Before you make fun of me for taking a selfie in front of Michelangelo’s David, read this first. Nothing worth anything in life is easy, and this is especially so when you are two foreigners living in a country and trying to get married. I am the kind of girl who is always up for a challenge, though normally if the challenge includes making countless phone calls and getting hung up at local government offices, I usually run to the door instead or to a local bar. In this instance, I have to offer a pretty damn good shout-out to my fiance Nico, who has been the one sending email after email and inquiring on what bureaucratic moves an American and French person needs to get married in this country —where we both happen to be residents, pay taxes and drink plenty of wine.
I should mention that as we are getting ever close to our wedding this November, I am dedicated a series of articles, #MyTuscanWedding, to getting married in Italy and all the good, bad and ugly that goes with it. I
It was fun to start on one of the happiest memories, the proposal, where I also offered suggestions where you can pop the question (if that’s your thing) in Florence as well as did a fun podcast with my friend Rick Zullo.
An American Getting Married in Italy: What You Need To Do (and When)
The cool thing about our situation is that we are both foreigners, back for red-tape (kinda) but at least I can help navigate those looking to marry here if both people are not Italian. First things first, think about when you want to get hitched. This matters for more than just the party planning, because there are time limits on when you can start certain procedures.
First comes first, what documents do you need:
- Valid U.S. passport. And for residents of Italy like me, your permesso di soggiorno & Carta di’identita.
- Original/certified copy of your birth certificate, translated and the certification must also be certified.
- Evidence of the termination of any previous marriage/s if applicable (e.g., final divorce decree, annulment decree, or death certificate of former spouse). Translated into Italian and certified.
- Affidavit or “Dichiarazione Giurata”
First things first, is your ‘Dichiarazione Giurata’ to get married. This fun document basically states that you aren’t following the ‘Sister Wives’ examples and participate multiple marriages at once. It is issued by your country of origin in Italy. In my case I made an appointment at the consulate in Florence, with the huge barricades and security entrance that makes you feel like you are entering Baghdad. Just be aware that you need to make an appointment to do this. It was very easy and straightforward, as long as you do not have a pending divorce.
Everyone has to do this and it is only valid for six months, so don’t rush to do this until you decide your wedding date. You’ll need your first two (of many) marca da bollo, the Italian administration stamp of hell, for an amount that equals 16 euros and bring your passport, and cash or credit card (not bancomat as I learned the hard way) to pay the 50$ (or the same amount in euros) processing fee. Once this is done you need to go to the legalization office (Ufficio Legalizzazioni) of the local prefettura to legalize it. This was easy. You need another marca da bollo of 16 euros and a valid document. I did this in five minutes.
Now it’s time for a drink. Rather, the start of many.
After a glass or three of wine. What’s up is the atto notorio. Because I am a resident, I needed to make an appointment at the tribunal in Florence and bring two friends who speak Italian and can legally declare to an official that I am able, sane and not a murderer to marry. These witnesses must know you well, not be family members or future family members and if they don’t speak Italian, you need an official interpreter. If you don’t live in Italy, than you need to do this at the closest Italian consulate in your home state and do it fast, as waiting lists can be long.
If you are in Florence, and a resident, apparently you can make this appointment over the phone or email. But naturally we got hung up on 200 times and had no email replies. So we went to the tribunal, made an appointment for the next week, and I convinced my friends by begging them and offering to pay for breakfast. A cappuccino can cure any bureaucratic hangover, but tequila is better.
Remember to bring, in addition to your legal identification, two marca da bollo’s of 16 euros, and one of 11 euros, then you can pick it up after four to ten days. If you need it quicker, bring two marca da bollo’s 16 euros and one of 33, this way you get it right away.
So thinking this was going to be super formal like the nulla osta at the US consulate where I had to stand behind plated glass, I was pretty surprised when I walked into a messy office with a lady wasting no time in telling me that the internet ‘didn’t work so well.’ Perfect! The guy made fun of my accent and questioned my mom’s last name ‘are you sureeeee there is a ‘z’ in Velazquez’ to the point where I almost questioned my own memory of my mother’s last name. Apparently I was supposed to print out the document that he forwarded me (with someone else’s info on it) via email and he was pretty annoyed that he had to input it right then and there. But he did it, and I was thankful.
