Legal Guide to Planning a Wedding in Italy
Find out everything you need to know in our Legal Guide to Planning a Wedding in Italy – from legalities to logistics, & more! Do it – get married in Italy!
Italy is a vibrant country with a diverse variety of regions, an unrivalled historic and artistic heritage, and a truly unique cuisine. There are so many reasons why couples from around the world dream of getting married here.
Us at MakeLoveInItaly through this Legal Planning Guide to a Wedding in Italy want to help these couples make their dreams a reality.
We want to make your dream a reality.
However, while everyone is welcome to get married in Italy – wherever they’re from – there are quite a few legal requirements they must meet.
This legal planning guide to a Wedding in Italy aims to prepare you for the Wedding in Italy you have always dreamed of, by showing you at the same time all the formalities you’ll need to go through.
All resource contained in this Guide to Panning a Wedding in Italy will help you with the following tips and aspects related to getting married in Italy:
- Getting married in Italy – the legal requirements
- The documents you need to get married in Italy
- Ensuring all of your documents haven’t expired
- Don’t forget to keep your passport up to date
- Catholic marriage
- Jewish marriage
- Protestant marriage
- Symbolic ceremonies
- Same-sex civil union
Legal Guide to Planning a Wedding in Italy
First Step: Don’t Stress!
Planning any wedding – even in your home country – can seem like an overwhelming task, but it needn’t be! If you take your time and stay calm, it can be an enjoyable experience.
You’re going to get married in Italy; that’s amazing! Just relax and follow our guide and you’ll be totally fine! Take a deep breath and remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and no wedding was ever planned in a day.
Just follow each step as it is explained in this Legal Planning Guide to a Wedding in Italy. If you have any questions about the information below, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us
Second Step: Getting Married in Italy – The Legal Requirements / Limitations
First of all, know that Everyone over the age of 18 is allowed to get married or have a civil union in Italy, regardless of sex, ideology, belief, and place of residence. If the couple is younger than 18, parental authorisation is required.
Once you have chosen a region in Italy where you’d like to get married and decided which kind of ceremony you’d like, you will need to gather together all the required documentation.
Civil documents are mandatory for all kinds of ceremonies, but they are especially stringent with regards to catholic, protestant, civil, and symbolic ceremonies.
Therefore, the first step on the road to your Italian wedding (other than reading this guide) is to get in touch with the authorities in your country (or your country’s embassy in Italy).
They will oversee marriage documents.
Disclaimer: We can’t list all of these authorities here as this would involve listing embassies and consular offices from every country in the world within Italy.
We do advise that you get in touch with your country’s specific embassy in Italy, should you need any specific guidance with your own country’s documents and legal requirements.
Third Step Legal Guide to Planning a Wedding in Italy: the documents
As we said above, your main resource at this phase is the embassy or consular office of your home country in Italy.
Many countries have the same rules and laws, but there are a few exceptions, so it’s always a good idea to check which documents you need and the expiry date of every report.
It’s also a great idea to ask them for some assistance with the documents as you may need them to sign or verify a few things (such as the Atto Notorio).
Law can change suddenly, so it always helps to check the most up-to-date laws and policies. Don’t let this overwhelm you; just keep reading and make a list of first steps to make.
General set of required documents
- Up-to-date, valid passports or national ID cards for both parties
- Original birth certificates for both parties
- Death certificate of your partner if you have been previously married, or a divorce certificate if you have been divorced
- Don’t forget to update your travel documents
- A family status declaration, if applicable (your parents’ names and other relevant details)
- Nulla Osta or ‘Dichiarazione Giurata’ (or sometimes called an affidavit). It is a document released by your embassy of consular office in Italy attesting that there’s no legal impediment to your marriage in your home country
- An ‘Atto Notorio’ signed by two witnesses, as a further confirmation of what is stated in the Nulla Osta
- A marriage intent declaration during which an official translator has to attend if the mayor doesn’t speak your language
All of the documents and applications listed above have a cost of approximately 10 to 30 euros each. You also need to account for a translation services fee for the wedding.
