Get the legal arrangements in place
The ‘getting married abroad’ section of the Direct.gov.uk website is the ideal place to get clued-up on the official requirements you’ll need to fulfil. Fill in your details with the online tool and it will tell you what you need to do – but it’s also worth doing your own research for the part of Italy you’d like to get married in.
Your first port of call will be to contact the Italian ‘comune’ (or town hall) concerned, and find out about their local marriage laws and which documents they will require. You will definitely need to prove you’re free to get married by getting a certificate of no impediment (CNI) and a statutory declaration. Your partner will need both of these too (providing he or she is British – if not, their documents may need to be different).
Get your CNI by arranging an appointment at your local registry office – it will cost you £35 and you will need to take along some other documents – you can then collect it after it has been displayed for 28 days (and nobody registers an objection!). Under Italian law, a CNI is valid for six months - and while it won’t ever expire in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, CNIs issued in Scotland are only valid for three months, so make sure you get your timings right.
Once you’ve got them, you will need to have your CNI and statutory declaration legalised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. You will also need to get a certified translation of your CNI, using an approved translator in Italy – and if any of your necessary supporting documents aren’t in Englishor Italian, they will need to be translated too. Phew!
Remember, these rules only apply if you are arranging your wedding from the UK – if you are already in Italy, you will need to obtain a 'Nulla Osta' from the British Embassy in Rome. Find out more here!
Same sex marriages
Italy has recognised same-sex civil unions since June 2016 – yay! Pretty much the same documentation applies to arrange your ceremony; check out the information above and visit the Direct.gov website.
You may also need to provide photocopies of your passports in advance, which are often required to expire more than 6 months after your return to the UK. The same may apply for your witnesses, as well as a proof of address. You might also need to show the long version of your birth certificate, which includes your parents’ names. Always check with your Italian town hall in advance!
Two witnesses over the age of 18 are required to sign the register at your ceremony. If neither of the couple speak Italian, by law you will also need an interpreter – a multilingual wedding certificate will be issued to you too.
Most town halls will waiver any residency requirements for couples from abroad, but it’s advisable to arrive in Italy four days before your wedding. Some communes will stipulate that the couple need to do a Declaration of Marriage two or three days before the ceremony, so do check beforehand.
It’s also worth noting that Italian law states that a divorced or widowed woman must wait at least 300 days before marrying. This doesn’t apply to men – they can get married as soon as the next day!
There is no legal requirement to log your wedding abroad with the Registry of Births, Marriages and Deaths (GRO) – but if you choose to do so, they will take the original copy of the marriage certificate and issue certified copies on request. Alternatively, you can organise your own safekeeping of your marriage certificate.
Organising an Italian wedding is a lot to take on, so consider hiring a wedding planner or dedicated company to help you with the more complicated details. Thomson offer some great packages, while Y&YW favourite Elisabetta White specialises in Italian destination weddings. Finally, check out our top tips for organising an overseas wedding - and let's get planning!