I should note that because I am marrying a French citizen, he was not required to come, or do this. Just US citizens, so if you are both Americans, make sure you bring your passports, translated and certified birth certificates in addition to your two witnesses and interpreter.
I had to have my birth certificate translated into French and notarized by an official in Texas in order for me to complete the paperwork to marry a French citizen (where I might actually be able to get citizenship before Italy). This was a pain. My dad had to drive an hour to the capital city and take care of that for me and fedex everything to my Italian address. Perhaps you can do this online though? Not super difficult, but something you should know.
After the atto nottorio, I now need to head to Palazzo Vecchio, the town hall where we are both registered, to get our marriage appointment at the marriage office. How it works is that civil banns must be posted at the Town Hall for two consecutive weeks including two Sundays, before the marriage can take place. If you are not a resident of Italy, no worries, than this procedure is waived. Once they decide on a date, the ceremony itself is performed by the mayor or one of his deputies. You need two witnesses and one interpreter to translate your ceremony from Italian into English.
When you are married, keep in mind that the U.S. Department of State recommends requesting multiple certified copies. The last step is returning to the prefettura or legalization office where you will then need to obtain the apostle for your marriage certificate.
Been Married Before? Read This First
One thing to note is if you have been married before. I have heard the law is changing (or maybe has already) but basically the Italian government has a law decreeing that a woman cannot remarry after being divorced or widowed, for 300 days. No it does not apply to men (naturally) and I was sort of shocked when I first heard about this even thought it was explained to me it was more about if a woman carries a child. I am hoping someone who reads this post can confirm whether or not this law still applies and who thinks this is actually a good idea? If this situation does apply to you, you will have to present your Decree Absolute and previous marriage certificate.
Civil vs. Religious
Keep in mind too that if you get married in a church, the priest will conduct the legal ceremony and then register the marriage with the civil authorities. The Catholic church has requirements beyond the ones asked above, such as baptismal and confirmation certificates plus letters of freedom. I would recommend contacting the church where you would like to get married to see if it is not only available, but to start getting information on what you need in order to marry there.
If you are like me and plan to marry in Florence at the Palazzo Vecchio, the civil marriages take place in the “Sala Rossa”, or ‘Red Room’, which is beautifully decorated in red. You can also choose to marry in the grand ‘salone dei cinquecento’ or ‘sala di lorenzo’ in addition to the Bardini Museum, Florence Rose Garden (amazing), Villa Vogel. Weddings can take place from Tuesday to Sunday and the fee ranges from 500 – 2,000 euros for non-residents, yes it is pretty pricey and I am thankful to be a resident. I will report back later on how much we spent and the exact procedure in a special e-book that I will create after the wedding :).
Want to Change Your Name? In Italy, Maybe Not!
So a discussion that I see often on expat boards about Italy is whether or not it is a good idea to change your name. Now I might touch on this in more detail at a later date as part of #MyTuscanWedding, but I have a funny feeling that if you want to live in Italy, it is better not too. Here, the woman keeps her maiden name upon marriage and any future children adopt the last name of the father, unless otherwise specified. I would love for anyone of you guys to elaborate on this if you have personal experience.
From what I have been reading, it seems like it was a big mess for those living in Italy to change their married name since here it is so uncommon they might think you are married to your brother. However, if you want to do so, visit a US Embassy or Consulate with the Civil Certificate of Marriage issued by the Wedding Hall, along with your passport. I will probably keep mine and just change it on facebook, since we all know facebook is god anyway.
Hate Red-Tape? Hire a Celebrant!
So if you just don’t want to both with all of the documents necessary, then by all means no one will blame you! Get married in the legal office of your home country and hire a wedding celebrant who can conduct a symbolic ceremony for you. In Florence, and beyond, I can highly recommend Jo Bertolino of Tuscan Pledges.
I have done this many times even for friends and it is a beautiful option, especially considering that you can choose the type of ceremony. For example, using candles, a special wine box that you can open on your first anniversary and so much more. In fact, Nico and I will be using a celebrant to ‘marry’ us after the Palazzo Vecchio legal ceremony which means we can do this in more than one language, which I am really excited about.
Keep in mind you can also hire a wedding planner to help expedite this process. Especially if you want to get married quite quickly, when I am done with this series, I will provide a list of personal recommendations to those who want to go that route.
