The next time travel-loving friends of yours gets engaged, try this little experiment – ask the female half of the couple what she’d think of having the wedding in Italy. If she doesn’t swoon, she doesn’t really love to travel. Because having a destination wedding in Italy is a dream come true for more and more couples every year – even those who aren’t traveloholics!
Weddings in Italy are becoming so commonplace, in fact, that there’s a huge industry that’s built up around helping non-Italians celebrate their nuptials in Italy. Just typing the words “weddings in Italy” into any search engine will leave you feeling overwhelmed by the choices. Depending on your budget, you can certainly pick from among the many companies which will take care of every last detail for you – including everything from getting the necessary paperwork translated, which can be a huge headache, to arranging a place for the bridal party to get their hair and makeup done on the big day. There are many different kinds of wedding packages, so you can pick one based on how much you’re willing to spend.
While you could technically do all of the stuff a wedding organizer in Italy would do for you, I’d only recommend attempting this if you’ve got lots of free time, speak reasonably fluent Italian, and live near an Italian consulate. Barring that confluence of events, I’d say hiring a wedding organizer – even if it’s only to take care of the most basic things – is money well spent. The things to make sure of before you hire a wedding planner in Italy, however, are that they are actually based in Italy and speak fluent Italian so they can help guide you through the process seamlessly. It’s best if you find someone who is either based in or extremely familiar with the town in which you plan to get married, as that means they’ll have an existing rapport with the local officials who could, if they wanted to, make the process difficult.
In 2007, Italy knocked Hawaii off the top spot in terms of honeymoon destinations, and I’d wager that it’s probably edging in on becoming the top wedding destination as well – if it weren’t for all the extra foreign paperwork, it’d probably be #1 right now! This is simply because the same things that make Italy an excellent romantic honeymoon destination make it appealing as a romantic place to get married. See my post about having a honeymoon in Italy for ideas about romantic places to have your wedding in Italy, as well.
When I got married, my husband and I originally wanted to elope in Italy. Unfortunately, the words “elope” and “Italy” don’t get along so well – which shouldn’t be surprising, given that the headquarters of the Catholic Church are here, and they aren’t so thrilled with the whole eloping thing. The truth is that getting married in Italy requires that you navigate a sea of red tape, whether you’re having a big, elaborate wedding or just want something intimate, so if you’re looking for a place to be spontaneous with your betrothed, Italy isn’t the place for you.
Having said that, if you’re interested in a simple wedding in Italy, a couple of books I found really useful in planning my own elopement were “Let’s Elope” and “Beyond Vegas.” Both books provide some good ideas for having a small and simple ceremony, and “Beyond Vegas” in particular is great for anyone who’s looking to wed out of their own country – the authors got married in several countries as part of the research for the book, including Italy!
As of this writing, here’s what U.S. citizens need to have for an Italian wedding (civil ceremony):
- passports or ID cards from the armed forces
- certified birth certificates, and certified “Apostille”
- divorce decrees, annulments or death certificates for former spouses (if applicable), and certified “Apostille”
- “Atto Notorio” – sworn declaration made with two witnesses in front of Italian consulate in the United States
- “Nulla Osta” – sworn declaration made in front of the United States consulate in Italy
That “Apostille” thing is basically a certification saying that the document you’re presenting (in the above cases, things like birth or death certificates) are acceptable in another country. These must be presented with Italian translations of the English documents, as well. The last two documents listed above also come with small fees.
Non-Italians will have a rough time finding a Roman Catholic priest willing to perform a religious wedding for them, but if you find one then you won’t have to have a civil ceremony on top of your Catholic ceremony. If you have a Protestant minister in Italy perform your religious ceremony, they will usually require that you have a civil ceremony first in order to make sure all the legal bits are taken care of. Think of it this way, girls – you can wear the dress twice.
Congratulations on your upcoming wedding, and have a great time at your Italy wedding!
For more information on how to get married in Italy, see the information here – and if you, like many, have your heart set on a wedding in Tuscany, then you might want to get a copy of this Tuscany Wedding Guide book.