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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How much does a wedding in Italy cost?

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One of the most frequently asked questions I get as a wedding planner is “how much does a wedding in Italy cost?”. This is certainly one of the most important things to think about when determining if a wedding in Italy is right for you. You may be pleasantly surprised!

Although I tried my best to be as accurate as possible, these price estimates should be used only as a baseline reference as there are many variables to consider.

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Location/Accommodation

It is very difficult to give an exact idea of what you may spend for accommodation as it all depends on type of accommodation  you choose. Generally the most budget friendly accommodations are self catering villas and the most expensive solutions being a full service luxury hotel. Prices for self catering villas can range from 50 euros per person per night and up and luxury hotels from 150 euros per person per night and up.  However prices for accommodation can greatly fluctuate depending on length of stay, amount of amenities available and location.

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If there is no on site restaurant on location which is the case for the majority of locations expect to pay from 90 – 130 euros per person. Then there is the 10% VAT tax to add. Within this per person price would include the following: an abundant cocktail hour, dinner (2 first courses and 1 second), wine and water, dessert, all tables, chairs, cutlery, glassware, linens, and wait staff (there may be some small increases per person if you have specific chair or plateware requests). Generally open bar is quoted separately. Food costs are lower if the location has an on site restaurant (prices from 75 euros and up). And I forgot to mention the most important part…Italian food is abundant and absolutely amazing!! You definitely get more for your money in Italy.

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Location Rental Fees
Location rental fees are additional fees charged for the use of indoor or outdoor areas for a reception party. Depending on the location you select you may pay zero (sometimes a rental fee is waived if you rent the location exclusively for a given amount of time using all their accommodations) to 5500 euros plus 22% VAT. The wedding rental fee obviously fluctuates depending on level of location (luxury location vs more rustic) and the day of the wedding (weekday celebrations will have a lower rental cost than a saturday for example). Also, additional rental fees may apply if there is an on-site chapel, special courtyard etc. These costs vary widely depending on location.
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Ceremonies
Civil weddings
Whether your civil ceremony is allowed on site or you select one of the many beautiful town halls you can expect to spend anywhere from 300 euros to 5000 euros. Above is a civil ceremony held in one of the Monumental villas in Lucca and below at the town hall of Volterra.
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Church weddings
There is not a fee per se for a catholic wedding but you certainly can not forget to make a donation. I would say a suggested donation should be approximately 100 euros for the priest and  300 euro donation for the church.
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Symbolic weddings
Symbolic weddings can be held in an area of your choice. The costs here could be a rental fee from the location or payment of the celebrant which can be from 250 to 1500 euros depending on several factors. Ministers will charge more than an ‘actor’ celebrant.
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Document Fees
There are some document fees involved to perform a legal wedding which are from 150 euros (but vary according to nationality).
Music
Music costs will depend entirely on what you like….live music vs DJ (DJ being the least expensive). You can expect to spend a minimum of 1000 euros for music to cover the entire day. There is also the obligatory Italian music tax or SIAI that needs to be paid which ranges in price depending on your location, type of music and number of guests but I would safely say a minimum of 250 euros.
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Photographers
Italy is cheaper than the US and possibly other countries and we have some extraordinary photographers on our preferred vendor list. From 1800 euros plus 22% VAT and up depending on hours of service and number of photographers.
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Flowers
 I love flowers and the amount you spend is based entirely on how important flowers are to your event. But I would say a minimum 1000 euros. You can obviously spend less if your group size is small or if it is a simple elopement. In general the costs of flowers I believe is pretty competitive with other countries. Same flower bouquets and using simple arrangements or planted flowers vs cut are a great way to cut back on overall floral costs.
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Printing
I can not give an accurate estimation on printing costs but in my experience printing costs tend to be cheaper in other countries so when possible you may want to think of printing as many things from home. Menu printing is often done by the caterer chosen and is sometimes included or priced separately.
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Favors
The cost for wedding guest gifts or favours all depends on what you select: a small bottle or oil, wine, watercolor painting,  something ceramic, etc. One of the great advantages here is that there are many Italian artisans to choose from. Pricing from 5 euros and up depending on gift choice.
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Hair & Make-up
In Italy it is less expensive to get your hair & make-up done in a salon vs an on site service. Salon rates are from 250 euros and up (Bridal hair & make up trial and on wedding day). On location from 400 euros (Bridal hair & make-up trial and on wedding day ).
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Additional Vendor Costs
Transportation
Transportation is too difficult to quote without my specific information as it all depends on guest number, type of vehicle etc. For a specific quote you can email us at wed@tuscaniaevents.com
Additional Rentals
Depending on the location you choose and environment you want to create there could be additional furniture rentals. For example, a very cool after dinner bar and dance area with couches etc. This is not a certain cost but only a potential cost depending on the venue and your preferences.
Wedding Planner
A wedding planner is never more important than when planning a destination wedding. Our knowledge of the local language, our assistance with necessary documents to perform a legal Italian wedding and our knowledge of high quality vendors of all budget levels are truly indispensable to ensure your experience is stress free. Since planner fees vary according to size of wedding, type of ceremony etc. it is best to email us directly for a free quote.
Again, this list should be used as an overall reference as there will be many variables that will affect the overall cost. In order to get a better idea of your potential wedding costs, feel free to e-mail us at wed@tuscaniaevents.com with your projected wedding date, number of guests and overall inspiration.
I would like to thank Jules for his wonderful photography and Tuscania Events couple Gaia & Marco for choosing us!
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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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