So you’ve been invited to a wedding in Spain but you’re not sure what to wear or what gift you’re supposed to give the newlyweds? I’ve created a list of “rules” or recommendations based on the weddings I’ve attended over the years in the provinces of Seville, Cádiz and Huesca as well as the advice my local friends have shared. I had questions about all of these rules before attending my first wedding in Spain – so I hope you find them helpful! 😉 You may find the rules differ between provinces but I haven’t experienced anything to indicate the contrary to what I’ve listed below. If you’re aware of “rules” that should be included in this list feel free to comment below! Check out my posts on what guests should wear to spring/summer and fall/winter weddings too!
Psst! There’s a newer version of this post! Click here for my top 2020 Spanish wedding etiquette and fashion tips now.
1. Casual weddings don’t exist
All of the weddings I’ve attended in Spain have been formal events. Everything you wear to the wedding should be brand-new and you definitely can’t wear the same dress to two different events (this is generally the case for ladies…guys can just switch up their tie); I’ve purchased new jewelry, a new dress, new shoes and accessories for almost every wedding I’ve attended here. I’ve also never seen or heard of a “casual” wedding in Spain; the only exception might be if it is a second or third marriage for either the bride or groom – in this case the betrothed should communicate the dress code to guests.
2. Remember day wedding vs. night wedding fashion rules
Day weddings usually involve a ceremony at around 1pm followed by hors d’oeuvres and lunch at 3/4pm. Night weddings tend to take place around 8pm followed by hors d’oeuvres and dinner at 10/11pm. Generally the rule is day wedding equals short dress, night wedding equals long dress but I’ve seen ladies wear monos to day weddings and short dresses to night weddings…just wear what you like best! Personally, I wear shawls to all the weddings I go to; they’re perfect for covering up during mass (lots of religious ceremonies here!) and still look formal if you get chilly later on in the evening. It’s not mandatory to cover up, but you’ll notice other women doing it inside the church. Shawls work for day or night weddings and you’ll be able to find them in the same shops where tocados are sold (explained below).
3. When to wear hair accessories
I’m American, so wearing “tocados” or “fascinators” as they’re called in the UK was a completely new concept for me.
Tocados can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and they should match your dress or other accessories (purse, shoes, accents in dress, etc). Tocado prices usually range from 10€ to 100€ and you can also find shops where they can create tocados for you based on your outfit; in Sanlúcar for example there are quite a few shops were you can design your own for around 30€.
Learn how to avoid fashion faux pas and find more wedding accessory tips here.
4. It’s normal to get your hair styled
Many women do their own hair and makeup for weddings but I’ve noticed usually more than half of the female guests go to salons to get their hair styled too, even if they aren’t part of the bridal party. DIY hairstyles are another great option if you don’t want to pay to have your hair done; there are tons of examples and instructions on Pinterest!
5. Clutch purses are the way to go
Girls usually bring clutch purses to weddings; I’ve seen large and small clutches, cloth and metal materials, sparkles, studs and everything in between – basically anything goes as long is it looks nice with your outfit.
6. Always wear heels…always
I’ve never seen girls wear anything but high-heels to a wedding in Spain – no wedges, sandals, etc. The secret to wearing gorgeous heels is to bring a pair of flats to change into later on in the night; you’ll look great in all the photos taken during the ceremony/reception but comfortable when it’s time to get down on the dance floor. I just purchased some roll-up flats similar to the shoes shown below and they have been a lifesaver!
7. White is for the bride only
The same rule applies in the States – the only time you wear white to a wedding is if you are the bride!
8. Money is the go-to wedding gift in Spain
Money is the go-to-gift nowadays. In the past people had wedding registries like we do in the States but now that more and more couples live together before marriage (and don’t need that kind of stuff) it’s common to transfer money directly into the newlyweds’ account (usually they’ll include their account info with the invitations) or give them cash at the wedding reception. From what I’ve seen it’s normal for guests to give the bride and groom about 75 – 100€ per person (so 200€ for you and your date). If you know a wedding is going to be expensive (i.e. the catering will definitely be upwards of 75€ a person) then you would give 150€ or 200€ each. If someone asks you to accompany him or her to a wedding as their date they should be responsible for your part of the “gift”. By giving money, guests help the newlyweds save on wedding costs and sometimes they end up with extra money to pay for their honeymoon too! With the current economic situation it’s understandable that not everyone can afford to give such an expensive gift; in this case you should try to give an amount of money within your means or find an alternative gift instead of money.
9. When in doubt, rent your look!
Based on rule number one it’s clear attending several weddings a year can get expensive if you’re got to buy new stuff for each one. If you’re not sure what to wear or don’t want to buy everything for each wedding there is another solution; shops like Rental Mode will rent you a “look” for a wedding and it only costs 60€. When you go to one of their shops a stylist will help you pick your look including any accessories you might need. These stylists know the “rules” for Spanish weddings so you can be sure your look will be perfect for the event. I’ve attended weddings where my friends used Rental Mode and their outfits looked great!
10. Don’t be afraid to try something new
As you can see, Spanish weddings are known for being very special events; you can expect plenty of great fashion, food, and don’t be surprised if the reception lasts until 6 or 7am! Check out the latest trends and try a new style for the next wedding you attend; tocados can be the perfect touch to your outfit and items like pants and monos are super trendy right now (monos and pants can work for day or night weddings depending on your accessories). Don’t be afraid to try new things; if this is the first time you’re attending a wedding in Spain then chances are there’s also a lot of other “firsts” going on in your life right now – open yourself up to this new culture and enjoy the experience!