Francisco and I were super excited about the temporary position my company offered me in USA (2-3 years). But, for him to get the VISA it meant we would have to get married and let’s say it wasn’t in our plans but we both didn’t mind doing it either.
We both agreed to do something simple, but we never imagined that getting married in Madrid was so complicated, especially if you don’t want (or can’t) to do it in a church. So, I started searching online because I was sure there was an easier option to get married, kind of Europe’s Vegas. And there was: Gibraltar and Copenhagen.
I quickly discard Copenhagen’s option because I read is expensive, and also because I quickly find Hour Wedding website to organize our getting in Gibraltar.
BTW, John Lennon and Yoko Ono got married in Gibraltar too…just another reason to choose this place!
What did we need?
- Birth certificate in English. If you are Spaniard, you can get a plurilingual birth certificate online or in my case, I went personally to Calle Pradillo 66 in Madrid, where I got it in less than 5 minutes and with the Apostille stamp. Francisco also requested it in Portugal, and it was super easy to get it
- Passport or DNI
In my case, since I’m divorced, I also had to show my divorced certificate in English. I had it in Spanish, but the lovely guys from HourWedding arranged everything for the translation of it, in Gibraltar, per £75.
That was it! I couldn’t believe it after all the paperwork and time they were asking in Madrid (especially because Francisco is Portuguese, and I’m divorced).
Besides the paperwork, you will also need to:
- Be in Gibraltar 1 working day before the wedding ceremony
- Sleep 1 night in Gibraltar and request “prove of stay” in the hotel. Don’t worry, this is easy, the hotels are used to it and just print the prove for you in a minute. We stayed at The Rocky Hotel
- Have 2 witnesses. We didn’t have any, so we paid £35 for each witness, which were the guys from HourWedding that also took all the pictures and recorded the ceremony with our phones
In terms of price, we paid £489 (around €575) to HourWedding for all the help and organization.
How much time did we need to plan the wedding?
Like I said, we wanted something simple that ended up transforming in just the two of us signing the papers because our moms and friends couldn’t make it since it was all last minute (it was ok, we then celebrated it with all of them in Madrid and in Venezuela). To have an idea of the time we needed, I started contacting HourWedding on September 17th, 2018 and we got married on October 8th, 2018. Less than 1 month to plan the ceremony, and we received the certificate by mail, and with the Apostille stamp, on October 25th, 2018.
From Madrid to Gibraltar
The official Visit Gibraltar website has all the info with lots of details. But in my opinion, the easiest and convenient way to go to Gibraltar is driving. It takes 6-7 hours and passing the border is not complicated as long as you have your passport/DNI.
In our case, we had classes until late that Thursday and we don’t like driving at night hours. Also, we needed to be in Gibraltar on Friday morning (one working day before our wedding that was on Monday). That’s why we decided to take the bus to the closest town to Gibraltar: La Linea, which is known for drug smuggling among others, and then walk from there to our hotel in Gibraltar (walking across the border).
There are no flights from Madrid to Gibraltar, unless you go first to London or Morocco.
The train might be another good option, but consider that it goes from Madrid to Algeciras (still Spain), then you need to take a bus (3€) or taxi (25€) from Algeciras to La Linea (taxis don’t use the meter on this run, and aren’t normally allowed to cross the border into Gibraltar).
Both taxis and buses leave you very close to the border with Gibraltar, so it’s just a matter of walking through the passport control in Spain and then UK. From there to the center of Gibraltar, is about 15 minutes walking, but if you arrive at normal hours, there will be lots of taxis offering their service (they accept euros and pounds, cash only).
In our case, we couldn’t take the train because they only leave during the day and we needed to travel by night. But like I said, I think the best option is to drive there.
Day 1: Thursday
We took the bus from Mendez Alvaro station (Madrid) to La Linea de la Concepcion (AKA La Linea) at 9:00pm. We bought the tickets a couple of days before through: https://www.interbus.es/
The trip is not comfortable at all, but it was the only option we had due to having to travel at night.
Day 2: Friday
We arrived in La Linea at 5:00am, very close to the border with Gibraltar (less than 10min walking). We saw 2 police officers running between cars to catch somebody and we just felt like our marriage was already going to be a nice story to tell our kids.
Because it was so early when we passed the control borders, there were no taxis available, so we had to walk from the border to our hotel, around 30min on a nice hill.
While entering in Gibraltar, you cross the airport’s runway because unlike any other commercial airport in the world, the runway at Gibraltar is bisected by a highway,a bikeway and a walkwat paralell to the Spanish border. Of course, the traffic on the road is closed during every takeoff and landing on the runway.
