how to get married in gibraltar

After deciding to marry in Gibraltar, the obvious question was, "how do we plan a wedding in Gibraltar when we've never even been to Gibraltar?"

I've worked as an event planner and a wedding waitress, but I've never actually planned a wedding.  The first time around I got married in Jamaica on one of those "free wedding if you stay 3 or more nights at our resort" deals.  Basically, I told them what date and time we wanted to be married, and showed up.  Gibraltar is a bit tricker.

We were initially going to use a wedding planner.  At more than twice the price of arranging everything ourselves, Sweet Gibraltar Weddings seemed worth the premium for the peace of mind of having someone local to arrange the date, paperwork, flowers, etc.  That was until I asked to reserve our date and they told me that the price they'd quoted was a "special offer" and that the price had since gone up by £100.  Less than 10 minutes after telling them "nevermind," they replied saying that they'd honor their original quote.  I don't deal with vendors who pull those kinds of shenanigans, so I decided to do it myself! (and I'm glad I did)

The cost of a Registry Office wedding in Gibraltar, including the license, ceremony, notary, and certificates is around £160.  With the visa and residency requirements, we were looking at around £1100 for the same in England.   And this, my friends, is why I abandoned my dreams of a midwinter handfasting to get married in Gibraltar!

This website told me everything I needed to know about the logistics of planning a Gibraltar wedding.  For a Registry Office wedding, you don't need a wedding planner, just a little patience :)

The days and times of Registry Office weddings leave a bit to be desired.  You can only get married on weekdays between 9:00 & 2:00, and most of the days leading up to Christmas and just after New Year's are also off limits. 

For those keeping score at home, that means no midwinter wedding date, and no evening ceremony! I'd hoped to keep at least some our original vision intact, but alas, we'll be married at 1:00 on an insignificant date in late September.

Reserving the date was a very slow, uncertain, and stressful experience.  After emailing our document scans and preferred date/time to the Registrar, I heard nothing for days.  I sent a follow-up email and still nothing.  I called and they said they'd "look into it."  Still nothing.  Nothing for two weeks!  I was beginning to think the Registry Office was in cahoots with the wedding planners and that we wouldn't be getting married in Gibraltar, near Spain after all.  Then one Saturday morning, I got the email I thought would never come and I was happy I hadn't freaked out completely and hired a wedding planner!

The Gibraltar Registry Office has been very pleasant to deal with and I get the sense that they're just very busy.  So if you're planning a Gibraltar wedding and are reaching freak out stage because they haven't confirmed your date, make a Cosmo and chill out.  They'll get back to you :)

With the date finally confirmed, we had to decide on a florist and a photographer.  Wedding planners will try to tell you they have access to the "best" vendors, but Gibraltar is small and there's a limited number of florists, photographers, salons, etc., so DIY brides have the exact same access as the wedding planners have.  Since Gibraltar is a British territory, the local language is English, which really simplifies things. Trip Advisor has been an invaluable resource, there are plenty of people in the Gibraltar forum who have been married in Gibraltar and they're very helpful to aspiring Gibraltar brides.

 Gibral-Flora is doing my bouquet.  I'm still deciding on the specifics but as long as I finalize the order 30 days in advance and they'll be able deliver it to our hotel on the morning of for around £35 inclusive.

With the money we've saved by skipping the wedding planner, we're splurging on our first choice photographer... I knew he was it as soon as I clicked on his portfolio! He's based out of Spain and does both weddings and commercial/glamour photography.  It's just going to be the two of us and my choice of dress is trending more towards designer than bridal, so he'll approach the day as a fashion shoot, not a wedding... no botanical gardens, no bridal poses, nothing lame;  just glamour and romance around the Rock! 

The day before the wedding, we'll need to bring our original documents to the Registry Office, and get something notarized and returned before close of business.  To minimize stress, I'm going to arrange an appointment ahead of time with this notary which is very close to the Registry Office.  At £20 per signature, it's the most expensive in Gibraltar, but you know what they say about location, and we can't be bothered to chase all over town to save 20 quid.

We'll have to leave witnesses until the last minute, but that's part of the adventure!  I'm sure we'll find someone who will love telling the story of how they became our impromptu maid of honor/best man whilst on holiday in Gibraltar ;)

All in all, planning a wedding in a place I've never been to has been remarkably easy, and if it was good enough for John and Yoko, it's good enough for us!  

Now let's talk dresses...

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