, British couples will only have a 3 course. Some have the same main for everyone OR if you do want to offer a choice of mains, you have to ask your guests before the wedding (you can put this on the invite) and advise the hotel by 10 days before the wedding the numbers of each. They will also cater for kids, vegetarians, and anyone with allergies - but again they need to know this information in advance.
Q: Do you have to have a long top table? And how many guests normally sit on the other tables? A: No, not if you don´t want to. Some opt for a round table although this means that some will sit with their backs to the room. You can have a horseshoe shaped top table instead. Most guest tables are for 8 to 10 guests. If you have a big wedding you are better off filling the tables with 10 guests on each, to have less tables in the room, so you are closer together. If its a small wedding you can have tables for 6 guests if you wish, to fill the room out a bit more.
Q: What kind of decoration should I put on the tables? Do I need to buy favours, place names, table numbers or names? A: Most venues supply small flower centres for the tables to match your colour scheme. They also provide printed menus and tea candles. If you wish you can order some petals or similar to scatter on the tables too. As there are many glasses on the table - for wine, water, cava toast, and cutlery for the various courses, with side plates and napkins, I really don´t think you need much more. Sometimes the tables can look too cluttered otherwise. Favours tend to get left behind, and place names ignored but it´ s up to you. As long as you have a list of guests on display to show what table they are seated at, that´s the main thing. The hotel will also supply the table numbers, but if you want table names you have to supply these yourselves. Bows and chair covers are extra.
Q: What´s the best sort of music for during the meal? And after? And are there any restrictions on times for music? A: Just background music will do for the meal, either cd´s provided by the hotel or you can bring your own cd´s / ipod. Most couples leave the live music until after the meal - for instance a flamenco show or rat pack hour before the band / dj start. Live music is only allowed until midnight outdoors, so if your meal is outdoors, you will have to go indoors at some stage to continue the party.
Q: What type of music is allowed in the church? And how many songs are usually played? A: The priest will only allow classical or religious music. The exception to this rule is for the exit song - this can be a livelier tune if you wish. You normally have 6 songs during the service: entrance, light single candles, light marriage candle, communion, sign papers / photos at altar and the exit.
Q: What type of decoration is allowed in the church? And is confetti allowed? Do shoulders have to be covered? A: Only flowers at the altar are allowed. The cost of these can be shared if theres another wedding the same day or if you pay for your own you can take them with you afterwards to the venue. You can place your marriage candles in the flower centre on the altar, no need to bring candle holders. Flowers on pew ends are NOT allowed, nor a red carpet. Confetti is allowed outside the church. Shoulders do not have to be covered.
Q: Is it hot inside the church? A: From June to Septmeber it can be hot inside the church. There are electric fans there, that I put on half an hour before the ceremony. You can supply hand fans and water for your guests to help keep them cool. Some couples also provide freshen up kits at the venues for after the church - deodrants, wipes, sun cream, hair clips, mints etc..
Q: How long does the ceremony last for? Is it a full mass? Is there communion? And who supplies the mass books? A: A wedding ceremony is usually just that, the wedding ceremony with communion - not the full mass i.e no offetory. It lasts for 35 minutes, as long as the bride/groom/guests arrive on time, if not the ceremony will be cut short. Couples have to make up their own mass books / order of service. I can supply a master copy to work from. You can have them printed in Spain or print them yourselves and bring them over.
Q: What times are the wedding ceremonies at? A: Normally 4pm and 5pm. Due to the heat, this normally works well. You can marry at 1pm too, but not during siesta time from 2pm to 4pm. Sometimes there are 2 weddings on the same day but I can liaise with the other couple or their wedding planner to make sure everything runs smoothly, that everyone is on time so theres no bumping in to the other wedding.
Q: When do we get to meet the priest? And who comes along to the rehearsal? A: I will arrange a rehearsal for you the week of the wedding to meet with the priest. He will go over the mass booklet with you and will only take 5 minutes. You can bring along other members of the wedding party to familiarise them with the church, but the preist won´t do a full rehersal. I will go over all of this part with you.
Q: Can we hire equipment for our baby instead of bringing over everything with us? And whats the best way to keep the children amused during the meal on the actual wedding day? A: We can provide a seperate table for the children with colouring pens and books and stickers, bubbles, disposable cameras, toys and games. We can also hire a TV and DVD player too. There are childrens entertainers and babysitters available also - please email me about this. Also if anyone needs to hire baby equipment for the duration of their stay - I have a contact for this, they can provide bottle sterilising equipment, buggy, play pen, high chair etc...
Q: How long will it take for our photo album to be ready? A: It depends on the photographer. The local man I recommend may be cheaper than others but it can take up to 3 months to get the cd rom proofs of the photos, and a further 3 months to get the album after you place the order. Some couples just contract him for the CD rom only and they can make up their own album. I also recommend another 2 Irish photographers, their prices may be higher, but you get the proofs quicker and will have access to them on line.
Q: Should we organise a party for the day before or after the wedding?
A: Its a nice touch to have a party before the wedding, especially if both sides of the family don´t know each other very well. And as for after the wedding, its a great idea for everyone to get together to talk about the day before. My only advice would be to keep it simple as it can easily spiral out of control and be more stressful than the wedding day. Remember some of your guests may not turn up, some like to do their own thing, and others may arrive late, have eaten already etc.. So I think the best thing to do is, to choose a bar or terrace that also do food. Turn up on the night or pre-book an area for a small group and then as and when guests show up, get more tables and chairs around for them. If you want to buy a round of drinks, do. If you´re hungry order from the menu on the spot, as and when you like - most bars do tapas. Some of the bar owners have started giving out rules, prices for hiring an area, and minimum spends and if you pre-order food for 40 and only 30 show up then you pay for 40 etc... You don´t want to be tied to something like this. Unless its for a definite number of people at a restaurant you like and you will order from the menu as usual, I´d stay away from pre booking food/drink. Another option is to book at a local Irish bar - if you pre-book and tell them there will be at least 30 to 40 people they will do you a free buffet.