As expected, our room wasn’t ready in the hotel until 2:00pm. So, we slept on the lobby couches because we were exhausted, until their breakfast was open.
At 8:30am we walked to HourWedding office to revise all the paperwork with them and to go to the registry and to the notary with them.
Beside the paperwork, walking in downtown and having fish and chips for lunch (to celebrate that we are in British territory), we just slept until next day.
Day 3: Saturday
After having breakfast in our hotel, we took a taxi to the border (9.5€, only cash in either € or £). Once in Spain, we rented a car with Europcar for 1 day and headed the road to Ronda.
The road has lots of curves and bikes, but it’s beautiful.
In Ronda, we left the car in Plaza del Socorro Square parking and went to eat at Puerta Grande restaurant: Salad and Gazpacho, both delicious.
In Ronda we visited:
The baroque church of Nuestra Señora del Socorro next to the Hercules fountain.
Mirador del Aldehuela
Casa Don Bosco (2€)
Mirador del Puente Nuevo (it has a steep hill).
We then took the car to Cueva del Gato (Beautiful, but I can’t find my pictures of it) and finish the day in Marbella, having dinner in a nice Indian restaurant close to the beach.
On our way back, we didn’t have any problem crossing the border by car, they didn’t even saw our DNI. It was also easy to park in front of the hotel (and free).
Day 4: Sunday
We returned our car in La Linea and tried to have breakfast there, but it was a complicated mission.
Our idea this day was to visit Gibraltar, so we started by going to the cable car, but once in there we realized that it was cheaper to take a group minivan (30£ per person) than to take the cable car for 25£ each to then have to walk down since the cable car is only one way. We missed some of the views from the cable car, but we also have the nice views from the top of the rock. Nevertheless, it was all very crowded.
Another option is to climb the mediterranean steps, which are a long set of stairs carved out of the cliffs. But you need to be in good condition to do this, and also consider the weather.
We stopped first at St. Michael’s Cave that has wonderful stalagmites, but the lights and the music made us feel in Disney. The minivan waited for us outside.
We got back to the minivan and our next stop was a photographic spot to see Gibraltar’s monkeys, with some traffic included in the narrow street. These macaque monkeys are the only monkeys in Europe and you can’t see them in any zoo. They arevery used to humans and they look for any opportunity to try to find some food.
You can also see Africa from the Rock.
We finished the trip at the Great Siege Tunnels: a series of tunnels dug out from a solid limestone by the British during the Great Siege of Gibraltar, when France and Spain tried to capture Gibraltar from the British late on the 18th century. There are also other tunnels built during World War II.
From there we walked towards downtown until we found a decent place to have a salad and a burger for lunch. We then took a taxi to Catalan Bay to enjoy the nice weather by the beach.
To go back to downtown around 4:30pm, the guys from the bar by the beach called a taxi for us. We then walked a little and found nice outfits to wear for our wedding (I just love how relaxed our wedding was).
Day 5: Monday (Wedding day)
We woke up late and prepared ourselves in the hotel for our wedding at 12:00pm.
The wedding was officiated at the civil registry, with the queen portrait in front of us, by a nice British guy that also spoke a perfect Spanish with a southern accent. It was weird and also cute for us because we aren’t used to either hear Spaniards speaking a very good English or English speakers speaking with a perfect Spanish accent.
The wedding last around 20 minutes. The guy asked us to repeat some vows after him and signed the papers. Very simple but also sweet.
We had the tickets to go back by bus at night, but we cancelled those tickets (got some money back) and decided to rent a car in La Linea to go back to Madrid because we have to work tomorrow. Yes! Work!
We only did our honeymoon in December when we went to Venezuela, including the magnificent Angel’s Falls.
Our wedding meal was in Estepona, on our way back to Madrid.
|Bus Madrid-Gibraltar||53 €|
|Car Rental||176 €|
Conclusion of Our Wedding
My first wedding had more than 200 guests, I spent months organizing it, I wore a white dress and spent lots of money of it. I had fun during the wedding but the time went really fast during that day. Also, the organization of it brough some stress for me and my family.
My second wedding (and hopefully the last one) was very peaceful and meaningful for the two of us. It was like an adventure and we love to tell the story of it to everybody. We found it very funny, together with the fact that we met on Tinder.
It’s probably not fair to say that this type of wedding is for everyone, but if you are planning yours and thinking about something simple, I think this is an excellent plan, or at least it was for us, and definitely contact the guys from HourWedding to do so (this is not sponsored).
We were so lucky that when we returned to Madrid, our friends had a surprise wedding party for us. They are just incredible. Thank you guys for helping us having a blast in our wedding.