Also same-sex marriage is not yet allowed in Italy —which I personally hope changes soon. If you are in a same-sex relationship you can always get a celebrant and ‘marry’ in Italy anyway :).
Also since I am just starting all of this process, I would be interested in hearing your experience. Please share your story in the comments below. What you needed, how stream-lined the process was, I want to hear it all!
Start Your Planning
The first thing we did was look for a photographer. Though we both speak Italian, I wanted someone who also spoke English because the wedding guests are international. We ended up going with Francesco Spighi, who is a local Florentine with a very distinguished artistic eye and his photos are absolutely incredible!
As always I am not an expert, just a girl getting married in Italy and sharing her story, so I like to send you to those who are. The US Consulate in Florence has this handy link with all the info US citizens need to marry in Italy, so consult, print and take a deep breath, it’s not that hard. If you are coming from the states and looking to get married in Italy, I also recommend reading this very informative blog post. Regarding the revenue stamps, or ‘marca da bollo’ you can purchase these at any Tabacchi (look for the blue T), the rates have gone up and are not reflective of the ones you see on the consulate wesbite, you will need ones of 11 or 16 euros.
- Consulate General Florence, link to make an appointment. PDF of the ‘Dichiariazione Giurata’.. Lungarno Vespucci, 38 – 50123 Florence. Tel (switchboard): (+39) 055-266-951, Fax: (+39) 055-215-550, Website: florence.usconsulate.gov. For your nulla osta.
- Prefettura of Florence, legalization office, address: Via Antonio Giacomini 8 (near piazza liberta). Open Mon-Fri 9am – 11am, additional hours on Thursday from 2pm-4pm. To legalize your nulla osta.
- Florence Court House (Tribunale Ordinario)
Viale Giudoni, 61
Entrance B Floor 3 Room 102
Telephone: (+39) 055-799-6880; 055-799-6451 (they never answer).
Hours: Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 12:45pm and also on Tuesday from 3:00pm to 5:00pm; by appointment only. Inquiries Monday through Friday from 12:00pm to 2:00pm
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. For your (residents) atto nottorio.
- Florence City Hall- Marriage Office – Palazzo Vecchio – Palazzo della Signoria
Telephone: (+39) 055-276-8518/8370/8291/8276/8026
Call Center: 055-055
Hours: Monday to Friday 8:30am- 1:00pm and also on Tuesday from 2:30pm to 5:00pm, website. To register your intent to marry.
- List or recommended translators/interpreters that I got from the Consulate of Florence’s website.
Paperwork is oh so fun! I’m actually writing about this process myself after having done it. We should chit chat about it!
Absolutely! I’m also looking to interview people getting married in Italy like my locals I love series, would you be game?
Hi – did you have help with the translation? Looking for someone to commission, to do all this with us.
That’s interesting how women don’t change their last name in Italy! I hadn’t realized it was that way there. In the Spain-speaking world, women definitely don’t do that, either…but, they do inherit both parent’s last names!
I need to go lie down.
Wow – what a process! I think I’d go the celebrant route after marrying more conveniently elsewhere, as I’ve little patience for red tape. It all sounds terribly exciting, though, and I can’t wait to see wedding photos! Are you wearing a traditional American-style wedding dress?
And LOL re: FB is god – hahahaha!!
According to my daughter and our relatives in Italy women don’t change their last name to honor their fathers. In the USA more and more women are keeping their maiden name, especially professionals like: doctors, lawyers, authors, tv & movie stars because they are known professionally by their maiden name. Others keep their maiden name for the reason they keep it in Italy.
Ciao Gil, that could make sense. I have always wondered who started the name changing business in the first place. My only thing would be wanting to have the same last name as my future children, but hey — one step at a time, I don’t want to take on more red-tape than I can feasibly handle at the moment!
My husband and I got married in Siena 3 years ago (it was wonderful :-). We are both UK nationals though, so it was a lot more straightforward (we were still living in the UK at the time of our wedding, so used a wedding planner to help with the organising – she was worth her weight in gold)!
