Wedding Ceremonies

Understand the types of marriage ceremony available in Italy...

The civil ceremony

A civil ceremony is performed by an official of the Marriage Office (the Mayor or a delegate) at the Town Hall. Two witnesses must be present and friends and family may attend. If neither party speaks Italian the authorities may insist that an interpreter be present.

During the ceremony, the official will read from the Codice Civile. The couple will be told the rights and duties between spouses. It will end with them being declared joined in marriage.

If the couple wish to have joint financial responsibility (beni communi) or retain separate financial responsibilities (beni separati) this should be declared during the civil ceremony. The latter is similar to a pre-nuptial agreement where each partner renounces any claims on the other's assets in the case of divorce or is not liable to any claims against their partner such as in the case of bankruptcy claims, company liquidation etc.

The Marriage Certificate (Atto di Matrimonio) is drawn up and names and details entered into the Marriage Register (Registro di Matrimonio).

A civil ceremony may be followed by a separate ceremony or religious blessing.

Religious ceremonies

A Roman Catholic marriage does not require a civil ceremony as the Catholic priest has the authority to register the marriage with the civil registrar. All preparations should be made through the church. Documents required will include those above (aside from divorce documents) as well as baptism and confirmation certificates. Both parties must be confirmed and baptised and attend a church pre-marital course.

Religious ceremonies for all other churches and faiths must be preceded by a civil ceremony and the marriage certificate should be made available. Arrangements for the service can be made directly with the local officiant.

Same-sex union

Italy has allowed civil partnerships “Formazioni Sociali Specifiche” between same-sex couples since 2016. The rights and obligations for such partnerships are very similar to those of marriage, with the exception of adoption (stepchild adoption) which is prohibited. There has been much opposition against same-sex marriage. The European Court of Human Rights found Italy to be in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights in connection with the rights of the private and family life of homosexual people.

Civil unions/partnerships/marriages conducted abroad can be registered with the Italian authorities and are considered valid as long as they are legally recognized in the country where they took place. 

Couples (including same-sex couples) in a “marriage-like relationship”, who live together and support each other personally and materially, are considered domestic partners. To formalize the relationship, one of the partners needs to send a declaration form to the Office for National Statistics in the district in which they wish to establish joint residence, specifying that they wish to apply for a common-law partnership (Convivenza per vincoli affettivi)