How to Marry an Italian: A Civil Ceremony

June 15, 2017

How to Marry an Italian

Hey all! I know it’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post but I’ve been a bit preoccupied with moving to Italy and marrying the love of my life. Now, things are slowly beginning to normalize, and I am finally getting back to having adventures and sharing them here with you!

Moving to Italy and getting married has been one hell of an adventure and it took some time for us to figure out the whole process. So if you’re interested in marrying Italian here is a simplified explanation how to have a Civil Union Ceremony.


The Romance Story

So here is my personal story: after college, I took a one-way ticket to Europe zig-zagging from one city to the next, and after three months of traveling, I found him. I was sitting in a cafe/pub when he sat down across from me. We shared an amazing three hours of fine beer and good conversation as the evening turned into late night.

His English wasn’t perfect and my Italian worst but the words weren’t that important. There was a connection, we could laugh, and listen and explain. Becuase of the language barrier we were very direct with each other from the beginning which gave this relationship a new raw form of truth and honesty I had never experienced with anyone before; we were completely transparent and it was lovely.

From that moment onward we taught each other about food, language, culture, history and we ultimately fell in love. I lived in Italy for almost a year as our relationship grew and then the time came to return to California. It was tough but we were committed to continuing our adventures.

long distance love

Everything we did together, everything we saw and learned was amazing! The distance was difficult but we knew this was our life. We decided we would work hard to come see each other as often as possible. So, for another year and a half, we flew from the California coast to the Tuscan hills. we continued to have one adventure after another. But each time the separation became more and more difficult. By no means was it easy, but every moment, even the extremely difficult parts, were truly enlightening.

We finally came to a particular moment when we were feeling a bit burned out and even a little hopeless about our future. Eventually, we began to question how realistic the relationship was, living so far apart. So, I was surprised when he asked me to move with him to Italy. I asked him, “You know what that would mean, right?” He smiled and said yes, and then, of course, I said yes.

Happiness

We began researching what documents we would need right away, what our timeline would be, do we have enough money, etc. Turns out there’s not a lot of information that simply breaks down how to get married in Italy. The U.S. Embassy website was a bit confusing I couldn’t understand what documents I needed, in which order, and when my deadlines would be. But we figured it out.


Breakdown of the legal process

Note: This is a breakdown of the legal process for a city hall marriage so if you are interested in getting married in a church there is a different process and set of documents for this type of wedding ceremony.

Also, note that I am American, and he Italian, getting married in Italy. If you are doing things a little differently the process is probably different.

Documents you will need:

1. Passport

 – A valid passport

2. Birth certificate

– An original birth certificate, with an Apostille stamp, is required. Send the original birth certificate to the appropriate office to be authenticated for use in Italy.

3. Other documents – if divorced or underage

– Evidence of termination of any marriage – (e.g. final divorce decree, annulment decree or death certificate of former spouse) – this document must also be Apostilled.

– “If the bride was previously married it must have been dissolved at least 300 days before the date of the proposed marriage: a woman whose previous marriage was terminated within the last 300 days must obtain a waiver from the Procura della Repubblica presso il Tribunale (District Attorney’s office) at the Palazzo di Giustizia (Courthouse), in the same city the new marriage will be performed. Such waiver is issued upon presentation of medical evidence that the applicant is not pregnant.” – U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Italy

– If you are under age 18, a sworn statement by parents or legal guardian(s).

Some of these laws are a bit medieval, right?

In order to use American documents in Italy, the birth certificate or document of previously terminated marriages must be stamped with an Apostille stamp. Since I am from California I went to California Secretary of State to have my documents authenticated.

Italian Documents

Affidavit (Nulla Osta)

What it is: “[The] Affidavit or “Dichiarazione Giurata” sworn to before an American consular officer commissioned in Italy, stating that there is no legal impediment to your marriage according to the laws of the U.S. state in which you are a resident.” –U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Italy (This document is required for all EU countries.)

Our steps:

1. Downloaded the affidavit (Dichiarazione Giurata) the from the it.usembassy.gov.

2. Purchased a € 33 revenue stamp (Marca da bollo) – purchased at a tobacco store in Italy. (These prices are subject to change)

3. Filled out the Affidavit (don’t sign until you get to the US government office), brought it to the US consulate in Florence where the document is signed, (€ 50).

