How to get married in Italy legally: a civil wedding ceremony

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One of the most frequently asked questions I get as a wedding planner is “how can I have a legally binding wedding ceremony performed in Italy yet recognised in my home country?”. There are two possibilities:

  1. A civil ceremony: This is the easier legal ceremony to organise in Italy. The number of spectacular city halls and outdoor locations is certainly a great way to celebrate an unforgettable wedding. From frescoed city halls, rustic stone courtyards to a beautiful outdoor terrace overlooking the mediteranean….there is something for everyone.
  2. A Catholic wedding: Although the process is slightly more complicated, it is considered a full legal marriage recognised by the catholic church all over the world. In this case you are required to obtain both civil and catholic document requirements.

I’ll explain shortly the biggest differences between the two different weddings and what is required, how much it costs and the timing.

CIVIL WEDDING

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  • Must takes place in a town hall or a propriety belonging or rented by a town hall. This means that most of the time it is celebrated indoor, in ancient palaces or in a mediaeval courtyard.  There is the possibility to marry civilly in a few selected locations however it varies from tuscan town. Tuscania Events can assist in the search for locations that allow on site civil ceremonies.
  • The couple must complete the paperwork here in Italy prior to the ceremony. Tuscania Events will assist fully with this.
  • The bureaucratic process can vary according to nationality so it is important to mention both nationalities to be sure the necessary paperwork guidelines are followed. Tuscania Events can assist in the specific document needs and with navigating the cumbersome and often difficult Italian bureaucracy.
  • The couple should be prepared to be in Italy three or four days prior to the ceremony to finalize all the necessary paperwork.
  • The cermony lasts around half a hour and it is performed in Italian and translated in your native language by one of our interpreters. It is pretty straight forward and beautifully written and full of significance. The couple is free to add few readings, music, personal vows and the exchanges of rings.
  • Two witnesses are required: one for the bride and one for the groom. Usually it is two members of the bridal party or the parents. If you don’t have any guest present Tuscania Events will provide the witnesses.
  • Pricing: you will have to pay a rental fee directly to the town hall (with our assistance) that could be from 300€ to 5000€ depending on the Town Hall. For the paperwork expect to pay from 150€ up depending on your nationality.  If you need other services, you will also have to consider additional expense for the musicians, photographers, florist, photographer, etc.
  • We suggest that the process should begin around 6 months before the actual ceremony date.

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CATHOLIC WEDDING

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  • Must take place in a catholic church. Italian churches are usually ancient charming buildings. They can be simple stone chapels even 1000 years old, or frescoed magnificient churches depending on the style you prefer.
  • A Catholic marriage in Italy is not possible if one of you was previously married in a Catholic church and then divorced without a formal annulment from the catholic church.
  • The couple must complete the catholic and civil paperwork here in Italy.
  • Refer to civil ceremony above as the documents required for a civil ceremony are also required for a catholic wedding.
  • About catholic paperwork: it is basically the same for all nationalities. Around two months before the ceremony you will have to present your religious pre cana peperwork to the italian bishop. Tuscania Events will assist you and guide you through this process.
  • We will also provide you a parish that speaks your native language. You’ll have to meet up with the priest a few days before the actual wedding day. So the couple should consider being in Italy at least three to four days  prior to the ceremony.
  • The ceremony lasts around one hour. The wedding will be celebrated during the mass if both spouses are Roman catholic. If one of the two is protestant it is easier if they only celebrate the Rite of marriage without the mass. However this is decided also by the parish. In this case the ceremony will last around 30 min. and must be approved by your own Bishop that must give you permission in writing.
  • The mass is the same all over the world. Tuscania Events will provide you a parish priest that can perform it in your native language. You will have the possibility to add readings and music. Then there will be of course the personal vows and exchange of rings.
  • Four witnesses are required: two for the bride and two for the groom.
  • There is no rental fee for the use of the church but you certainly can not forget to make a donation that can be from 300€ for the church and from 100€ for the priest. You’ll also have to consider the expenses for the paperwork that are from around 150€ depending on your nationality. Then, if you need musicians, photographers, florist, photographer and other vendors, you will also have to consider the possibility of additional costs.
  • We suggest that the process should begin around 6 months before the actual ceremony.

