Italy is one of my favourite countries in the world – with a backdrop rich in art and history ,delicious cusine,wine, and breathtaking landscapes it’s extremely difficult not to fall for the country’s charms. Late 2015, my love for Italy deepened even more when John proposed to me on a surprise trip to Rome!
During that trip we discussed wedding destinations, and we had always said we wanted a wedding abroad and now Rome seemed like the most romantic choice.
I have always been a great organiser, and so I bravely decided I would set about the task of planning the wedding myself, and I must say I think it was the best decision I ever made! There were times of course it was stressful, but it felt great to be in full control at every stage of the planning. I hope anyone who attended our wedding will agree, I think I organised a pretty epic Italian wedding!
If you’re currently wedding planning and you’re looking for some wedding inspiration, tips or reasons to convince you to choose Italy – you are in the right place!
In our case, we chose to have a catholic/civil ceremony combined in one. The churches in Rome are so beautiful you will be spoilt for choice, but one that stood out for us more than all the rest was Santa Maria in Aracoeli.
Situated at the highest point of the Capitoline Hill, Santa Maria in Aracoeli has a long history. The foundation of a first house of worship may have been laid here as early as the sixth century, when it was built in the style of an ancient basilica. It is a climb of 124 marble steps to reach the entrance, when you walk in the door the first thing to greet you is the splendour of the golden ceiling and the countless crystal chandeliers adourning the ceilings. I suggest doing some research online or indeed visiting Rome in advance like we did to see some churches for yourselves. Once you have chosen, the most important thing you need to do before starting any paperwork is to speak to someone in the church to agree an available date. On our planning visit to Rome, I met Luca, the church manager and he was extremely helpful in securing our date straight away. Once we came home we started discussions about the required paperwork with our local parish Priest, Fr O Hici. Below I have given a guide and breakdown of the steps involved in the hopes it will seem a little less daunting. Remember you can hire a wedding planner to organise most of this for you, but inevitably it will be up to you to get most of the documents from your own priest at home, so I found it better to be my own wedding planner and stay in control myself!
The best advice I can offer having been through the process is to keep checking in with everyone regularly. Once religious paperwork is complete and sent off, check with your chosen church in Italy that they have received it, likewise with the Nulla Osta, check with the Embassy in Rome once you know it’s in process.
Legal and Religious Paperwork Required
In Italy, you can have a Religious Ceremony, a Civil Ceremony or a Symbolic Ceremony. You can also have a Religious Catholic and Civil as part of the one ceremony in a church. (Most churches will urge you to complete the Civil ceremony in Ireland as it is much easier paperwork, however NOT essential.)
- There is no official residency requirement for civil ceremonies in Italy
- Civil ceremonies and Catholic ceremonies are both legally binding
- A Civil Ceremony can only happen at the local Town Hall and buildings managed by the Town Hall. Luckily many of these buildings are beautiful including palaces, villas and castles to name a few.
- You will need at least 2 witnesses.
- If you’d like to have only a symbolic ceremony you can marry in a any wedding venue with the permission of the person who owns it.
Requirements for a Catholic Wedding Ceremony in Italy
- Either you or your partner (or both) must be a Catholic and neither of you can be divorced.
- It’s a long process, start 6 months before, and make sure the church in Italy has the paperwork 2 months before.
- Paperwork should to be completed at home, usually through the bride’s parish
Your local parish priest will help you prepare the following documents at home:
- Pre-nuptial enquiry– your local parish will provide you with this and it is required by both of you
- Baptismal, Communion and Confirmation Certificatesissued by your parish church within the last 6 months (old copies will not suffice)
- Letter of Freedom– A formal letter from your parish priest that states that you have fulfilled your Pre – Marital course requirements This letter should also include permission from the priest that you are free to marry in a Catholic Church elsewhere. The priest will forward this on to the local Archbishop who will prepare a cover letter to forward on with the documentation to the Church in Italy.
- All paperwork for a catholic wedding is in additionto the civil paperwork listed below
These are the documents you need to organise the wedding in Italy:
- A valid passport
- Official, Long Form, signed Birth Certificates
- Proof any previous marriages have ended (Divorce Decree or Death Certificate)
- Fee 60eur per applicant (120 eur) (this changes from year to year so it’s best to check DFA in Dublin or Irish Embassy in London beforehand)
- MP1 Form. and MP2 Declarations (which are part of the application here )
- These Statuary Declarations must be made and signed in the presence of a Notary Public, a Commissioner for Oaths or a Solicitor.
- Application for Nulla Osta(a Certificate of Freedom to Marry) . Applications should be submitted at least four months before the date of the marriage or civil partnership/civil union. your Certificate of Freedom to Marry will be sent by the Department to the Irish embassy in Rome who will then forward it to the district where you will be married.
Note: The Pontifical Irish College in Rome offers great assistance to Irish citizens arranging a Catholic wedding in Rome. As they are so helpful and will often be suggested by your Irish Parish Priest there is a common misconception that this is the only church you can marry in in Rome, however you have a choice of any church you choose – you just need to get in contact with the church yourself directly and ask for permission to marry and check available dates.