4. Headed to the Legalization Office (Prefettura), in the county I was getting married in – Arezzo. 

Act Notary (Atto Notorio)

What it is: “This is a declaration, in addition to the “Dichiarazione Giurata,” stating that according to the laws to which you are subject in the United States, there is no obstacle to your marriage. This declaration is to be sworn to by two witnesses (who may be of any nationality, must be over 18, possess valid photo identification, and know the applicant; they cannot be family members, future family members or affines) before an Italian consul outside Italy or, in Italy, before a court official in the city where the marriage will take place.” – U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Italy

5. We headed to the Courthouse in Arezzo (Tribunale) with our two witnesses, passports, all of our paperwork and revenue stamps. The notary receptionist filled in our (the bride and groom to be, as well as the witnesses) names, date, and place of births and re-read to us the information (in Italian) verifying that all of the information was correct.

6. Once everything was filled out correctly everyone signed the document, which confirms that we are free to marry without any obstacles.

Request for the Marriage at City Hall

7. We went to Montevarchi city hall (where we planned to get married), in the Marriage Office (Ufficio Matrimoni) with the following documents:

– Valid ID document (passports)

– Birth certificate authenticated by the embassy from the residence country

– Affidavit  (Nulla Osta)

– Act Notary (Atto Notorio)

8. Here we were given an appointment for making a Declaration of the Intent to Marry (Promessa di Matrimonio) along with an appointment for the actual civil ceremony. We were given a list of city hall locations in the city where we could perform the ceremony.

Civil ceremony: “A civil ceremony is performed by the mayor or one of his deputies. 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.  A witness cannot serve as an interpreter.  You will have to pay a rental fee for the marriage hall, which varies according to the location, the season and the day of the week.  The fee ranges from a minimum of €500 to a maximum of €9,200.” – U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Italy

Important: You must have an interpreter or someone who can translate the legal terms and documentation process. As well as someone (not a family member or future family member) who can translate the entire wedding ceremony.

After all of that, we had a beautiful ceremony! Our next task is applying for residency but that’s another blog post. Check out a few of the photos from our wedding ceremony below. Ciao! Photos were taken by Laura Barbera, you and check out her blog here.

Check out where we decided to have our wedding reception! The beautiful farm to table restaurant, Sagona. My favorite Tuscan restaurant.


B+W wedding bouquet
Photo by Laura Barbera
Gianmarco b+white
Photo by Laura Barbera
Gianmarco b+w 2
Photo by Laura Barbera
Reading his vows
Photo by Laura Barbera
Reading my Vows
Photo by Laura Barbera
Wedding Ceremony
Photo by Laura Barbera
Wedding ceremony 2
Photo by Laura Barbera
Throwing Rice
Photo by Laura Barbera
Talking by the River
Photo by Laura Barbera

References:

  • Barbera, Laura. “Fotografo Di Matrimonio Ad Arezzo | Matrimonio All’aperto in Toscana.”Laura Barbera Photography. Laura Barbera, 05 June 2017. Web. 15 June 2017.
  • “Getting Married in Italy?” U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Italy. US Embassy, n.d. Web. 12 June 2017.
How to Marry an Italian in Tuscany: A Civil Union
6 Comments
    1. Whew! Sounds like the work we did in order to gain residency in Mexico and Nicaragua…minus the wedding ceremony! Enjoy your wonderful new life…

      1. Yea it wasn’t easy but well worth the back and forth of it all. Not to mention the difficulty with the Italian Bureacracy, it’s no joke lol. Thank you for your well wishes! Hope life in South and Central America is treating you well.

    1. First of all, congratulations – both on the marriage and on jumping through all the hoops required to get there! Also, your dress is gorgeous.

      A quick question – I’m somewhat familiar with the steps you outlined since my fidanzato and I are planning on getting married in the near future, but I’ve never heard anything about having to have an interpreter present during the civil ceremony. Do you happen to know if this is a firm requirement or just necessary if speaking/understanding Italian is a challenge?

      1. Thank you so much for your well wishes! And congratulations on your up coming nuptials!

        As far as needing an interpreter, unless you know the Italian language well enough for the union you need to have one present. Here is what the U.S. Embassy website says,

        “A civil ceremony is performed by the mayor or one of his deputies. 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. A witness cannot serve as interpreter.”

        So they don’t explicitly say it’s a law. But in order for you to understand your rights in this marriage by Italian law it makes sense to have one. I hope this helps. Please reach out to me if you have any other questions. I’d be happy to help 🙂

        1. Thanks Lindsey! You’re right, that doesn’t sound like an explicit law. I’m going to look into it more – I’ve been living in Rome for five years now and my partner and I speak only Italian (he doesn’t even speak more than a few phrases in English), so it definitely wouldn’t be a problem to understand all those marriage technicalities!

          1. Fersure! If you’re both fluent in Italian and are getting married in Italy I’m sure you wouldn’t need an interpreter. So long as everyone understands the terms and conditions 😉

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