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Whether you decide to have a civil wedding or a catholic wedding in Italy, Tuscania Events is available to guide you through the entire process and turn your dream of an italian wedding into reality. To find out more about the beautiful city halls, the panoramic terraces or the breathtaking churches please contact us at wed@tuscaniaevents.com

Ease of mind comes with an expert!!!

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Marriage of American citizens in Tuscany

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The following information is provided as a general guideline for American Citizens wishing to get married in Italy.

Before arriving in Italy:

  1. Make sure you travel with your valid U.S. passport.
  2. If you were married before, bring evidence of the termination of your previous marriage. Please note that a divorced woman who wants to marry again within 300 days of the date of her divorce must contact the local Italian authorities and seek special permission from an Italian magistrate. Otherwise, she must allow the required period of 300 days to elapse. If you are widowed, you must bring the death certificate of your previous spouse. Certificates can be obtained from the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
  3. Please, bring your Birth certificates – long form (with the names of both parents).
  4. Before leaving USA, we recommend that you obtain an Atto Notorio from the Italian Embassy or Consulate in the state in which you reside.

The Atto Notorio is an oath of the American citizen sworn to in the presence of two witnesses and notarized by an Italian Consul in the U.S, stating that there are no legal impediments to the marriage according to the laws to which the person concerned is subject to in the United States. Please, call the Italian Consulate to request when you need to start this process. Every Consulate has different timing.

Please note: All certificates including divorce certificates or death certificates certifying termination of your previous marriage must be originals. Photocopies are not accepted. Any documents issued outside of Italy must be translated into Italian and authenticated by the nearest Italian Consulate having jurisdiction over the place of issuance in the U.S. before they can have any legal validity before Italian authorities.

Once in Italy (we will assist you):

  1. In addition to the Atto Notorio, an American citizen intending to get married in Italy will need to make a Sworn Declaration (Nulla Osta). This Sworn Declaration must be signed, whether you are single, divorced or widowed, in the presence of an American Consular officer in Italy. A Nulla Osta literally states that “there are no impediments,” or that one is free to marry. The Nulla Osta is valid for six months and costs $50.00 per citizen. This service is now performed at the American embassy in Florence on Tuesdays and Thursday mornings by appointment only.
  2. The Nulla Osta must then be legalised by the Uffico Legalizzazioni of the Prefettura. I’ll take your “Nulla Osta” to the Prefettura for the legalization of the documents. You do not need to come with me for this second part of the paperwork.
  3. If you are unable to obtain an “Atto di notorietà per uso matrimonio” (Atto Notorio) from an Italian Consulate in USA, you may obtain one from the Tribunale Civile in Italy. I will take you there. Two witnesses over 18 years of age and an interpreter need to be present. I’ll be your witness and your interpreter. Another member of Tuscania Events staff can be the other witness, if you need to.
  4. Once we have all this documents, you must appear at list two days before the ceremony with one witness before the Civil Registrar in the city hall you selected and make a declaration of your intention to marry. I will take you there, I will be your witness and your interpreter. We need to bring: Passports, birth certificates, “Atto Notorio” and the “Nulla osta” legalized.

Additional information: 

A marriage is considered valid in Italy if performed under civil or religious auspices. A civil ceremony is performed at the City Hall and a translator must interpret if one of the parties does not understand the Italian language. I can be your interpreter. Also two witnesses must be present at your civil ceremony. Please, let me know the names of your witnesses and send me a photocopy of their passports in the next few months.

If you would like your marriage to be recognized in the U.S., I will take the certificate of marriage to the Prefettura, Ufficio Legalizzazioni (the same office that authenticates the Consul’s signature) of Florence to request the placement of an Apostille on the certificate.

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