I decided not to change my name – it was just simpler and less hassle (and less expense), but I had SO MANY people ask why I hadn’t taken my husband’s name (it almost seemed as if the only person who didn’t mind about it was him!)! When we moved to Italy (a year ago) though, I felt fully vindicated when I discovered that Italian women don’t change their names after marriage and that the fact that I’d kept my maiden name would make things easier over here. I always knew there was a legit reason for not changing my name, just took a while to work it out 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing Helen, being from the same country helps a lot when it comes to the red-tape but having a wonderful wedding coordinator is key as well! I know what you mean regarding changing your name, I really didn’t think it was that big a deal anymore but I get asked already. I definitely am ok with keeping mine too since I’ve spent 30 years with it ;-).
As you know, I’m going through the same process at the moment 😀
So, if there are any UK Nationals reading this, as a UK citizen resident in Italy, you need to get the Nulla Osta from the British Embassy in Rome, and to get it you need to produce:
– your original/certified birth certificate, featuring both your parents’ names. Just the English version is fine – no need for translation
– your UK passport
– proof of your Italian residency status, preferably from the last month or so (bills in your name etc), but if you don’t have those then your letter of registration from your Comune is fine (this is what I did)
– a copy of your partner (if they are Italian)’s passport.
You’ll then have to spend a good half hour filling out forms, before paying €92 to process the application, €92 for the Nulla Osta itself and €10 if you want it posted to you.
Finally, you make a sworn declaration that everything you’ve written on the forms is true, and the Embassy post your intention to marry form in the public area there. If no-one objects to your intention to marry, you will be issued with the Nulla Osta after 7 clear days of posting. It’s then a case of taking the certificate to your Comune and getting yourself booked in for your wedding, no more than 6 months from the date of the Nulla Osta.
Something else to note is that, depending on your Comune, it can be tricky to arrange a venue. In my Comune (Catania), for example, there are 4 buildings authorised for legal weddings, at four different price-brackets, from free to £732. It used to be that open-air weddings were allowed as legal ceremonies, but this is no longer the case. This has led to the situation between my fidanzato and I where we’re having three (count ’em!) weddings this summer! The first will be the legal ceremony where we sign the paperwork and become officially marito e moglie. The second will be an open-air ceremony for our closest friends and Italian family, and the third will be a church blessing ceremony in the UK. Phew! I think I’m going to need some champagne after all that … 😉
Kate, THANK YOU SO MUCH. I am very happy that you posted this very valuable info for any of my UK readership. It is funny that you are having three marriages as well because so are we! Comune, symbolic ceremony and party in Texas. Let’s crack open that champagne, shall we?
Cheers! Here’s to getting married multiple times to the same person!
I’ll drink to that!
Hi Georgette! Great article – so informative. About changing your name. I wrote a post on this because we got married in the States and lived there for 8 years. So I changed my name. Then we moved here and I went back to my maiden name (which I secretly was kind of excited about). My life has since been a name hell. One document with one name, another with the maiden name. It is a big mess when I try to travel, and I won’t even get into what I have go through when I try to pick up a package at the post office. Anyway….good luck with your plans, seems like things are really coming along!
Just got back from our wedding in Tuscany that took place two weeks ago! As two Canadians getting married, there was a long list of paperwork that at first looked quite overwhelming, but was actually quite manageable with the help of a wedding planner and enough time! I would just say to plan things out on a timeline to ensure adequate time for deadlines and find a helpful wedding planner! I’m so glad we went through with it all and it was well worth it. 🙂
Hey Jessica! I’m also a Canadian (living in New York) planning to get married in Italy and would love to hear more about your wedding. I’m thinking about a wedding planner as well but am a bit of a loss at how to find one right for us (the ones I’m getting off a google search are coming up short).
Hey guys, I know of a few that might work for you, these guys are awesome for a more bohemian feel , otherwise I am talking to a few people right now if you want some personal recommendations :), read Rick’s post too
Hello! I am a Canadian who married an Italian last summer and had to jump through some hoops because of Italy’s 300 day law. I’ve heard it depends on where you are getting married because not every comune follows this law but I am not sure about that. I got married in Bologna and needed to hire a lawyer, get blood tests done to prove i wasn’t pregnant (because if I was then it could possibly be my ex-husband’s baby and for italy that’s a big deal I guess), and request permission from a judge to get married before the 300 days were up. Luckily the whole process only took around a month and we got our nulla osta and were able to get married.
Congratulazioni on your engagement and happy wedding planning! I am looking forward to more updates and posts!
