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Traditional church ceremony Marbella | Rustic wedding venue celebration


Today, we’re excited to reminisce about the first wedding of the season, held on a gorgeous spring day at the beginning of May. This special occasion took place between a Catholic church in Old Town Marbella and a private venue nestled in the tranquil landscapes of the Costa del Sol.

Join us as we highlight the key moments of Donna and Anthony’s special day, the first couple of the season to say “I do.” Under the guidance of Father Ernesto Ruiz Canales, the couple exchanged heartfelt vows in a traditional church, near Orange Square in Marbella’s historic district. The Church’s historic basilica layout and intricate architecture provided a stunning backdrop as their wedding guests gathered.

The ceremony itself featured timeless music, including “Ave Maria,” with the two best men playing the piano and accordion, adding a personal touch. Once the vows were said and rings exchanged, Donna and Anthony took their first steps together as husband and wife, exiting the religious building to a selection of traditional Irish tunes played on piano, guitar, violin, accordion, and flute.

A beautiful wedding at Marbella's traditional church, featuring an intricately carved and gilded main altar.
A beautiful wedding at Marbella’s traditional church, featuring an intricately carved and gilded main altar.

Post-Ceremony – Celebratory Drinks at a Nearby Plaza

After the ceremony, guests moved to a nearby tapas bar in the sun-drenched streets of Marbella to continue the celebration. The lively atmosphere of Orange Square provided the perfect backdrop for toasts to the newlyweds. Local photographer Racheal from Balance Photography captured these precious moments, from family shots to candid snaps of the newlyweds in Marbella’s charming old town. Then, as the late afternoon sun dipped below the horizon, a private coach transported guests to the next part of the celebration at an exclusive wedding venue.

Private Wedding Venue with Enchanting Spaces

The venue is a hidden gem boasting expansive gardens, ample verandas, and top-notch amenities, embodying timeless elegance and refined design. It serves as the perfect backdrop for couples, like Donna and Anthony featured in today’s bridal story, who envisioned an exceptional setting to say their vows amid unmatched beauty and rustic charm. This remarkable venue, secluded yet conveniently close to Marbella, offers awe-inspiring views of the sea and mountains. Seamlessly blending modern elegance with authentic Andalusian charm, it provides a variety of exquisite spaces to craft a truly enchanting day.

There, Donna and Anthony’s guests were welcomed by the stately stone gateway at the entrance of the venue, leading to a shaded enclave adorned with a lush, greenery-covered pergola. This tranquil setting allowed guests to gather and mingle before joining the newlyweds for an al fresco dining experience; a generous spread which included delicious canapés such as mini beef steak on garlic croute with hollandaise sauce or salsa verde, shredded chicken tikka on mini poppadoms with crispy lettuce and mint yoghourt, spiced mini fish cakes with tomato and coriander salsa, prawn ceviche spoons with avocado, red onion, lime juice, and chilli, and herb chicken wrapped in prosciutto served with aioli. This extensive assortment of canapés was followed by a BBQ featuring a delectable selection of fish, meat, and various salads. Just before the BBQ was served, heartfelt and humorous speeches created both teary and laugh-out-loud moments.

The meal concluded with a trio of desserts: chocolate truffle cake, mojito fruit salad, and white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake, and as the sun dipped below the horizon, casting its golden hour glow, photographer Racheal captured some stunning pre-sunset photos. As twilight descended, a horn sounded, signalling all guests to gather at the amphitheatre, which twinkled with warm white lights. It was time for everyone to lace up their dancing shoes and hit the dance floor.

A colourful confetti shower as the newlyweds exit the church.
A colourful confetti shower as the newlyweds exit the church.

Party Time – Dancing Shoes On!

As night fell, guests prepared for an evening of dancing. The newlyweds kicked off the festivities with their memorable first dance. DJ Steve Altman then took over, spinning a lively playlist that kept everyone on the dance floor until the early hours, wrapping up a day and night filled with unforgettable memories.

To Donna and Anthony, thank you for choosing us for your special day, and to Racheal, for capturing these magical moments.

Hidden Oasis on the Costa del Sol: Venue Overview

Located just a short distance from Marbella, this exclusive venue seamlessly combines modern elegance with authentic Andalusian charm. Featuring breathtaking sea and mountain views, expansive gardens, and a private amphitheatre, it offers an idyllic setting for weddings accommodating up to 150 guests. With easy access—5 kilometres from the nearest church, 40 kilometres from the airport, and 10 kilometres from the beach—convenience is assured.

Originally a cherished family-owned restaurant in Marbella, this venue underwent a significant transformation in 2021. It reemerged as a unique private event space on the historic grounds of an ancient wheat farm, situated along a scenic valley river with cascading waterfalls. The venue retains its rich heritage while integrating modern sophistication and traditional Andalusian architecture, creating a captivating backdrop for romantic celebrations under the sun, perfect for couples beginning their journey together.

Set within an ancient wheat farm along a valley river with waterfalls, this venue—formerly a family-owned restaurant in Marbella—has been relaunched as a magnificent private event space. With picturesque mountain scenery on one side and stunning sea views on the other, it offers an ideal location for capturing unforgettable wedding photos. The venue accommodates up to 8 people, making it perfect for close family and friends leading up to the big day.

Designed specifically for events, the venue features majestic gardens, verandas, six outdoor toilets (including a disabled-accessible one), and a spacious kitchen for catering. The highlight is its amphitheatre, providing a unique and dramatic setting for ceremonies. Guests can enjoy 360-degree mountain views as they are led to the semicircular open-air theatre carved into the mountainside, where they will witness an extraordinary wedding ceremony.

