The short version:
Unless you are a resident, you cannot legally get married in a Church or in a civil ceremony in Fuerteventura. As a non-resident, you can, however, partake in a Wedding Blessing Ceremony.
The longer version:
You can only marry in a civil ceremony if have been a Canary Island Resident for over two years and you must provide paperwork from your Ayuntamiento proving that residency. Up until recently, the exception to marrying in church, was for Roman Catholics; unfortunately the diocese of Las Palmas has recently decreed that only Catholics resident in the province of Las Palmas may marry in a Catholic Church within the region. It is not known if this decision is long-term, or if the diocese will revert back to allowing legally-binding Catholic weddings for non-residents in the future.
There are, however, plenty of alternatives for those wanting to celebrate their wedding in Fuerteventura, with many couples opting for a discreet civil or church ceremony back in their country of residence, and then flying out for their “Fuerteventura Wedding”. Many couples choose not to tell family and friends about the ceremony back home (with the legal minimum of 2 witnesses) and treat the wedding in Fuerteventura as their ‘true’ wedding – using that date to celebrate future wedding anniversaries.
Religious Wedding Blessing
Having conducted the civil or religious ceremony back home, you can receive a wedding blessing from an English-speaking Chaplain/minister which usually includes the signing of a register (not legally binding). You will be given a certificate with the date and place of celebration in Fuerteventura, as a memento of the ceremony. It is possible to receive a blessing from a Chaplain in the Church of Nuestra Señora del Carmen in Corralejo, however, this does require more advanced booking, since the church has to be ‘booked’ for the event.
For those with no religious affiliations or for those wanting to personalise their vows or the service, there is the option of a non-religious blessing, presided over by an English-speaking Celebrant. This may include the option to sign a non-legally-binding register and receive a certificate with the date and place of the celebration in Fuerteventura. A civil (or religious) ceremony will need to have taken place back home first.
Just as with other ceremony options, you will need to have conducted the civil ceremony back home, before you can celebrate your marriage in Fuerteventura with a symbolic ceremony.
Whether it’s been one year or 50 years, renewal ceremonies can be a great way to celebrate time together as a married couple and to enjoy something you may have missed out on first time around.
For couples that choose not to go down the legal or religious route, a Commitment Ceremony is a great way for couples to celebrate their love and commitment to each other.
Symbolic Extras to Personalise your Ceremony
One way to personalise your wedding in Fuerteventura, is to include a sand ceremony. This is the symbolic mixing of two or more coloured sands, poured into a vase, glass case or shadow box and kept as a memento of the day.
The participants alternate in pouring coloured sand into the receptacle, to create a layered effect. You can also use a third sand colour, to symbolise your unity. There is also scope to include more than three colours of sand, so couples can include their children or perhaps a family member.
During the sand ceremony, couples may choose to have music playing, a poem read or say some words whilst pouring the sand.
Another popular symbolic addition to your wedding is the Rose Ceremony; the giving and receiving of two single red roses.
The giving of roses is often conducted towards the end of the ceremony and is the first gift that you give to each other as a married couple.
The rose ceremony is very flexible, roses may be handed over by the chaplain/celebrant, parents or perhaps your children.
An alternative approach is that each rose is given to the mother-in-law as a symbol of the joining of families, or to your partner’s children, as a symbol of becoming a new family unit.
Fuerteventura has some of the best beaches in Europe. So it’s not surprising that many people want to get married on the beach. A beach wedding is best organised with the assistance of a Wedding Planner, as there’s a lot of paperwork required.
For a beach wedding, permission is needed from all of the following:
The Ayuntamiento (local council)
The Cabildo (local government)
Costas (Spanish Coastal Authority)
A large beach ceremony was recently shutdown on the Jandia Peninsula because the organisers had not obtained permission from Costas – which is necessary as all beaches are public property. It should be noted that this was a very unusual occurrence and only came to light when an official asked for paperwork, as a large gazebo, a generator and whole host of other paraphernalia was brought into the natural park area.
Hotels up and down the island offer wedding services, from small ceremonies to large parties including wedding breakfasts, evening entertainment etc. Many hotels have dedicated wedding co-ordinators and/or work closely with wedding planners, helping to source everything that you need.
Three of the hotels featured in our Luxury Hotels in Fuerteventura article offer Wedding Services (Gran Hotel Atlantis Bahia Real, Elba Palace Golf and Vital Hotel and the Sheraton Fuerteventura Beach, Golf and Spa Resort.) Bear in mind hotels island wide offer wedding packages, so look into where you’d like to be situated – it’s a big island and it takes around 2 hours to drive from north to south. For more information about the main tourist resorts on the island, click here. With so many amazing beaches, you could also hire the photographer for a second day ‘beach shoot’. That way you don’t have to worry about keeping guests waiting while you have beautiful photographs taken in some of the island’s most stunning locations.
For a more rustic and personal wedding, you can also hire out a villa and combine the wedding ceremony, photography session and wedding breakfast. Most villas can be rented for a week or more, allowing you to combine your wedding with your honeymoon and allowing family and friends to stay and celebrate with you.