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 is one of the few western European countries without legislation on same-sex couples. Attempts by the Government of Romano Prodi in 2007 to introduce legislation failed. Several local municipalities have however passed laws providing for civil unions that allow same-sex partners to register. These registers mostly have a symbolic value, and are not legally binding.