If you’re looking for a unique and unforgettable place for your wedding, Italy is it! It’s a place where even one visit is not enough because of its stunning natural scenery, delectable cuisine and wine, art, and fashion.

You will undoubtedly return for more of its velvety tiramisu, bubbly melting cheese on a fresh pizza, and smooth cold taste of gelato, but it’s not just about the food. Italy has the most breathtaking scenery you could ever imagine.

From cobblestone streets, historic cathedrals, scenic vineyards, beaches, finest Italian wedding villas and venues, it’s the best place to tie the knot. So when you want to create a “wedding experience” that’s unforgettable, you need an area that has it all - and Italy is it!

With a Catholic wedding in Italy, you’ll experience Venice's perfect Instagram filter-like golden glow, the elegant style of Roman boutiques, sunlight splattered across olive trees, and its delicious foods.

These are just a handful of the numerous explanations for why Italy is the best wedding location. So, we’ve put together this helpful guide to help you plan your Catholic wedding in Italy.

Italian Catholic Wedding Traditions You Should Know

Italy is recognized as the country of love, from the seductive sound of water lapping against the walls of Venice's medieval palazzi to the seductive aroma of citrus blossoms in Sicily. To keep things traditional, you should be familiar with the most common Catholic wedding traditions. 

Long-standing practices abound in Catholic wedding traditions, but they go well beyond reciting a few verses from the Bible and having a priest officiating. Thankfully, a lot of Roman Catholic wedding customs are generally known. With the help of this guide, you'll know what to anticipate while planning your Roman Catholic destination wedding. Here are just a few Catholic wedding traditions in Italy.

Wedding Date

Fridays are rarely used for weddings in Italy since it is said that on this day, evil spirits are formed, and being married on a Friday will only bring you bad luck. The best day to get married is Sunday since it is considered lucky and represents fertility and prosperity.

Good Luck

In many Italian weddings, the bride and the groom will take every precaution to ensure that the union is blessed with good fortune. The groom must have a tiny bit of iron in his pocket to ward off evil spirits. And to bring in luck, the bride will make a little rip in her veil.

First Look

We’re not talking about the first look where the couple sees each other before the ceremony…In some Italian areas, the bride is not permitted to look in the mirror before the wedding. Wow! Now that’s an interesting tradition. But luckily, she can take a peek if she takes off a glove or shoe first. 

No White

You’ve probably heard the wedding tradition where no one can (or should) wear white to a wedding. This Catholic wedding tradition will probably last forever, so yes! Even if the bride isn’t wearing white, tradition states no guest should wear white to an Italian wedding. 


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The Bridal Bouquet

In Italy, the groom is expected to pay for the bride's bouquet as his final gift to his sweetheart before she becomes his wife. The groom must pay for the floral arrangement and ensure that it is brought to the bride on the wedding day; she can choose the flowers and colors the groom must pay for it. 

Catholic Marriage Certificate

The newlyweds receive a Catholic marriage certificate as proof that their union was "solemnized" (a ceremony occurred). That’s it! It’s just one document that is needed to complete the requirements for a “legal Catholic marriage.” But, for a private catholic wedding, only getting a Catholic marriage license is insufficient. In most locations, you must still obtain a formal marriage license from the town hall or registrar's office before the wedding.

Catholic Marriage Requirements

A Catholic wedding ceremony differs significantly from a traditional wedding in many ways. Therefore, couples embarking on this magnificent, sacred journey must be aware of the traditions and rules of this type of religious ceremony.

Contrary to most other weddings, Catholic marriages may call for extensive pre-marriage counselling with a priest, the completion of specific paperwork, and even participation in specific church functions.

You may believe that the typical Catholic marriage preparations take a month or even a few months, but many churches have a long waiting time of up to several months! Here are some of the Catholic marriage requirements for your wedding in Italy.

Church Ceremony

Most of the time, a Catholic wedding must take place within a church. The couple must feel close to God throughout the ceremony because it is unique and sacred. Hence the ceremony shouldn't be held somewhere else, like by the beach or in a vineyard.

If you dream of an outdoor venue for your wedding, we’re sorry, but for a Catholic wedding in Italy, you’ll have to skip that in favour of a blessed church wedding. Also, remember that Catholic wedding ceremonies do not have custom vows written by the couple; instead, the priest will recite traditional vows, and the couple repeats them.

