So, you’ve decided to elope. And not only that, you’ve decided to elope in Italy. Can we just stop here for a minute and talk about how freaking AMAZING that is? Not only are you committed to doing this thing your way (which is super impressive in itself), but you’re doing it in one of the most gorgeous and romantic places in the world.
Are you as excited as I am?? Good. Now that we’ve established how fabulous this is all going to be, let’s dive into all the details you need to know to start planning your day!
The first thing to understand about getting married in Italy is that there are multiple options for your day:
This is a popular choice for couples planning destination weddings in Italy. In a symbolic ceremony, you can exchange your vows in any way and location that feels authentic to you, without any rules or regulations.
The catch is that you will still need to have an official wedding in your home country. This can be as simple as a trip to your local courthouse or county clerk’s office. Or, you can roll it into a pre- or post-elopement celebration with friends and family. In a few states in the US, you can even self-solemnize. In those states, you can just sign the marriage license and you’re done!
While some couples feel strongly about having their “official” ceremony in Italy, I generally recommend a symbolic ceremony for couples traveling from outside Italy since it makes everything so much easier in terms of when, where, and how you can have your elopement.
Religious wedding ceremonies in Italy are performed by a Roman Catholic priest, and must be held in a Catholic church. For this type of ceremony, in addition to all the requirements of a civil ceremony, you will likely need to provide additional documentation to the church, including baptism certificates and information from your home church.
Non-religious ceremonies, as well as religious ceremonies outside the Catholic church, are called civil marriages in Italy. You will still need an officiant, generally a mayor or other government representative from the area where the wedding is taking place. You will also need 2 witnesses. Civil ceremonies must be performed at a location approved by the government, and require some advance planning (more on this below).
At this point, I’ll just take a minute to note an alternate option available for your elopement. For some couples, the goal is simply to express their love and commitment to one another in a special way, and it’s not super important if their union is recognized by the government. This is called a commitment ceremony, and it’s a great option for couples who can’t or don’t want to get legally married right now. There are many reasons why couples choose to go this route. The bottom line is that all that really matters is your love and the commitment you choose to make to each other.
So you’ve weighed the options and you really want your Italy adventure to include your legal wedding ceremony. Here are the steps you need to follow if you are a US citizen eloping in Italy. If you are eloping from another country, consult the Italian embassy in your home country for information and requirements.
First of all, you’ll need to provide the following documentation:
Civil or religious ceremonies require multiple steps. It is recommended that you contact an Italian Consulate office well in advance of your trip to fully understand what is required and ensure that you fully understand the requirements and timelines. Generally, you’ll need to do the following for a civil ceremony:
There is also a waiting period of up to 2 weeks from when you sign the affidavits to your wedding day. This waiting period can usually be waived for non-Italian citizens, but how much depends on the locality. Be sure to check with the consulate and local officials as far in advance as possible to make sure you’re prepared.
Civil Ceremonies can only take place in locations approved by the Italian government. These are generally town halls, villas, and certain designated outdoor areas.
Religious Ceremonies must take place in a Roman Catholic church.
Symbolic Ceremonies can take place anywhere your heart desires! Since your official ceremony will take place at another time, there are absolutely no restrictions on where or how you can have your ceremony. This is such a popular option for that it’s easy to find english speaking planners and officiants that specialize in symbolic ceremonies. And lucky for you, I can also help you plan and officiate your Italy elopement!
Civil ceremonies need to have an approved officiant. This is usually the mayor or other designated official from the area where your ceremony will take place.
A Roman Catholic priest must officiate a religious ceremony.
You will need 2 witnesses present when you apply for your Atto Notorio before your civil or religious wedding. Two witnesses must also be present at a civil ceremony.
Symbolic ceremonies do not require an officiant or witnesses.
If you, your partner, or any of your witnesses do not speak Italian, you’ll need to have a translator present when you apply for your marriage paperwork and at your civil or religious ceremony.
No translator is necessary for a symbolic ceremony.
Same sex civil unions became legal in Italy in 2016. This affords same sex and gender neutral couples the same legal protections as other married couples. However, in some localities the process and/or waiting period may be different than for religious or civil ceremonies. You’ll want to contact both your country’s embassy and the locality where you plan to have your ceremony well in advance of your trip to confirm the timeline and details.
I firmly believe that love is love, and ALL couples deserve the right to express that love in whatever way they choose. While it is a step forward that Italy recognizes same sex unions, it’s disappointing that they stop short of fully recognizing those unions as marriages.
As I’ve said above, unless it’s super important to you to have your “official” ceremony in Italy, I recommend symbolic ceremonies for all destination elopements. That way, you don’t have to worry about the timeline and can focus on spending your day exactly how you want it, and have a more relaxed experience making it official at home either before or after your trip.
Yes. The US recognizes religious/civil marriages or same sex civil unions in all states in the US.
You deserve to have the Italy elopement of your dreams. From the moment you reach out to me, I’ll help you craft an experience that feels authentic to you as a couple. I offer unlimited consultations as part of every package to make sure that your elopement is everything you envision. I’ll help you find the right location for your ceremony, plan the right activities, and help out with all the logistics for your day. My goal is to make your elopement a hella fun and stress-free experience!
With all of my Italy elopement packages, you’ll get:
Want to learn more? Schedule a free consultation and let’s chat!
Hey! I’m Adam and I live for helping couples just like you make their elopement dreams come true. If you want to learn more about how to elope in Italy, I’m your guy! I can help you find the best Italy elopement package and share all my tips to find the perfect location and activities for your elopement.
If you’re ready to start planning or just have some questions to decide if an Italy elopement is right for you, I’d love to hear from you.