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Hi again! Another FAQ time for our listeners! One of the most commonly asked questions is: What are the different types of wedding ceremonies in Italy?
There are 3 basic ceremony types in Italy: symbolic, civil, and religious.
Note: Just because Italy accommodates these three wedding types, doesn’t mean that other countries do. For example, in Spain, you can’t have a legal ceremony unless you’re a resident. This is not a problem in Italy.
Ok, the first type of wedding ceremony that is really the easiest to have is a symbolic wedding.
What is a symbolic wedding?
A symbolic ceremony is the promise of love between two people. Couples will include all the wedding traditions, including the exchange of vows and exchange of rings. The only difference is that it is not legally binding.
So if it’s not legally binding, why have a symbolic ceremony?
Symbolic ceremonies are the easiest wedding ceremonies to have.
In order to have your wedding considered legal by your home country, you need to have a legal wedding either before or after your symbolic ceremony.
How can you do this? It’s quite easy. In the United States, make an appointment with your county courthouse and have a quick wedding. How extravagant you have your legal ceremony is entirely up to you. Sometimes our clients invite their close friends and family who may not be able to attend the wedding in Italy to their legal ceremony.
Do what works for you.
Don’t fret. Just because you’re having a symbolic ceremony doesn’t mean that it won’t be a big deal — it will be a big deal. We’ll make it a big deal.
So the second type of wedding ceremony is a civil ceremony. The civil ceremony is the most popular with local Italians — which is performed by the Italian town’s local mayor or one of the deputies — in the town hall. In addition to the mayor, couples will need to have two witnesses and, if necessary, an interpreter must be present at the ceremony. Witnesses may be of any nationality, but must be over 18 and possess valid photo identification. In case you were wondering, a witness cannot serve as the interpreter.
Just because you’re getting married in the town hall doesn’t mean it will be a drab wedding. In fact, most Italian town halls are historic buildings with lots of history. One to two days prior to the wedding, the couple must complete a declaration. Sometimes this declaration can occur day of the wedding, but I wouldn’t count on it.
What is this day of the declaration exactly?
Depending on the couple’s nationality, you may have to bring valid passports and paperwork proving that 1) you are who you say you are (bring your passports); 2) you can legally get married (i.e. no polygamy, you are legally divorced before re-marrying or you are not related to one another); and 3) you are of sound mind and body before getting married.
Once this step is over, then you can have your civil ceremony at the town hall. Since the civil ceremony tends to be shorter, you can get a solo musician or live music — such as a violinist, cellist, or singer. Congratulations! You just got married!!!
Ok, so let’s get to religious ceremonies. You can have a religious ceremony in Italy and the most common religious ceremonies are Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Hindu.
In order to have one of these religious ceremonies, the town or city you want to marry in has to have a religious institution of the same faith. So if you want to get married in Florence at a Protestant Church, then Florence has to have a Protestant church.
If you want to get married in a Roman Catholic church, at least one of you has to be baptized Roman Catholic prior to the wedding and you will have to file the proper paperwork with your Catholic diocese back home.
If you are a Protestant, then you need to contact a Protestant Pastor or Minister who will perform your wedding in Italy. This means you need to prepare this before you desire to get married in Italy.
And if you are Jewish, you need to also work with a rabbi and a local synagogue. Typically, Reform Jewish weddings can take place in other venues, but they won’t be legally recognized. If you want to have an Orthodox Jewish wedding, there are plenty of synagogues in Italy. You need to get permission from a local rabbi. All of the synagogues in Italy are Orthodox, so you would need to receive permission from an Orthodox rabbi from home to marry in one of the Italian synagogues.
What about Hindu weddings?
Would it surprise you to know that Italy does have Hindu temples? Yes, they are located in the major cities — so we can help Hindu couples get married in these temples, or if you would rather, you can incorporate Hindu traditions into your ceremony.
Whatever your religious faith, we can incorporate your traditions regardless of the type of wedding ceremony. Let us help you.
If so, check out our other episodes and read our blog posts on getting married in Italy.
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