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Emilio and Remedios pose in the cave holding hands. Ramón L.Pérez
Golden wedding anniversay

Video: First couple in Spain to get married in a cave set to renew their vows in the same place, 50 years on

Speleologists Remedios Pérez and Emilio Gutiérrez will hold the underground ceremony in the Cueva del Agua in Andalucía's magical Sierra Arana

Pilar García-Trevijano

Granada

Monday, 25 March 2024, 18:29

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Love can make people do crazy things and sometimes these lead to sharing a passion and life together. Sierra Arana in Granada province is a unique, magical enclave, a paradise on earth. The beauty of the mountain is inestimable, but even so, few would think of getting married deep inside it. Speleologists Remedios Pérez and Emilio Gutiérrez are made of different stuff. They were the first couple in Spain to say "I do" underground, in the Cueva del Agua in Iznalloz.

On 7 April 1974, the couple from Granada managed to exchange rings at a depth of 150 metres. Fifty years later they are going to renew their vows and celebrate their golden wedding anniversary in the same place at 1,750 metres above sea level.

Their unusual choice of wedding venue took up several pages of SUR's sister newspaper Ideal at the time and the ceremony was aired on Televisión Española in front of an astonished audience who followed their honeymoon and the first stages of their marriage.

The cave has changed. The steep entrance to the main chamber no longer exists. Now its nooks and crannies can be reached via walkways. The years have changed Remedios and Emilio too. They have just turned 79 and have four daughters and eight grandchildren. However, their love for each other and for the place they got married remains intact.

They wanted a small, private wedding but ended up being watched by a thousand curious onlookers who came "in pilgrimage" from the surrounding villages to watch the couple take their vows. They walked through the shadows and groped their way up to the Sima de los Dientes del Dragón.

Remedios wore a wedding dress that she made herself, as she will do for this occasion. The dress went from immaculate white to almost mournful black as she navigated the stalagmites, but the couple were (and are) immensely happy.

The bravest priest they could find agreed to marry them there. Some had refused on the grounds that the cave wasn't a religious place. But for the couple, God can be found anywhere and with that in mind, the brave priest left his vicarage and walked the narrow spaces of the cavern to unite the couple in holy matrimony. This time, Remedios and Emilio have not bothered about the organisation. Instead their daughters Eva, Pilar, Guadalupe and Raquel have taken the reins.

Imagen principal - Video: First couple in Spain to get married in a cave set to renew their vows in the same place, 50 years on
Imagen secundaria 1 - Video: First couple in Spain to get married in a cave set to renew their vows in the same place, 50 years on
Imagen secundaria 2 - Video: First couple in Spain to get married in a cave set to renew their vows in the same place, 50 years on

It was Remedios who literally moved heaven and earth to get married in a cave. "It was a lightbulb moment. I was the one who said that if I got married it would be in a cave. We insisted and insisted and managed to get them to let us use the Cueva del Agua. Fifty years later we want to use it again," Remedios says. "My girls and I set to work to do it again. As we are still alive, thank God, and we are well, we will be able to do it," she adds.

Pioneer

Remedios and Emilio started going out together when they were 14, but they really got to know each other through their shared passion of caving. In fact, Remedios was one of the pioneers in the country to do this sport.

With the caving group they belonged to the couple have participated in rescues and visited caves all over the world. In 60 years they have travelled nearly 100 kilometres underground Emilio says. They have spent New Year's Eve and "days without seeing each other" inside the same cave. They have even continued their journeys with broken bones but say that they hung up their caving equipment some time ago.

None of their daughters have inherited the hobby and for remedios and Emilio there are different adventures and passions now including watching their grandchildren grow up.

The couple say that the key to a long-lasting relationship is "knowing how to get along and understanding each other". They add, "We each put up with each others' quirks. If I like something, I do it and so does she. We each have our own space, then other spaces are shared, and that's how it's been for 50 years", the couple say. The only crises the marriage has gone through have been "economic" ones, they add.

The golden wedding and renewing of the vows will take place on 7 April in the central gallery of the 180-metre cave. The last time they said "I do" was at a depth of less than 180 metres. This time it will be a little higher for safety reasons.

Mayor of Iznalloz Carlos Romero and tourism councillor Javier Pulido said that the town is proud to celebrate the golden wedding. "From the moment we received the news when the family got in touch, we thought it was a very good idea, a showcase for the cave and the charms of our town. We are very pleased to participate in this wedding," they said.

The councillor added that it will be an honour for him to officiate the ceremony. "The first and the most special," he said. The town hall hopes that the cave will soon be open to visitors, having been closed for several decades.

Special device

The town hall has put into place safety measures to ensure that all goes to plan safely. This time, although not entirely away from the media spotlight, Remedios and Emilio will enjoy the day with their family without the television cameras rolling.

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