Inside church bench with flowers for a Catholic Wedding In Italy

The Interview

The first step toward walking down the aisle is often for the couple planning to get married to schedule an appointment with the priest before Pre-Cana (or pre-wedding). If you decide to get married in a Catholic church, many parts of your wedding may change, including your clothing, your bridal party, and the locations, so consult your parish priest as soon as possible.

Prenuptial Investigation

The canonical interview may be followed immediately or accompanied by a church investigation. According to the church, the goal of this study is to determine how prepared you and your spouse are for marriage. Divorce is still not encouraged!

Following the initial consultation, a couple will go through the Prenuptial Investigation, a one-on-one discussion with a priest conducted under oath. The investigation aims to determine how well they comprehend marriage's four fundamental [tenets]: that you join into it voluntarily, that it is a lifetime commitment, that it is exclusive, and that it is open to children.

Required Documents For Church Weddings Abroad In Italy

Different churches may have other requirements for marriage. Many will need documentation of confirmation, communion, and baptism. You can ask the individual church where you received the sacraments for a copy because most churches keep records of attendance at these ceremonies. Don't worry if that's not achievable. Many priests will accept two witness affidavits for each sacrament.

Catholic Wedding Pre-Cana

When planning a beautiful catholic wedding in Italy, you must do the Pre-Cana. Couples will go through Pre-Cana, the church's mandated program for marriage preparation, after completing their paperwork. The Pre-Cana program may have a variety of criteria, depending on the diocese, including many sessions with a priest, attendance at a required event like a conference or retreat, and more active participation in church activities.

The sessions with a priest make up the majority of Pre-Cana. In addition to providing guidance on what the church teaches about marriage, during these hour-long counseling sessions, couples will be questioned about existing and potential problems in their union, such as how to handle money, how to deal with potential in-laws, how to behave in public or any other issue that might be impeding faithfulness or fulfilling one's role as a spouse.

Before continuing with the marriage preparation, the priest has the right to suggest a session with a psychologist to address specific difficulties if he discovers any "impediments" to marriage or carrying out the spousal function.

Getting Married In A Catholic Church

While getting married in a Catholic church in Italy may require a few extra steps, the experience and the memories will be worth it. But, if you feel like the process seems too much to handle on your own, hire a wedding planner. They will help keep you on track and on budget and make sure nothing that is required is missed. They are worth every penny spent, especially when you're getting married abroad. 


Useful reading chosen for you: How to Get Married in a Catholic Church in Italy


Outside church door with flowers for a Catholic Wedding In Italy

Catholic Destination Wedding Italy

A Catholic destination wedding in Italy is most likely the most unforgettable wedding you’ll ever experience. From the incredibly majestic natural scenery, culinary delights, rich culture, history, traditions, and of course, the memories you’ll create, it all sums up to be the best wedding ever.

And if you’re planning to have your wedding in Italy, be sure to hire a wedding planner to help you put all the pieces together. 

There are thousands of fantastic wedding locations in Italy. So, whether you are getting married in a Catholic church, on the Amalfi Coast, in Venice, in Rome, in a church, at a vineyard, or on the beach, the memories you’ll create with your forever love and family will be cherished forever!

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Italy is one of the most beautiful and romantic places on earth, which is why so many couples choose to get married there.

You'll fall in love with la dolce vita as soon as you step onto a cobbled piazza or watch the world go by from a gondola, and if you need to pop the question, there is no better place than Italy to make the occasion even more special.

And while there are thousands of beautiful settings to say “I Do” in Italy, getting married in a traditional Catholic church is one of the most popular. 

But, when you’re planning a Catholic wedding in Italy, there are a few extra hurdles that you have to go through. Luckily, we’ve put together this handy guide to help you plan an unforgettable wedding in Italy, whether you live here or abroad.

Why Getting Married in a Catholic Church In Italy is a Good Choice?

Numerous differences exist between a traditional wedding and a Catholic wedding ceremony. Therefore, it is crucial for couples starting this lovely, sacred journey together to know the customs and guidelines unique to this form of religious ceremony.

Contrary to most other weddings, Catholic marriages may call for extensive pre-marriage counselling with a priest, the completion of specific paperwork, and even participation in specific church functions.

If you’re looking for a romantic destination for your wedding steeped in tradition and religion, Italy is it! And don’t forget, along with the jaw-dropping scenery, the culture and cuisine are incredible. So, the overall wedding experience will be something everyone will enjoy and remember for a lifetime. 