Fourth Step: Check your documents’ expiry date
When planning your wedding in Italy, make sure you do not apply for any document before 6 months ahead of your wedding date as all official documents released in Italy or validated in Italy expire after 6 months!
Hence it’s essential that you apply for documents in Italy within the 6-month period before your wedding date.
Moreover check out the expiry date of each paper released in your home country or from the Italian consulate. After making this preliminary check, you can choose a wedding date.
Make sure to choose a date at least one year in advance. The earlier you book a date, the higher chances are that you can find a venue and annexed facilities for your guests available.
Fifth Step Legal Guide to a Wedding in Italy: don’t forget to keep your passport up to date!
Check that your passport, visas, and any other travel documents are up to date.
With all of the excitement involved with planning the wedding, it’s so easy to forget to renew your passport and other documents. Without the right travel documents, you simply won’t be able to get to Italy.
It might seem like a silly mistake to make, but we’re all human. Make sure your passport and other documents are completely up-to-date and you’ll have nothing to worry about!
Catholic Marriage – How it works
For a detailed explanation about all the required steps and paperwork to submit read our guide on How to plan your Catholic Wedding in Italy from abroad.
Note that all of the documents mentioned above are required for civil and catholic marriage. Marrying in a Catholic church implies an additional collection of documents:
- Baptism certificate
- Confirmation certificates
- Letter of no impediment to marry
- Attendance certificate to a marriage course
- Local bishop’s permission to marry abroad
Do you want to get married in a catholic church? after submitting all the required religious and civil documents to your bishop, wait for a formal consent from your parish priest attesting that you are eligible to marry in Italy.
In the event that both of you are foreigners, the consent of your local priest, along with a special permit (NULLA OSTA), should be sent to the priest designated to marry you in Italy.
The NULLA OSTA is meant to attest that there is no impediment to marriage, in other words, you are allowed to get married outside of your home country.
For more details about this procedure, consult your own parish priest directly. As stated above, some rules may have changed since we published this resource.
MN Studio, Canva
Concerning mixed-Catholic ceremonies (a Catholic party with a non-Catholic party), submission of the procedure might slightly differ.
Ask your local priest for specific advice on this matter. In any case you need an official consent by the Roman Catholic Church and marrying couples have to follow a number of formal s procedures.
Unlike all other kinds of ceremonies, Catholic marriage has civil effects. In other words, before or after your wedding ceremony couples don’t have to make any additional steps.
Put more succinctly: once the Catholic rite is ended, spouses are expected to sign their legal marriage certificate inside the church, the mayor of the municipality where the church belongs to normally recognises this certificate.
To be on the safe side, after the ceremony, ask if the mayor should sign and approve the certificate.
Allegedly, you should also register your new civil status at your municipality in your home country. Also, in this regard, you ought to consult your municipality (just in case). Just give them a heads up about what you’re doing.
Disclaimer: Based on the Catholic marriage indissolubility principle, people who have formerly married in the Catholic church are not allowed to join in another Catholic marriage. The only condition to bypass this law is obtaining an official permit by the Vatican courthouse.
The permit is known as ”Sacra Rota” (but this is another long and rather complicated story).
Jewish Marriage, how it works
Jewish Marriage in a garden, Buccina Studio, Canva
Contrary to most people’s expectations, there are, in fact, a substantial number of synagogues in Italy. All of the synagogues are 100% Orthodox and carry out Jewish wedding ceremonies.
The main requirement for a Jewish marriage is exactly what you might expect: both the spouses must be Jewish.
If you want a Jewish ceremony, you and your spouse should introduce yourselves to a local rabbi. You’ll have to deliver to him a declaration form released by another orthodox rabbi (from your home country) attesting that both of you are Jewish and eligible to marry.