I did this 27 years ago and my marriage has outlasted most of the people I know who had huge
Weddings in America. Got married in that beautiful room by a beautiful Italian magistrate
But had a friend translate as the ceremony went along (not a lot of English back then). Great memories and always celebrating a milestone in Italy.
Thank you so much for your information! We are wanting to get married between October 21-30th of this year and haven’t started any paperwork. Can you put me in touch with someone that can help expedite this??
Hello Lori, how exciting!!! I think you should contact Joelle Edwards, she is a sweetheart and wonderful wedding planner, her website is here.
Hey there Georgette!
Boy am I glad to find your site! Congratulations on your wedding that’s coming up soon! I LOL’d at your post so much, especially because I totally know what you’re talking about with the repetitive phone calling and getting hung up on a million times, and also how the US embassy in Florence seems like a scary place (I felt like a criminal the way the guards were speaking to me). Anyway, I would love some help/answers as I have a few questions about getting married here. I am an American citizen currently staying with my Italian fiance in Bologna, which is his current place of residence. We are trying to get married before my 90 day period of allowed stay without a visa is over, which is QUICKLY approaching — 2 weeks remaining (why we’ve procrastinated until now makes no sense at all, and we’re both kicking ourselves for this.. in the shin.. a lot). I have an appointment in Naples (tomorrow & Florence/Rome/Milan were full of appointments until too late for me) to get try to get the Nulla Osta, and then will head over to the local legalization office (prefettura) to get that document legalized. What I would like to know if you happen to know this, is if my birth certificate is from Korea and is in Korean obviously (so I’m Korean born and an American citizen), 1) WHERE would I take this document to get it translated to Italian and 2) WOULD I need to get this document legalized the same way as the Nulla Osta? And furthermore.. (sorry.. can you tell I’m desperate? 🙁 I’ll take any help I can get) 3) Would I be able to get all these necessary documents (Nulla Osta & Birth Certificate translated/legalized) to apply for a marriage certificate here in Bologna as soon as in 3-5 days? And lastly, if this is all possible in the time I have, once we apply for the marriage certificate, how many days does it take for us to be considered married and receive our marriage license? — Is it immediate or does it take a few days/many days? I’m also trying to apply for a permit to stay as a foreign spouse… is why I would like to know all this as well… Any help would be much appreciated! Thank you!
Cara, what did you do for your birth certificate? I’m in a similar situation (my fiancé is American but born in China). We’re in the states but plan on marrying in Italy and I can’t figure out what to do and not finding many answers.
Any guidance is much appreciated.
Hello! Thanks for the insight. My husband and I got married at the courthouse alone in downtown Seattle and would now like to have a more romantic ceremony in Florence. (Long story, it has been a complete disaster with his family and mine! We now want a private ceremony void of all family!!). I looked up Francesco Spighi’s website and loved it. I have contacted Weddings in Tuscany about their services and hope that I can put together a nice, private ceremony. Thanks for your info.
Hello Suzie, I know how crazy things can become. You guys will surely have a special day and Francesco is truly an amazing photographer, I was very choosy with this specific service. After all the one thing that remains with you is the photos. I wish you the best of luck and keep me posted on how it goes, I adore it all!
Hi hope your well. Your website is sooo useful so thank you! We are getting married in 2017 just outside of florence. We are planning to get married and sign are papers at the register office in the uk and were having a ceremony that is like the real wedding in florence just to save on complications. Do we require any particular paperwork at all?
Thank you SO much for this valuable information! I’m from Washington, D.C., hoping to have a small wedding in Cortona in September. Can you please tell me what Italian civil ceremonies are like? Is it brief and curt..no walking down the aisle, being given away by your father, etc? Can your family be there, and can you wear your wedding dress? what companies do you trust the most for wedding planning services? Thanks! 🙂
Hi! Did you have to take your Affidavit or “Dichiarazione Giurata” to get your atto notorio?
Your description suggests no. The US consulate information suggests no. My fiance just made the appointment for the atto notorio in Milan and they made a strong point that I needed to bring my nulla osta (or affidavit).
I did get my dichiarione giurata (which was very easy) before getting my atto nottorio, you just need to make an appointment at your consulate.