Get married in a catholic church in Italy

Catholic Marriage Requirements

Before getting approval to marry in a Catholic church in Italy, you must fulfil some basic requirements.

First, no matter where you are from, you must present official documentation of your and your spouse's identities to get married in Italy. You will also need an "Atto Notorio" document signed by two witnesses to establish the same thing, as well as an affidavit from a consular office in your home country stating that there is nothing legally preventing you from getting married there.

But that’s not all.

Having a Catholic wedding and getting married in a beautiful and historic Catholic church does require a few extra steps. After fulfilling all the requirements, you can get approval to get married in a Catholic church in Italy. 

Catholic Church Requirements To Marry In Italy

Parish Permission

According to the Canon law, the marriage should be held at the Parish of either one person from the couple, whether at the groom's Parish or the bride’s Parish.

This is one of the main reasons why couples choose to marry in their hometown. But, if tying the knot in your hometown isn’t your idea of a dream wedding, don’t worry. You can request a formal letter from your Parish to marry at another Catholic church.


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The formal letter will contain permission from your parish to get married in any church you want to choose. The specific time and date of your wedding ceremony in Italy should be clearly mentioned in the formal letter by your parish.

The most important thing in your formal letter is fulfilling all the Pre-Cana procedures. So, ensure a permission letter from your parish with clear statements. 

Permission from Bishop

Another essential requirement is to have a permission letter from Bishop. Your priest needs to secure the letter from the bishop of the parish. It must state the same things as in the Parish priest's formal letter. 

Make sure to get this letter on the formal letterhead of both parish and the bishop. The formal letter from the Bishop holds vital importance for getting married in a Catholic church in Italy, so always make sure your letter states the following points:

Prenuptial Inquiry Form

The third document you need to submit is the original prenuptial inquiry form. The prenuptial inquiry form is the investigation that includes your personal details and some specific data according to your religion. This is a type of questionnaire that needs to be filled out with your priest. 

Make sure to have the inquiry form stamped and sealed by your local Bishops’ office. And also, the letter must be issued from your priest. 

Documents

After getting all the necessary letters, you also need to submit some documents before getting married in a catholic church in Italy. These documents include:

These documents must be sent with the prenuptial inquiry form to make sure you can get married in a catholic church in Italy. Your local bishop’s office should stamp and seal all these documents. 

Permission of Mixed Religion

Another thing that might be needed is the permission letter for the mixed religion wedding. This is necessary when one of the people is not Catholic. So, you need to have the permission letter for mixed religion before getting married in a catholic church in Italy. 

These were all the documents you needed to send before getting married in a Catholic church in Italy. Now let’s move toward the process of preparation for a catholic wedding, i.e., Pre Cana.

The Ultimate Guide to Pre Cana

In the Catholic marriage requirements, one of the most important prerequisites is pre-Cana. So you might be wondering what a Pre Cana is. 

Pre Cana is a course or consultation for marriage preparation. This is required for couples who are going to get married in a catholic church. 

In the sessions with the priest, the priest will guide you all about the wedding in a church. He will discuss all the problems you are facing in your relationship. It may include financial issues, handling in-laws, or any other potential issue that might disturb your marriage. 

If the priest finds any issue or hindrance to fulfilling your role as a spouse, he will send you to the psychologist to address your issues before proceeding with wedding preparations. This will help you in the best possible way in your married life. 

Different Ways of Delivering Pre-Cana Courses

  1. The one-day event, along with the group of engaged couples.
  2. The full schedule of meetings may end in 4 to 8 weeks.
  3. Guided sessions with the couple who sponsor the course and will act as mentors.
  4. Blending learning is also an option for Pre-Cana.

These are how you can prepare yourself before getting married in a Catholic church. There is more than one option, so it may be easy for you to choose according to your routine and preferences. 

When to Start Pre-Cana Course?

The requirements for the pre-Cana course vary from place to place and church to church. But in general, many parishes recommend you to complete your pre-Cana training six months before your wedding. 

Holy Bible and rosarium in a church italian wedding

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What to Wear to a Catholic Church Wedding?

Weddings are joyous events, but guests who are unsure what to wear to the ceremony may also feel stressed. But Catholic weddings differ sufficiently from other wedding ceremonies that attendees might need more instruction on manners.