Put simply: talk to your local rabbi and get in touch with the corresponding Italian Rabbi, wherever you have chosen to marry.
In case of divorce, an additional document attesting that you are free to marry is also required.
Throughout the centuries, Judaism has become largely recognised by the Italian government. As a consequence, under certain conditions, the government recognises and designates civil effect to Jewish wedding ceremonies.
For a ceremony to have civil effect, the officiant has to be an Italian citizen and/or be authorised to run the ceremony directly by the UCEI (the Italian Federation of the 21 Jewish communities).
If you don’t have any personal referral within the Jewish community in Italy, try to contact the UCEI.
UCEI is the Italian Federation of the 21 Jewish communities and ask them for more specific advice
Protestant Marriage – How it works
No wonder that the presence of the Protestant church community in Italy is pretty marginal compared with the Catholic community.
Just as with the civil ceremony, since protestant ceremonies have no civil effects, you will have to prove that you can be civilly married before entering into a protestant marriage. As a result, the mandatory documents to submit are the same as for any other civil ceremony.
If you want to go for a protestant ceremony in Italy, seek more information on the Evangelic Churches Federation in Italy.
Symbolic Ceremonies – How it works
Symbolic wedding ceremony – Asphotowed, Canva
Symbolic ceremonies have no legal effects, but they are a wonderful way to enjoy a wedding ceremony in Italy.
These kinds of ceremonies have no civil effects, implying that you have married earlier in your home country.
They are officiated by a so-called lay celebrant or officiant trained for leading and tailoring the ceremony to meet the wishes of couples.
For this kind of ceremony, an official translation is not mandatory, but it’s certainly recommended.
A great idea (and often necessary) would be to recruit someone who can translate the officiant’s speech if she/he cannot speak your language.
Typically, for this purpose, officiants can refer to one or more trusted interpreters.
Unlike the cost of a civil wedding, the cost of engaging a celebrant is not too high – usually around 400 euros. If you don’t have any personal referrals, try to look for one on this website.
Many couples make the choice of hiring a celebrant to bypass the long and intricate formal path required if you want that your ceremony has civil effects.
Same-Sex Civil Union – How it works
Same-sex couple marriage, Lifsax, Canva
While same-sex marriage is not yet legal in Italy, since the 21st of July 2016, gay couples have been permitted to enter into a civil union.
The law in this regard doesn’t grant the same full set of rights that heterosexual couples can benefit from. Therefore, once you are back in your country, your union might not be valid due to your country’s incompatible legislative system concerning gay marriage.
We recommend you that you ask for a specific advice on this topic to your local authorities, before taking any steps forwards.
Possibly you can marry in Italy, and then convert this union into a marriage once you are in your home country. It totally depends on the laws of your home country.
List of Embassies and Consular Offices
Ultimately, the laws and requirements can always change. Thus, while we will endeavor to ensure that this resource is always up to date, we want to make sure we are pointing readers to the correct primary resources.
Below, is a of embassies and consular offices in Italy that most often deal with dossiers of foreign couples applying for a wedding ceremony in Italy.
It’s worth saying that we have selected the authorities of the countries from where most couples marrying in Italy come from. These authorities are officially designated to release accurate information on getting married in Italy.
Requirements for US citizens getting married in Italy:
Looking for additional tips on how to best plan your Big Day in Italy?
Check out our:
Filled with precious advice on:
- How to set a budget
- Choose a region in Italy
- Picking the best wedding date
- How to plan your ceremony at best
- Select a good-for-money venue
- Tap budget-friendly food services
And Now…Honeymoon Time!
Don’t forget to check out our selection of amazing regions in Italy for an Unforgettable Honeymoon!
Sicily is an amazing land that will seduce you from the first instant you’ll set foot on its soil!
Credit to Photographers
Wedding Planning Guide Photo: IVASHStudio, Shutterstock