I am hoping you can help me. My brother is Italian but living in the UK. His fiance is from the USA and they want to marry in Italy. What would the process be for them as he is a native but lives abroad? BTW, he speaks very basic Italian.
Thank you kindly.
I am hoping you can help me. My brother is Italian but living in the UK. His fiance is from the USA and they want to marry in Italy. What would the process be for them as he is a native but lives abroad? BTW, he speaks very basic Italian.
Thank you kindly.
We are both US Citizens looking to get married in Italy. We have just started the information process. There is a lot of paperwork and info we do not understand. Do you have any suggestions of wedding planners to help with the paperwork process and wedding planning? We are going to be wanting a legal civil ceremony. We are looking at October 2017. Thank you and Congrats!
Georgette, any advice for me? I am travelling to Florence in February with my wife and daughter. I would like to surprise my wife and ask her to marry me again. I think it would be a nice tenth anniversary celebration and a cool thing for our daughter to witness. I just need a chapel, a priest and a veil.
Oh my gosh that sounds so lovely! Honestly I would highly recommend getting some help with this. Either contact Simona http://www.wtuscanyevents.com or I can pass you the contact of someone who arranges nice proposals (she could probably do this too!). ps. I think you’re kind of awesome for even thinking to do something like this!
Friendly greetings! LOVE THIS ARTICLE! Thank you. I’m an Cali American who married an Italian in Naples, Italy 2 years ago. I’m reading your story, nodding my head, sipping on my red wine, thinking ‘Finally, a person who can understand the chaos I went through!’ And HUGS to your dad for making the trip out there and back, people don’t realize how difficult things can be when you’re not physically in the same city where things need to be done. My husband and I are now living in California. I didn’t change my last name, but now I would like to. Do you know where I can begin this process? I’m not sure to reach out to the US Embassy, or the Italian civil marriage place where they issued our marriage license. Any help from anyone would help!
You are very welcome Vanessa, it can be a hot mess all the red tape that getting married entails. I certainly didn’t expect all of the roadblocks we did but luckily wine is cheap in this country. My dad is pretty awesome, it really meant the world to me to have my family here and get to really meet Nico’s too.. It was special! Regarding your name change, since you guys are based in the USA I would imagine it would be quite straightforward, especially if you are a US citizen. I would reach out to the local marriage office in your area first before you contact the embassy.
I am planning to be married in pienza later this year., the priest of pienza required us to be married in civil ceremony in US. I now have all the papers for the church. does everything have to be translated? and if so, do you know anyone that does this?
I would double check with the church because likely every place is different. Do you have a wedding planner that can help you?
Hi Georgette! Every time I google ‘marry in Florence’ your blog always pops up! My boyfriend and I (both UK nationals living in the UK) are wanting to marry in Florence next year, at the Palazzo Vecchio. I have literally no idea where to start with this. We don’t need a wedding planner per se as we just we want a simple ceremony there, but do you know of any wedding planners who could help us with the booking? It’s all so confusing and I have no idea what to do or who to turn to!
Ciao Rebecca, I’m happy to hear that! I would contact Simona, she’s a local wedding planner who can help you with the red-tape headache you are currently going through. You can check out her website here http://www.wtuscanyevents.com. I wish you guys the best of luck!
I realise this is a pretty old post, but it is pretty relevant to my life at the moment and I was hoping I could ask you a question?
I am an American about to marry an Italian citizen… and the biggest problem that can’t seem to get a straight answer for is whether I can have my birth certificate translated in Italy? And does the translation have to be stamped with an apostille? Did you have this problem? I am hoping you can give me answers as my time seems to be slipping away from me…I would appreciate any help you could give me, thank you (:
I’m getting married to my Italian partner in Florence in a few months and am seeking an answer to the same one you asked a couple years ago (regarding the birth certificate translation)… did you ever get it figured out? 🙂
Cheers, from one very dazed and confused Americana
I just wanted to add, that since 2017, to schedule the atto notorio in Florence you have to make an account online and then book through this website: https://www.tribunale.firenze.giustizia.it/it/Content/Index/42623. They have appointments available M, W, and F from 12-13:00. I am American and I was not informed or instructed to bring my birth certificate with me. I called the Ufficio di Matrimonio and they also said that I don’t need a copy of my birth certificate. Thank you for the extremely helpful article!
Thank you Ellie, very useful link!