Knowing what to expect, dressing appropriately, and acting appropriately should make you feel at ease and confident when you attend your next Catholic wedding ceremony.

There is no specific dress code for attending a catholic church wedding. But, as the wedding is inside the church, it’s best not to wear anything disrespectful as communion will also be part of the Catholic wedding. 

Check for the Dress Code

Sometimes people set a dress code for their Italian church wedding so their guests won’t be confused about what to wear to a Catholic church wedding.

So, always ensure to read the invitation card for the dress code. But, if the invitation doesn’t include details on what to wear, it’s best to follow the general guidelines outlined below.

Do Wear - For The Guys

Do Wear - For The Ladies

What Not To Wear To A Catholic Church Wedding

Follow the Color Scheme

Try to follow the colour scheme of the invitation card; you will know which colour scheme is the theme of the Italian church wedding. 

Shoes

As far as shoes are concerned, the women can go for modest heels while the men can choose to wear closed-toe shoes. 

Hosting or attending a wedding in Italy is probably one of the most magical and memorable experiences you’ll ever have. It’s a country filled with romance: love, history, and tradition. So, if you have a chance to host or attend a Catholic wedding in Italy, you’re going to love it!

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A Catholic wedding ceremony differs in many ways from a typical wedding. For couples embarking on this beautiful, sacred journey together, it is imperative to be well-versed in the traditions and rules specific to a religious ceremony of this kind.

Unlike most other weddings, Catholic weddings may require a long period of pre-marriage counseling with a priest, particular documents to be made, and even attendance in certain church events.

You may think a month or even a few months is enough for standard Catholic marriage preparations, but many churches have a considerable waiting period of up to several months!

Therefore, inform the church of your impending nuptials at least 9 months in advance, so the priest has time to book pre-marriage counseling sessions with you and your fiancé. Know that these steps apply even if your to-be spouse does not belong to the Catholic faith.

Here below we'll show you what Catholic marriage requirements do you need for your church wedding.

catholic marriage requirement church view inside
Photographer: @davidbastianoni

The Wedding Takes Place In Church

A Catholic marriage ceremony has to occur indoors in the church in most cases. The ceremony is unique and sacred, and the couple must feel close to God, so it is not preferred for the ceremony to be held anywhere else, like by the beach or in a vineyard.

If you love outdoor venues for weddings, you’ll have to skip that in favor of a quiet albeit blessed church wedding. Also, remember that Catholic ceremonies do not have custom vows written by the bride and groom, but the priest will recite vows, and the couple repeats them.

The Interview & Investigation

An initial interview can clear up many logistical aspects of your wedding, such as listing the documents needed, how to book counseling, how to book the church for the wedding date, and so forth.

The priest who will act as an officiant at your wedding needs to be near you location-wise; otherwise, you may find booking problems. In many cases, the priest carrying out the pre-marriage counseling may not officiate and may appoint another officiant due to unavailability.

An investigation on the part of the church may accompany or come immediately after the canonical interview. This investigation is vital in the church's eyes because its purpose is to ascertain how ready you and your spouse are for marriage. Divorce is still frowned upon!

The couple must understand the four main pillars of a Catholic union, namely the marriage’s permanence, exclusivity, openness to offspring, and both parties entering the union without reservations or objections.

Bear in mind that particular churches have reservations about remarriages or conducting a ceremony for an individual who has been married before and their previous spouse is still living. Affidavits will be signed, so the church's process is quite formal and documented to ensure complete transparency.

catholic marriage requirements benches inside the church
Photographer: @davidbastianoni

What are the documents and requirements for a valid Catholic wedding?

Documents can vary slightly across churches, so make a point of inquiring about the exact documents you will need to submit and, in some cases, acquire to book your ceremony at your parish.

⮚   Baptismal and confirmation certificates.

Submit certificates from the church where your baptism occurred (this will not apply to a non-Catholic spouse, and there is no pressure to convert). Confirmation certificates confirm the baptism and need to be dated within the last 6 months. Some churches may require submission right away when you interview, and some may wait until a couple of months before the ceremony, but it is better to have them prepared and ready to go from the offset.

⮚   A marriage license

A civil marriage license obtained from your municipality is typically needed. The license needs to be valid for at least 4 months.

⮚   The affidavit of being free to marry is both a legal and a catholic marriage requirement.

