When couples come to us for the first time to plan their destination wedding in Italy, they often ask “Can I get married in Italy?” and “Will the ceremony have civil validity?”
Of course you can get married in Italy! And of course you can get married with an Orthodox ceremony! As wedding planners, the question we pose is: “Deeply symbolic or short and sweet?”
While Orthodox ceremonies can be long and involve many solemn rituals, many couples choose to include in their rite only the highlights which they find most meaningful from their personal point of view.
We don’t know yet how you envision your wedding, but we’re sure that Orthodox ceremonies require very careful planning!
Hopefully, this short list will provide an answer not only to the question “Can I get married in Italy?”, but above all, to “How?”
Paperwork is likely to take a long time to get sorted, so our first piece of advice is to get started as soon as possible. What does that mean? One year in advance is a suitable time!
That doesn’t mean you have to panic: requirements to get married in Italy are quite simple; but thinking ahead of schedule is a good idea because you should check with your minister the following…
• A baptismal certificate may be required.
• If one of you is not Orthodox, ask about requirements regarding conversion or intermarriage.
• For the Orthodox Church, matrimony is a very important sacrament, which unites a man and a woman indissolubly; the bond even survives the death of one of the spouses and only a Bishop has the power to dissolve this bond and allow a second marriage, so if this is not your first marriage, make sure you obtain divorce recognition from the Orthodox Church before going any further.
• Is your minister recognized by the state? If the answer is yes, the civil validity of the Orthodox union can be secured before or within the religious marriage service.
The Orthodox rite resembles a dance. It consists of two distinct parts: Betrothal and Coronation.
Betrothal involves the minister blessing the couple before they exchange rings.
Coronation sees the betrothed being led to the altar by the minister. Together, they dance around the altar three times and exchange three chalices of wine before being crowned.
Once the bureaucratic aspects are sorted, you might want to think about defining important ceremony details and choosing the rings and crowns.
But the main reason why you can get married in Italy with an Orthodox ceremony only if you plan your wedding well in advance is because you need to make sure the chosen date does not coincide with other Orthodox holidays, such as:
• The Four Long Fasts
• The Fast From Eating Meat
• Holy Week, Leading Up To Easter
• Christmas Period 7th January and the Theophany Feast 19th January
…together with several other dates (you can drop us a line for the full list)!
Adding this to the fact Orthodox churches are located in the country’s top wedding destinations clearly illustrates why this aspect is just as important as all other requirements to get married in Italy.