How to plan your Catholic wedding in Italy from abroad
Catholic wedding ceremonies in Italy can contain a civil element that is recognised under Italian law, meaning it’s totally possible for foreigners to get legally married in a Catholic ceremony in Italy. Alternatively, many couples choose to legally marry in their home country, and conduct a symbolic Catholic blessing ceremony in Italy. In fact, there are some areas and churches in Italy that will only perform a blessing ceremony for non-Italian residents – however the incredible range of stunning Catholic churches in Italy means you should easily find a perfect venue if you want the ceremony to be legally binding.
Regardless of your preference, there are several necessary steps and pieces of documentation to arrange in order to have a Catholic ceremony in Italy. We recommend couples allow at least nine months to plan a Catholic ceremony to ensure you have enough time to arrange all your religious documentation – and additional civil paperwork if you’re planning to be legally wed during the ceremony.
Religious documentation you will need
All Catholic weddings require specific paperwork. To be married in a Catholic church in Italy, at least one spouse needs to be Catholic. If one spouse isn’t Catholic, then a mixed religion wedding will need written approval from your local Bishop. If either of you have previously been married, it won’t be possible to remarry in a Catholic church unless you have received a formal annulment.
Your preparations will need to start in your home parish at least six to eight months before the wedding.
You will need to provide:
Pre-marriage preparation certificate from your Pre Cana class. This must be issued no more than six months before the date of your wedding, otherwise the certificate will expire and won’t be accepted in Italy.
Baptism certificate, confirmation certificate and first communion certificate stamped by your Bishop’s office.
Mixed religion marriage application approval if one spouse is not Catholic.
A Pre-Nuptial Inquiry or Pre-Nuptial Investigation, giving approval to marry outside your parish from your Bishop. It is issued by the archdiocese of your town. Your Priest will complete and sign the questionnaire, and the document must be sealed by your local Bishop. Again, this must be issued no more than six months before your wedding date.
A letter from the Bishop of your parish, giving you permission to marry in Italy. Ensure this letter specifies the name of the church, city and date where you will wed. This will need to be signed by your local diocese on formal letterhead of your Bishop’s office.
A formal letter from your parish Priest, giving you permission to marry in Italy. Ensure this letter specifies the name of the church, city and date where you will wed. This needs to be written on your parish letterhead and should have a seal or stamp by your Bishop’s parish office. It should also confirm that you have completed your Pre Cana class.
Original of the civil wedding certificate, if you are being legally married in your home country before coming to Italy (bring this along with you when you come to Italy).
Once you've got all that...
All Religious (Pre Cana) paperwork must be translated into Italian and sent to the parish in Italy at least two months before your wedding date (but no more than three) – giving time to ensure all the documentation is correct.
If everything is ok, the Italian Curia will issue a religious Nulla Osta, giving you official permission to wed.
You will then need to prepare a booklet with the ceremony’s text – your local parish should be able to help with this. This will need to be ready at least a month before your wedding – again to allow time for any necessary changes to be made.
Once you arrive in Italy, you will usually arrange to have a meeting with the Priest conducting the ceremony before your wedding day to discuss the final details (and provide your official wedding certificate if you legally wed back home).
Your ceremony will either need to be conducted by a Priest who speaks English, or by an Italian-speaking Priest with an English interpreter
It’s also important to remember that you will need to make a donation towards the church – this is usually discussed when you’re booking the church. Many churches also have a list of approved (or not allowed) music – again, this is an important detail to discuss when enquiring into the church. Brides will need to make sure their shoulders are covered.
Civil documentation you will need
If you have been civilly married prior to your Catholic ceremony, then you will need to present a copy of your legal marriage certificate to the Priest. However if you want your Catholic ceremony to be legally recognised and contain the civil element, then you will need to arrange no impediment certificates in Italy before your wedding day.
The civil paperwork and processes required in obtaining this vary depending on your nationality – but you will need to prepare all the civil paperwork as if you were having a civil ceremony.
And don't forget, we're here to help
It can feel a little overwhelming trying to pull all this paperwork together and ensuring everything is absolutely perfect to meet Italian requirements. But it's ok, we're here to help. We will be able to check your documentation along the way to make sure you've got everything right.