It serves as evidence of your marriage and proof you or your spouse are not secretly married to another individual. It is usually referred to as a replacement marriage certificate as it proves a wedding took place in the legal world.

⮚   Marriage preparation course completion.

The bride and groom need to attend marriage preparation courses (also known as Pre-Cana). A certificate of attendance and completion is a vital document you need to present. This may even be done online in some cases if the couple is based abroad but want to return and be married from their local parish.

⮚   Marriage Banns Forms.

Every church does not require this, but ‘banns’ are declarations carried out on 3 successive Sundays in the church in the presence of a congregation to announce the impending nuptials. Traditionally it provides ample opportunity for new information to come forward or raise objections if there are any.

catholic marriage book in a bookrest and flowers
Photographer: @davidbastianoni

Related: The 7 Best Catholic Italian Destinations for your Wedding

A Guide To Pre-Cana

Pre-Cana is a meaningful and crucial part of Catholic marriage and is always required. It can take the form of classes or a course, but it can also be a series of consultations.

The term Cana comes from the Bible regarding the wedding feast in Cana, where Jesus changed water to wine. Most pre-Cana courses have some core topics and discussions that your priest may choose. The format of Pre-Cana can also vary according to your priest. Still, the primary purpose is to encourage conversations that are considered vital to the spirit of marriage and provide valuable Catholic teachings the couple may or may not know.

The Pre-Cana may be the first time a couple is getting training in having a shared perspective or reaching an agreement on issues such as the faith or upbringing of any children in the future. If your spouse is not Catholic, the pre-Cana attendance can also be a kind of primer course for them to learn some of the beliefs you hold dear. Even topics like intimacy or financial management may be discussed in this course because marriage is made up of many practical decisions and not just romance and love.

Visit your church to know the format they prefer for Pre-Cana. It can even be a weekend retreat you share with several other couples, a series of weekly consultations your priest schedules, or even an online course you are tested on. Know that pre-Cana is the name given to the accumulated knowledge you acquire from a priest or deacon to prepare you for your upcoming marriage.

The pre-Cana may also bring to light psychological issues that you or your spouse may be repressing or suffering from, so the course may include sessions with a psychologist, but that doesn’t happen in every case. If you are a younger couple, you may have the opportunity to be taken under the tutelage of what is known as a mentor couple, just to help you make the most of the course.

bride and groom in the church garden
Photographer: @evalindouglass

Is a Catholic Marriage Certificate a Legal Document?

While laws vary from country to country, generally, it is a sacramental document that needs to be attested and verified by the relevant civil authorities. However, it does offer proof of marriage. Therefore, in some countries, it is common for a civil official to be present at the ceremony so that the couple can sign those legal documents first and then proceed.

What You Can Wear

You are better off straying from a strapless number towards a more modest cut in your wedding gown for a church wedding. You can also wear a shawl or wedding cape to cover your shoulders as that is fashionable, especially if the fabric complements your wedding dress design. Generally, gowns that are deep V-necks or deep back cuts are frowned upon, so opt for a more classic and chic style that is both modest and stylish.

catholic wedding requirements ceremony in the church
Photographer: @davidbastianoni

Music, Pictures, And Cheer

Everyone has to be quite solemn in the church so even though it’s your wedding you probably won’t be able to play loud music or shout a lot. Leave the ‘shouting from the rooftops’ part for when the ceremony is over! There may be a choir in the church to add melody to the proceedings or an organist, but you definitely cannot have a DJ there or your favorite playlist of show tunes.

Remember, if you wish to sing a song yourself or a family member wants to sing one for the congregation, you need to have the express permission of the priest who is officiating (even for religious songs or hymns).

If you’ve hired a photographer you may have to ask them to take a bit of a backseat as a Catholic marriage ceremony must not resemble a photoshoot, and everyone must observe the sanctity of the proceedings. Your photographer can take pictures silently from the side or wait for the right moment, so there is no disturbance.

Many priests prefer to brief professionals like photographers on the etiquette of the church, so expect a no flash photography rule. Photographers may also only be allowed to a specific area in the church.

Falling in love and finding your soulmate is definitely one of the most joyous times in our lives. And when the time comes to make it official and join your two souls together as one in holy matrimony, it’s a celebration. Yes! There may be more hoops to jump through for a Catholic marriage, but it’s your faith, what you stand on, and it should be cherished, respected and celebrated as well.

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