The Spanish have a reputation as a romantic people, smouldering with uncontrollable passion. While some Spaniards may fit this profile, the Spanish customs surrounding dating, courtship and marriage actually encourage a couple to take their time and make sure they are right for one another. This may account for the 18 per cent divorce rate in Spain, much lower than that of other Western countries.
Courtship and Dating
Courtship in Spain is a long, drawn-out process. If the woman shows interest too soon, she may scare the man away. A game of refusal and pursuit typically takes place among both parties before a date even occurs. First dates often include drinks, coffee and long conversation, ending around sunup if the date goes well. Spaniards find individualism attractive. A unique, yet fashionable, sense of style will go a long way toward impressing a prospective Spanish mate.
Marriage proposals in Spain happen much the same as they do in other countries, with the man down on one knee asking for the woman's hand. The question "Te quieres casar conmigo?" or "Will you marry me?" will get the job done, if nothing more creative comes to mind. Engaged Spanish couples wear their rings on the third fingers of their right hands. When the engagement ring is exchanged for the wedding ring, or alianza, it is worn on the same finger.
During the wedding ceremony the couple stands at the altar alone, with no bridesmaids or groomsmen in attendance. The traditional lace mantilla, a veil worn over the head and shoulders, has recently come back into fashion among Spanish brides. It is worn over a traje de novia, or wedding gown. While saying their vows the couple exchanges coins, known as arras. Traditionally, these coins symbolised the groom's promise to support the bride for the rest of their lives together, but now the bride and groom give coins to one another to symbolise mutual support.
Spanish wedding ceremonies generally do not start until 7 p.m., in keeping with most other Spanish social events. As a result, wedding receptions go until the wee hours of the morning. The bride and groom make their way from one table to another, handing out small wedding favours called detalles to each guest. The guests, in turn, give money to the new couple. As a common practical joke, the groom's friends cut his tie into pieces and auction the pieces off for good luck.