Eight considerations for a Costa del Sol wedding

19 Jul 2017

Considering a destination wedding in Costa del Sol? Here is what you need to think about...

Words: Dakota Murphey

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Image gallery

What’s more glamorous than a destination beach wedding? Sparkling waves, silky sand and the gentle tingle of the sun on your shoulders. Your special day deserves to be set somewhere equally as wonderful, which is why many couples from the UK are opting to take their vows in the glowing warmth of the Costa del Sol in the south of Spain. 

There are good reasons why Marbella is a popular spot for beach-keen couples. For starters, flights between London and Malaga are only around three hours long, meaning more family can come and join you for the occasion. There is also an average of 300 sunny days a year, meaning there’s no worry about the day being a wash-out.

If you’re tempted by a luxurious beach ceremony, here are some of the important things to consider when marrying in the sultry Spanish heat.

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1. Getting organised

It can’t be emphasised enough how important it is to get expert help when planning your wedding. Many couples completely underestimate the amount of work involved in the planning, and get exhausted and frustrated by the endless list of things to do. A professional wedding planner will know every detail like the back of their hand, and help you navigate through all the important decisions in a timely manner.

This is never more crucial than if you’re trying to plan a wedding that will take place in another country. Securing a reservation at the Marbella Club or Puente Romano is going to be nearly impossible without local assistance, and hiring a local team like the Marbella Wedding Angels will make negotiating with vendors that much easier.

2. Pick your season

The dream beach wedding is completed by a delicate drenching of sunshine, a gentle breeze and the sound of waves lapping the shore. However, this also describes most tourists’ perfect holiday weather, so you could easily be contending for space during your destination’s high season.

Depending on how well you cope with the heat, be aware that the Costa del Sol will typically exceed temperatures of 25°C in June, July and August. Many brides find themselves much more comfortable in May, September or October, when the weather hovers closer to a balmy 20°C. Use the same logic when planning the day itself, and avoid midday ceremonies. The most popular time for a Spanish wedding is 5pm, allowing you to enjoy the clear skies without overheating.

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3. Beach ceremony, reception or both?

The logistics of saying your vows on Playa Nagüeles or Fontanilla beach and then heading inland to a reception venue are far different than if you’re planning to spend the whole evening on the sand. Decide what kind of affair you would prefer, then make sure the appropriate paperwork is in order, and that you have your permit from the town hall for an ocean-side ceremony.

Additionally, think carefully about which parts of the event will have to take place on the sand – will people be standing or sitting? Do you need food or drinks positioned on the beach?

The most practical solution is usually to have your ceremony in one of the beautiful beach clubs along the seafront, which will give you the best of both worlds; an idyllic spot for your ceremony and an elegant function room to retire to in the evening.

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4. Your guest dress code

As much as it’s your special day, don’t neglect your guests in the heat. Make sure they know the ceremony will be taking place on the sand, and even if your dress code is formal, be clear about what measures your guests can take to stay comfortable.

Popular choices for any beach wedding are to provide a flip-flop bar so guests can change between day and night, and give out welcome bags with bottles of cold water, fans and sunscreen. Don’t let anyone stay standing in the sun too long, and provide shade, seats and refreshments throughout.

5. The dress

Have you always pictured yourself getting married in a long white gown? While there are plenty of local luxury bridal boutiques for you to find the dress of your dreams, remember that the sand and Mediterranean Sea won’t do a long hemline any favours. Consider a shorter, but glamorous style like a fitted cocktail dress, or flowing Grecian design if you want to avoid your gown getting dirty.

Alternatively, if you simply have to have a floor-length dress, choose a lightweight fabric like chiffon or silk charmeuse that won’t collect debris in the same way that tulle or lace will.

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6. Hair and make-up

Tears of joy, kisses, dancing; wedding day make-up already has a lot of demands made of it and that’s before you factor in a frantic sea breeze, or a blazing beating from the sun. Flowing curls can quickly look like a bird’s nest, and a flawless mask of make-up is likely to sweat down onto your dress. Be wise when choosing your look and use a professional local salon like Golden Tarts, Puerto Banús, to create a glamorous, weather-proof look. Couple that with a windproof hairstyle and stock up on that factor 50.

7. Footwear

There’s no denying that flip-flops are going to be much less hassle on the beach than Louboutins, but you do still have a choice. If you can’t bear the thought of wearing flats down the aisle, consider wearing wedges – your legs will look just as fabulous as they would in stilettos, but you’ll get much more support for walking on the sand. Alternatively, cheat your way to success and buy a wooden walkway to bury just beneath the surface of the sand. Your heel won’t sink into the ground every time you take a step and you can still enjoy every inch of the Golden Mile in your pictures.

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Where next?

A major perk of getting married on the Costa del Sol is that your honeymoon can start immediately. Whether you’re a party animal, foodie fiend or culture vulture, the province of Málaga has plenty for you, your partner and friends and family to enjoy on your break. If you’re not sure where to get started, here are the top five unforgettable spots:

1. Puerto Banús

The epitome of no-expense-spared Marbellan extravagance is Puerto Banús, the place to be – and be seen – all summer long. Its designer boutiques and exclusive beach clubs are known for attracting the super-rich and famous, who you can mingle with (for a price) at glitzy champagne parties and high-end restaurants around the resort.

2. Casares  

For something a little more low-key, head a few miles inland to Casares, one of the region’s beautiful white villages, or Pueblos Blancos. Its traditional 'sugar-cube' houses tumbling through the mountains are perhaps best seen from neighbouring Malaga, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more tranquil retreat than wandering the Casares streets or taking a dip in the beautiful Banos de la Hedionda.

3. Málaga    

If you’re itching for a city break, head into Málaga. It’s brimming with charm and culture to rival any European capital, such as the stunning Catedral de Málaga, and the exclusive collection at the Museo Picasso. For a romantic afternoon stroll and a fabulous panoramic view of the city, head up to the Gibralfaro Castle, before enjoying a sunset over the ocean with a glass (or two) of the local wine.

4. Playa del Cañuelo      

It’s also worth taking a day or two to discover the Playa del Cañuelo, slightly further up the coast at Nerja, and widely regarded as the coast’s best beach. Its distinctive grey sand makes the sea breath-takingly clear, and the short walk down the cliffs keeps the crowds and tourist tackiness at bay.

5. Fuengirola

Last but by no means least, is the popular town of Fuengirola. Its sweeping beaches are a haven for water sports enthusiasts, while spectators can watch from one of the many independent tapas bars and cafés. Animal lovers should take a trip to the innovative Bioparc Fuengirola, which hosts more than 200 species of animals in spaces dedicated to recreating their natural environments, and is considered a ground-breaking new concept for zoological parks.