What are the options for same sex weddings in Italy?
GOOD NEWS since 2016 it has been possible for same sex couples to have a civil union in Italy. As a helpful starting point for those planning a same sex weddings in Italy, Jo Daye from Italy wedding planning agency Accent Events has put together the following guide.
It is still a relatively new process for Italian citizens as well as for international couples.
There are some differences to the planning and preparation of documents of a civil union ceremony compared to that of a civil wedding.
The most important difference is that in the process there is a mandatory period between the first meeting the couple will have at the town hall in Italy and the day of the actual civil union ceremony takes place. Currently this is at least 15 days but a town hall could ask for more time to check all the documents.
It is important that for the first meeting the couple attend in person, with an interpreter present if neither individual speaks Italian, and each individual must have ready the Certificate of No Impediment document and Statutory Declaration document with Apostille stamps. It may be that the Town Hall will also ask to see additional documentation and this is dependent on each couple’s personal circumstances.
The first meeting is to gather the documents for the town hall official to ask pertinent questions of each individual, he/she will also confirm the date and time that the civil union will take place and this is recorded in official Minutes. The couple will then return for their ceremony on the specified date and time.
The Civil Union Process for those couples who live in long distance countries.
The mandatory period between the first meeting at the Town Hall and the date of the civil union ceremony may make it difficult for those couples who live in long distance countries to meet the necessary requirements.
The preparation of documents in the home country for the civil union ceremony in Italy will have a validity period, for example Americans cannot start the documentation process more than three months prior to the ceremony date. Add to this the minimum time lapse between the first meeting at the town hall and the actual civil union ceremony and it could mean that a USA couple must plan to have an extended stay in Italy to meet the requirements for the current legal civil union process.
If the process proves prohibitive because of this period of time between the first town hall meeting and the civil union ceremony date the option would be to have a symbolic ceremony in Italy which is free of any rules or regulations and for the couple to marry in a same sex ceremony in the home country if this is an option.
Same Sex Marriage Act
The legalisation of same-sex marriage in England and Wales in the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, ensured that same-sex couples were finally able to marry, secure in the knowledge that they would have the same legal rights and recognition as opposite-sex couples.
Previously, same-sex couples had only been able to live in legally recognised intimate partnerships similar to marriage, but without the permission to marry, or to describe themselves as married.
Not only having the right to call yourself married, but having the reassurance of your rights in relation to the big issues such as family, finance and funerals is one of the most important aspects of a marriage.
Not to lessen the importance of what this Act brings to the status and rights of each partner, it has also opened the doors to the amazing world of same sex weddings – an industry that currently brings in £80 million per year.
Same Sex Weddings in Italy – Planning
Aside from the obvious difference in who is going to be getting married – two men or two women – there is really no difference to our role as wedding planner. We are there to advise, to guide and to inspire and to make magic and sparkle happen for the happy couple – for every happy couple – and we have been doing this for many years now.
Rules and Regulations
For same sex couples to legally marry in Italy there are rules and regulations which must be followed and elements of the civil union ceremony that cannot be omitted, amended or embellished. To make a civil union ceremony more personal and special for a couple our interpreter usually provides guidance as to where and how the ceremony can be tailored and personalised, through the addition of readings, personal vows and an exchange of rings.
It may surprise you, but none of these elements form part of the legal requirement for the Italian civil union wedding ceremony. This often confuses couples as they try to relate what happens in an Italian civil union ceremony to the UK format. The ‘romance’ element can only be introduced within the permitted limitations and phases.
If it is not possible for you to meet the legal requirements for a civil union in Italy, you cam still choose Italy to celebrate your love for each other in front of family and friends with a symbolic ceremony.
With no legalities to meet this means you have freedom and choice as to where, when and how you wish to commit to each other. A symbolic ceremony is utterly rule-free…it is yours to plan, shape, create and celebrate as, how, when and where you wish!
Free from the legal requirements you can immediately focus on the more fun and enjoyable aspects of destination wedding planning, finding your dream location and venue in Italy, the styling and design; and of course the ceremony; there is no need to marry up (s’cuse the pun) the availability of the venue with that of the town hall, only one of the little quirks we wedding planners have to juggle for our couples!
The actual legal and contractual marriage can take place in the home country (if permitted) and this can take place before or after the symbolic ceremony in Italy. Keeping this a low key event, part of the wedding admin – the formal signing of the paperwork – so that the focus is on the symbolic ceremony in front of your chosen loved ones – or why not make your wedding a dual location wedding – the paperwork at home and the commitment ceremony in Italy.
Wedding planners love symbolic ceremonies. A symbolic is void of any legal obligation, couples who choose to commit to each other in a symbolic or unity ceremony do so with total freedom to show & share the love in a personally designed ceremony that can be of any length, include very personal stories and readings and be genuinely inclusive of those present to participate in the ceremony.
Imagine writing your own vows, including much loved memories of how you met, the things you adore doing together, the hopes for the future and what it means to have everyone around you at this moment in your life it will, I promise, have everyone tearing up or at the very least embracing the emotion. Currently there may only be one choice but what a choice to have where there are no limits to your imagination.
Accent Event’s symbolic celebrants are experienced professionals with many years behind them in ceremony design. They are also bilingual English and Italian-speaking adding to the overall Italy wedding experience you will be creating for your family and friends.
Introductions will be made right at the start of the wedding planning, giving you ample time to get to know each other. Your ceremony will be tailored especially for you both, by getting to know you over the months our celebrant will give your wedding story its own voice and tone. It will be something to treasure.
Same Sex Weddings in Italy – Civil Union Bill
In February 2016 the Italian Senate approved the same sex – civil union bill – although this is progress – in order to get the bill approved the provision that would have allowed gay adoption has been removed, much to the disappointment of same sex couples.
In addition to the USA there are over 20 countries where same-sex marriage is legal. And now same sex couples can make Italy a wedding destination – not only for a legal civil union or super sensational symbolic ceremony, but also for La Bella Italia’s other attributes.
Note: Information updated as of December 2018 *legalities: Although you must meet the legal requirements of the country in which you are marrying, you are still bound by the laws of your home country in so far as your capacity to marry is concerned.
Update: Same-sex / civil union ceremonies in Italy are now legal – Find out More here.
Images: Alfonso Longodardi
Find out More
I hope the above information has been a helpful starting point. If you would like more information about same sex weddings in Italy, symbolic ceremonies or to receive a copy of Accent Events Weddings Brochure, please use the form below as a quick and easy way to contact them.