After the ceremony, guests can enjoy a glass of bubbly and traditional Spanish canapés before being seated for a typically Spanish banquet, surrounded by stunning sea and mountain vistas. The venue’s charm and tradition, enhanced by running waterfalls and beautiful gardens, create a timeless atmosphere. As night falls, twinkling lights add a magical touch, making this one of Marbella’s premier wedding venues.

Bridal party gathers in the sunshine outside Marbella's traditional church.
Bridal party gathers in the sunshine outside Marbella’s traditional church.


If you’re considering incorporating a traditional church wedding into your destination wedding plans, keep reading to learn about the rules, regulations, and paperwork required.

Church Weddings in Spain: Rules, Regulations, and Paperwork

Planning a wedding in Spain can be a truly memorable experience. With its picturesque landscapes, historic churches, and rich cultural traditions, Spain offers a unique setting for couples looking to celebrate their love. However, organising a church wedding in Spain requires navigating through a series of specific rules, regulations, and paperwork. The following provides a detailed overview of what couples need to know to successfully plan a church wedding in Spain.

Understanding the Basics: Church Weddings in Spain

When planning a wedding in Spain, many couples choose to marry discreetly in a registry office in their home country and then have their wedding ceremony and reception in Spain. This option is often chosen to simplify the legalities involved. However, it is entirely possible to have a legally recognised Catholic church wedding in Spain, even if one or both of the couple are not Spanish residents.

The below are the requirements typically needed for a Catholic church wedding in Spain:

  1. Baptismal and Confirmation Certificates: Both the bride and groom usually need to provide recent copies of their baptismal and confirmation certificates. These documents should be issued by the Catholic Church and dated within a specified period, typically six months to a year before the wedding.
  2. Premarital Counselling: Couples are often required to undergo pre-marital counselling sessions with a priest or a designated counsellor. These sessions aim to prepare the couple for married life and to discuss important topics such as communication, conflict resolution, and family planning.
  3. Proof of Freedom to Marry: Couples may need to obtain a “Certificate of Freedom to Marry” from their local parish. This document confirms that there are no impediments to the marriage according to Canon Law.
  4. Civil Requirements: In addition to the church requirements, couples must also fulfil any civil requirements for marriage in Spain. This may include obtaining a marriage licence from the local civil registry office and providing necessary documentation such as passports, birth certificates, and proof of residence.
  5. Permission from the Bishop: If one or both of the individuals getting married are not residents of the parish where they wish to marry, they may need to obtain permission from the bishop of that diocese.
  6. Wedding Preparation Course: Some parishes may require couples to attend a wedding preparation course, which covers topics such as the sacrament of marriage, family life, and the wedding ceremony itself.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the process, remember that the Sunshine Team is here to help you navigate through these requirements.

Beautifully decorated al fresco dining area with stunning sea views.
Beautifully decorated al fresco dining area with stunning sea views.
Learn more about the church featured in today’s bridal story, a significant historical and architectural landmark in Marbella. Here are some detailed insights about it:

Historical Background

Origins and Construction:

  • The church was built in the early 16th century, with its construction starting around 1505. It is one of the oldest churches in Marbella.
  • The church was constructed during the period of the Reconquista, when Catholic Monarchs were consolidating their control over formerly Muslim territories. It was built on the site of a former mosque, which was a common practice during that era.

Architectural Style:

  • This Marbella Church is primarily designed in the Baroque style, although it incorporates elements from earlier Gothic and Renaissance styles.
  • The building features a Latin cross plan with a single nave and several chapels.

Significant Renovations:

  • The church has undergone various renovations and restorations over the centuries. Significant updates were made in the 17th and 18th centuries, contributing to its Baroque features.
  • The bell tower, which is one of the most striking features of the church, was added later, in the 18th century.
Guests and the bridal couple gather in the amphitheater space.
Guests and the bridal couple gather in the amphitheater space.

Architectural Features

  • Exterior:
  • The façade of the church is relatively simple, with a notable feature being the Baroque-style entrance door.
  • The bell tower stands out for its height and detailed design, making it a prominent feature of Marbella’s skyline.
  • Interior: 
  • The interior of the church is richly decorated, with an elaborate main altar and several side chapels dedicated to various saints.
  • The main altar is an excellent example of Baroque art, featuring intricate wood carvings and gilded decorations.

Art and Relics:

  • The church houses several important religious artworks, including statues, paintings, and other ecclesiastical treasures.
  • One of the notable pieces is the statue of Our Lady of the Incarnation (Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación), the patron saint of Marbella, which is highly respected by the local community.

Religious Role:

  • The Church is an active place of worship and plays a central role in the religious life of Marbella.
  • It hosts regular masses, religious festivals, and community events.
Golden hour magic and first dance moments.
Golden hour magic and first dance moments.

Festivals and Events:

  • The church is a focal point during Holy Week (Semana Santa), with various processions and religious activities taking place in and around the church.
  • The feast day of Our Lady of the Incarnation is celebrated with special ceremonies and processions.

Location and Accessibility

  • Location: The church is located in the Old Town (Casco Antiguo) of Marbella, which is a historic area known for its narrow, winding streets and traditional Andalusian architecture.
  • Accessibility: It is easily accessible to visitors and is a popular tourist destination. The church is often included in walking tours of the Old Town.

This beautiful Church stands as a testament to Marbella’s rich history and cultural heritage, reflecting the city’s evolution from its Moorish past to its present-day significance, and is a popular choice for many bridal couples seeking a traditional church wedding in southern Spain.

Sealed with a kiss as natural light adds magic, and the bridal veil is lifted in the evening breeze.
Sealed with a kiss as natural light adds magic, and the bridal veil is lifted in the evening breeze.