Last Sunday we caught up with Scott Gibbons, founder of Sunshine Weddings, whilst he was enjoying a stroll down by the beach promenade, near Marbella’s iconic Puente Romano.
Whilst we stopped for a cup of coffee with a sea view in glorious sunny weather, others were enjoying an early lunch or on the beach itself, sunbathing and relishing the refreshing sea water.
We discussed destination weddings post Covid-19 lockdown, with Scott shedding light on the current situation in Spain.
Hi Scott, thanks for taking time out of your busy day to give us a quick interview, one might believe that with no or very few weddings taking place right now, your schedule would be somewhat relaxed, but I believe you’re still getting up at the crack of dawn?
Yes, despite a halt in wedding celebrations due to the covid-19 pandemic, many couples are still dreaming of an overseas location for their special day and our global audience means chats with bridal couples in New Zealand, Australia, Asia and the Middle East are early on in the day.
In fact, I’m in constant communication with all of the Sunshine Wedding bridal couples planning an event in 2021 (and beyond) and with all those who had to postpone last year or put back weddings from this year.
After a cautious start to the year, it’s great to see Covid-19 restrictions lifting, with the majority of Spain, including the whole of the Costa del Sol, and hotspot areas like where we in Marbella, resume a sort of ‘normality’, or what officials call ‘Level 2 Alert’ which sees all bars, restaurants and shops open until 10:30pm.
In fact, perhaps the only main, obvious difference right now compared to pre-covid, is you need to wear a mask in public spaces during the day.
In Mallorca, the situation is slightly different to the rest of Spain, despite having one of the lowest cumulative incidence rates in Spain, they have continued with stricter regulations in a bid to suppress the virus on the island to the lowest level possible in preparation for the summer season. Currently, bars and restaurants can open their sidewalk cafes up to 50% capacity until 5pm and we expect restrictions to lift after Easter.
As we move into Spring, what can bridal couples, with their hearts set on a destination wedding in Spain, expect?
In general things are looking positive, the third coronavirus wave in Spain continues to ease and governments, both central and regional, continue to relax restrictions in a vigilant manner in order to avoid a fourth wave, permitting health authorities to continue with their mass vaccination campaign.
So, though typically we would always look for final numbers six weeks before the big day, we work with a great deal of flexibility to take into consideration these very unique times.
What is the current situation in Spain, can you get married?
Like I’ve already said, the majority of Spain is in what is known as ‘Level 2 Alert’, which means that all bars, restaurants and shops are open until late at night.
The definition of the alert level is defined by the rate of cases per 100,000 population, if the value is between 50 and 150, as defined by the Spanish Ministry of Health, the municipality in question is at level 2.
Of course, the aim is to get to 25 per 100,000 would be deemed ‘the new normal’ Level 1.
At Alert Level 2, which is where we are right now, religious events and civil ceremonies are permitted up to 50% capacity and banquets can have 100 people indoors and 150 outdoors.
So yes, weddings can and are taking place in Spain right now.
*How about travel, is it possible to enter Spain from abroad?
Travel out of the US is expected to begin from July 4th and March 31st for British nationals.
However, non essential travel for anyone in the UK is not allowed until May 17th and we await the travel guidelines set for April 12th.
On another positive note, Spain has also announced its intentions to create a ‘green corridor’ to welcome vaccinated British tourists to its shores in time for this summer and that an EU Covid-19 travel passport will be ready ‘within weeks’.
With all these positive announcements and the rate at which new coronavirus infections are falling in Spain, I would say that we have a lot to look forward to and I’m excited to be organising weddings again, and expectant to see what this season brings.
That said, the most important aspect for us, to which we give utmost importance, is understanding the preference for each and every bridal couple and what works best for them.
We understand that perhaps some bridal couples have chosen to move their weddings, but Spain is still a great destination to come and enjoy a holiday and a catch up, and we are always here to meet up for a coffee (or something stronger as I’m sure many of our couples will no doubt prefer).
*Since our chat with Scott on Sunday, some of the restrictions in regards to travel have changed and we will do our best to keep our bridal couples informed on a regular basis.
According to UK law, the new travel ban entitled the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps) (England) Regulations 2021, comes into force on March 29 BUT does not apply to those getting married or to attend the wedding of a close relative (see page 71, point 10).