Catholic Weddings in Italy
Catholic wedding ceremonies are legally recognized in Italy. The only other legal option for a wedding in Italy is a civil ceremony performed at the City Hall. The Vatican and Rome, the seats of Catholicism worldwide, are a strong attraction for many Catholics when considering marriage. There are hundreds of churches in Rome alone and most celebrate weddings.
There are three Irish churches for example: St. Patrick's Church (of the Augustine Order), San Silvestro Church in Capite (Pallotinne Order) and San Clementine (Dominican Order), which perform hundreds of ceremonies a year for visiting Irish and English nationals.
The Church of Santa Susanna is the American Catholic Church in Rome. The priests Father Greg and Father Jerry perform many ceremonies there for English speaking couples, as well as in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. They are very well organized and plenty of useful information is available on their website. However, be aware the church has been under renovation since mid 2013 and weddings booked in Santa Susanna are held, by the Paulists of Santa Susanna, in the Church of San Camillo de Lellis, another beautiful jewel of Catholic Rome.
Requirements vary from one diocese to another and must be verified in each individual case. Most will celebrate weddings even when one of the spouses is not Catholic.
Catholic priests, however, will not perform ceremonies outside of the church itself. This means no gardens, no villas (unless the villa has its own consacrated chapel), no hilltops, etc. The churches in Italy are usually very beautiful and historical and are wonderful locations for weddings.
It is also possible to marry at the Vatican in St. Peter's Basilica. Most people are surprised to hear this. There is a side chapel in the main church where wedding ceremonies are performed. There are many restrictions, however, to be considered. The bride and groom to be cannot have been married before, nor can they have children, either from their or prior unions. Both must have been baptized, had received their first holy communion and have been confirmed.
Most churches charge a fee to cover for the preparation of the paperwork and organization of the ceremony. They also usually provide an organist, unless you have someone in mind to play on your special day. There is a lot of paperwork and preparation required for them and they request a contribution for their church accordingly. It is also customary to tip the priest performing the ceremony as none of the church contribution goes to him personally.
By Brenda Babcock