A civil wedding in Italy, is a memorable and unique experience, thanks to the beauty of some Italian Town Halls.
A declaration must be presented to the Town Hall prior to the wedding.
This usually takes place one or two days, in advance of the wedding. Sometimes, depending on when the couple arrives in Italy and how busy the Town Hall is, the declaration might take place on the same day of the wedding, just earlier in the day.
On the day of the declaration, the wedding planner will meet the couple at their hotel, or in front of the Town Hall. It is a moment of great excitement, because the big event is getting closer! The planner/interpreter accompanies the couple to an informal room inside the Town Hall, where the details are handled. No need to be dressed up yet!
There are different rules for these procedures, depending on the country of origin of the couple. For some nationalities, the wedding planner will have provided the Town Hall with all the required documents. Those couples only need to bring their valid passports with them. For other nationalities, where part of the documents must be prepared in the couple's country, the couple must bring those specific papers along with their passports. The declaration is made in front of a Registrar, who reads it in Italian. Then it is translated by the interpreter, who has sworn to fulfill her task "well and faithfully". The text is very simple. It confirms the will of the betrothed to be married in a Town Hall (without banns, since they do not reside in Italy). The particular data of the bride and groom are on it. At that time the document is checked for accuracy and spelling. Spelling is very important. Names must correspond to those on the passports, including middle names, since they will be copied on to the final wedding certificate. The city of residence is also indicated there, as well as the date and place of birth of the couple.
Last but not least, the couple affirms that there are no impediments to their marrying. These "articles of law" are read aloud and translated, and you must attest to such things as not being close blood relatives, having no mental illness, etc!! At this point, the certificate will be signed by all present. It takes less than half an hour. Very happy people emerge, with a sense of relief.
Once this step is over, the wedding planner and the couple move on to appointments - perhaps the hair dresser and make-up artist - or to free time to enjoy some sightseeing, bask in the Italian sun, and relish Italian food!
The day of the wedding arrives! The bride and groom make their way to the Town Hall. Usually, the groom and guests are there 15 to 20 minutes in advance. They meet the wedding planner/interpreter outside and head up to the Hall where the ceremony will take place. The Mayor or another officer, who represents the Mayor, will be present, in official dress. After the bride has made her entrance, the three articles of law from the Civil Code of the Republic of Italy, (with the translation of the interpreter) which relate to mutual rights and duties of married couples will be recited. Then the final certificate will be signed. The exchange of vows and rings comes next
In most cases, couples choose to have some live music such as a violinist, a flutist or a soprano. The Town Hall usually provides recorded music, such as a wedding march for the entrance of the bride and another piece for the signing of the deed, if requested. The whole ceremony lasts about half an hour. Some celebrants like to do a little speech offering their best wishes, which might increase the amount of time a bit. Then, off to wedding meal or reception!
If the photographer and videographer are present, they will continue taking the last shots with the Mayor, and outside the Town Hall.