Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Upshot: yes, it's possible, it's a gigantic headache, but it's possible. It'll be easier if you're already at least 18, otherwise there's another document you'll need (and you shouldn't be getting married so young, anyway!)....More......
You'll need an official passport and the "Nulla Osta" ("no obstacles") from your national consular authorities in Italy, or...'the appropriate authorities in your own country'...whatever that means.
If you're an American citizen, instead of the "Nulla Osta," you'll need to go to the U.S. consulate in control of the Italian city where you want to get married, and in front of the consol declare that you are free of any obligations that would prohibit you from being married (i.e., you declare that you're single, divorced, or widowed). The declaration will need to be in writing/typed, but you'll need to sign in front of the consol. The consol will co-sign your document, and this substitutes the "Nulla Osta". The American Consolate in Milan is in via Principe Alberto 2/10 (the Turati stop of the yellow Metro line n. 3), general: tel. (+39) 02.29035.1; Fax (+39) 02.2900.1165; U.S. non-emergency Citizen Services by appointment only, tel. (+39) 02.29035.1, Monday through Friday 8:30 AM – 12:00 PM, fax: (+39) 02.2903.5273, email: email@example.com. (I found nothing on their web site about getting married in Italy...wow....)
Once you have the "Nulla Osta"/official U.S. declaration of no current marital obligations, you'll need to get the signature officially recognized at the "legalization" office of the local prefect (a kind of governor...here's the web site in Italian only for the one in Milan located at Corso Monforte 31 (tel. +39.02.77581, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org). This might be where they notarize the document, too.
Once you have the authenticated "Nulla Osta," you and your spouse-to-be will need to go in person to the Italian city hall to the "Anagrafe" office (where things like this are registered), and you'll need to bring the following documents:
--the authenticated "Nulla Osta"/"no impediments" documents for both of you
--valid photo ids for both of you
--birth certificates for both of you, authenticated by your consular authorities in Italy
--if you want to get married in a church, a copy of the request made to the officially recognized priest/pastor.
At this point, you'll be given an appointment to appear before an official of the Italian state to mutually declare your intention to marry each other. The official will see that this official promise to marry each other is posted for 8 days (obligatory 2 Sundays) in the public place set aside for this purpose (in case your current spouse chance's by that bulletin board buried in the City Hall's corridors to run to the official to affirm that you lied when you said you were single/divorced/widowed. Yeah, right. Oh well, even in this age of airplanes and internet, some things have to be done the old-fashioned way).
Once those 8 days have gone by you can go back to the office where you made your pledge, and get the official certificate of the publication of your pledge. You have 180 days to do this...so if you get cold feet in the meantime, you still can back out!
Once you have this document in hand, you go to the "Ufficio di Stato Civile" of your local City Hall, and schedule your wedding date...presumably they mean only for civil ceremonies, since you obviously have to coordinate your church wedding date with the priest/pastor. Or maybe they'll want you to take an official document from the priest/pastor to this office so that the day can be officially registered. Who knows? Italians are very big on bureaucracy.
As I recall, there were fees to be paid for the paperwork...and I hear tell that the priests "ask" for a "donation," but I couldn't tell you how much.
So, you've gotten all the documents, and you're ready for your big day!
For the ceremony, you'll need two witnesses who are Italian citizens, or who have a valid "permesso di soggiorno" (the Italian version of a "green card"). Hey, how do you get these witnesses, if you don't know anyone in Italy? I dunno.
Those who don't know Italian well, may be accompanied to the civil/church service by a translator (it doesn't say that the translator has to be an officially recognized one).
The civil ceremony takes place in the place designed by each city in the presence of the two witnesses. It's quick--about 15 minutes--and touching.
The documents are signed and registered immediately, and you're official!
The typical Catholic wedding mass takes place in a church, and lasts about an hour, after which the documents are signed, and you're official...for the church...only. You'll be official as far as the Italian government is concerned ONLY after the priest (or whoever does it for him) officially records the ceremony with the state at the City Hall.
You can see from this that, if you want to get married by a priest/pastor in a church, just be sure to ascertain first that the officiating priest/pastor in question is officially recognized/empowered to conduct the service also on behalf of the state (agreements between the state and the Catholic church in the 1920s stipulate that church marriages performed by officially recognized religions are officially recognized by the state, too...the agreement surely is extended to other officially recognized religions, but better to be safe than sorry).
Want to get married on the beach? Go to California. Italian weddings are not that flexible.
Whether an official civil ceremony or an officially recognized church ceremony, the marriage is legally binding, and can be transcribed in your home country depending on the arrangments between the countries. Contact your local city registrar beforehand.
After all this...can you see how it would be easier to run away to Las Vegas, get married there, then take your honeymoon in Italy?
If you're determined, I'm sure that a search on the internet will find reputable travel agencies with experience in organizing weddings in Italy. Let them do all the paperwork!
A WORD TO THE WISE: this information is provided for general purposes, only, and is not to be taken as an official list of documents and things to do. Sources--not checked for accuracy--: Stranieri in Italia (in Italian, only); official Italian government info (in Italian, only); Official info in English on the web site of the city of Turin (no such luck on Milan's pages)
Do I hear wedding bells in your future?!
(I took the snap of the lovely baldacchino and golden altar in Sant'Ambrogio--one of Milan's oldest churches--on the 2nd of July, 2011. I see that I haven't dedicated a post to this church, yet...I feel one coming on!)