Lights reflecting off of Lake Como at dusk. Gondoliers sernading couples in Venice. Walking hand-in-hand along winding Sorrento streets. Kissing atop the Spanish Steps. Lazy days spent on pristine Sardinian beaches. What could be more romantic than Italy? Is a more perfect way to proclaim your love to the world than by saying your "I dos" in the most magical country in the world?
These days destination weddings are all the rage. Couples determined to keep guests lists short, costs down, and the work minimal are all turing to destination weddings as a viable alternative to more traditional at-home weddings. If you have decided on a destination wedding yourself stop for a moment to consider Italy as an option. If you have already decided that Italy is for you then read on to ensure you have everything you need to made it legal in Italia.
Getting Married in Italy
Italy, with its rich history and beautiful architecture, offers up a limitless supply of wedding location options. Couples can get married in a church, villa, an old castle, in a typical traditional mansion or on the beach if they prefer. Those looking to go the destination route will also be happy to know that its easier to get married in Italy than most other European countries. The legal documents required are very basic and couples can get married in a short time without any delays to worry about.
Deciding on a Wedding Ceremony
If you've decided on Italy as the spot where you'll marry you next have to decide what kind of ceremony you prefer. Couples have an array of options to choose from, ranging from Catholic and Protestant to Jewish and Civil ceremonies. The papers required depend on the type of ceremony chosen. Legally, Italy only recognizes Catholic and Civil marriages. If having another type of ceremony one would also have to be married civilly to ensure the legality of the union.
Civil Ceremonies in Italy
Civil ceremonies are popular in Italy because they are fast, simple and legal. A City Hall wedding doesn't sound very special to you? Don't forget you'll be in Italy, where most Town Halls are located in ancient palaces richly decorated with paintings and frescoes. In order to be eligible for a civil ceremony a couple would have to present a declaration to the Town Hall of the location where they wish to wed one or two days before the wedding. It is best to do this well in advance to avoid any type of delay and it is important to keep in mind that rules change from region to region. A wedding planner or agency will usually handle this type of paperwork so that the couple would only have to bring their passports to the Town Hall.
If not using a wedding professional the couple would have to prepare all their documents in their country of origin and bring them along with their passports to the Town Hall. The declaration is made by the marriage registrar in Italian, which is then translated by the interpreter in English. Usually a civil ceremony lasts 30 to 45 minutes. Once all documents are verified and the marriage certificate is filled out and signed the wedding is over and the couple is legally wed.
Catholic Ceremonies in Italy
Getting married in a Catholic church in Italy while living elsewhere is a bit more complicated than arranging a civil service. The initiation of the process and the preliminary work would have to be done by the parish of the bride and groom in their home country. The process should be started at least six to eight months prior to the wedding date.
The same documents required to wed in a Catholic church in North America are needed an Italy including baptisms certificates issued within six months of the wedding date, confirmation certificates, and acknowledgement of pre-cana class attendance. If either the bride or groom is not a Catholic an application for a mixed marriage would also have to be submitted. For foreigners a pre-nuptial inquiry is also required.
The bride and groom will also have to obtain the permission of their parish to get married in another church, which needs to be signed by their diocese. These documents are valid six months from the date of issue and must be sent to the wedding location within two months of the wedding date for vetting. A reading of the banns is also required with your local parish.
Some might think that wedding planners are not a necessary expense, which may be so if you are tying the knot in your home town, but if you're getting married in another country a planner can be invaluable. Not only can your planner help with all the necessary paperwork, but they also have contacts in the city where you will be getting married, can do the legwork for you, and also know the rules and regulations to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Shop around for the best rates and for a planner you feel comforable working closely with.
The best ways to make sure you get everything you want on your wedding day with a minimum of stress is to start planning early and to hire a professional familiar with the town to help you through the process.
The most important element of an Italian wedding? Food of course! So how to go about ensuring that your Italian wedding will have the most scrumptious food on the planet? If using a wedding planner they will have several catering options to choose from. If doing the planning yourself the internet is an invaluable research. See what other brides have to say, word of mouth is usually the best way to select a caterer when they are located so far from home. Keep in mind that most catering estimates include the cost of tables, chairs, linen, and cutlery. It is customary not to pay a tip on top of the price as a Vale Added Tax of around 20% is automatically added to the bill.
One Year Before the Wedding
Six Months Before the Wedding
Remember, the best way to keep stress levels low and enjoyment high is to have all your paperwork in order as soon as possible! Don't forget...
- Valid passport of both parties
- Birth certificate of both parties
- Death or divorce certificate, if applicable. These certificates would have to be certified with a Hague certification.
- A declaration for a "no impediment" certification, made six months in advance.
- A Nulla Osta declaration has to be made at the American Consulate for Americans.
- A declaration has to be made at the Civil Registrar's office four to five days before the wedding.
- Banns would have to be posted in the Town Hall for two consecutive Sundays in case either of the parties is an Italian. Once the banns are posted a certificate will be issued.
- In case of a previous marriage, the marriage certificate of the previous marriage would be required.
- Minors would need an authorization certificate from their parents or guardians if they want to get married.
- For a Catholic wedding, a baptism certificate, a confirmation certificate and a certificate for attending the pre-nuptial class is required.
- For a Catholic wedding religious banns would also have to be issued by the parish of the bride and groom. Several documents would also have to be issued by the parish of the bride and groom.
If you dream of having your wedding in an old Roman cathedral or overlooking the ocean in Capri just ensure that you are as organized and proactive as possible so that your day goes off without a hitch. Invest in a wedding planner and make sure all your documents are in order so that you can happily say "I do" in Italy!