Requirements for symbolic catholic wedding Ceremonies in italy
Special thanks to Colleen Kennedy for this outline prior to our wedding :)
First thing's first: If the church is Roman Catholic, one of you must be baptized and confirmed Catholic. Secondly, the earliest you can start this process is 6 months from your wedding date (because that's when the baptism and confirmation certificates need to be reinstated by your home parishes), but it's good to meet with your priest as early as possible to make sure you're aligned on requirements and timeline expectations.
ECCLESIASTICAL DOCUMENTS REQUIRED from you, your priest, and your local bishop
1. RESPONSIBILITIES OF YOUR HOME PARISH PRIEST:
To prepare a packet with a formal letter on parish letterhead stationery acknowledging/including:
- He knows you & your fiancé personally and that you have come to him willingly to enter into the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony through the wedding blessing administered by the Italian priest.
- He grants them permission for their wedding ceremony/blessing to be performed on the date at your chosen Ceremony parish by the Celebrant (include church name, celebrant's name, entire address).
- The couple has fulfilled the PRE CANA requirements of your local Diocese and includes documentation for the completion or fulfillment of the PRE CANA coursework.
- Cites in the letter that one or both of you received the Roman Catholic sacraments of Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation. **These must be reinstated and signed by a member of the church where it occurred within 6 months of the wedding (or validated on official parish letterhead if original documentation cannot be obtained)**
- A signed copy of the Prenuptial Inquiry Form that he completed with the couple.
- If the couple has been married civilly in the United States, a copy of the civil marriage certificate should also be included.
Then, The permission letter along with the required documentation must be given to the Bishop in your Diocese (the priest takes care of this). Once the Bishop has written an approval letter and stamped and sealed all documents, the packet can be mailed to the Italian Curia nearest to where you're getting married. For us, it was in Milan.
2. responsibilities of the BISHOP
Note: You do not contact or directly work with the Bishop; this is to inform you of the steps he needs to complete, so this may be helpful to review with your priest who is completing the paperwork.
- The Bishop must also write a letter on his letterhead stating that there is no impediment for (your name) and (fiance's name) to receive the marriage blessing at (your ceremony location) in (city, country) on (date) by the celebrant and the bishop concurs with the approval of his parish priest since the couple has fulfilled the requirements of the relevant Roman Catholic Diocese.
- All forwarded documents are to be stamped and sealed by the bishop’s office including the Pre Nuptial Inquiry Form, Pre Cana class completion certificate and all sacrament documentation.
The packet is then mailed by the bishop’s office to the Italian Curia address listed on page one of this outline.
Tip: It would be helpful to make copies made of all letters and documents before mailing just in case something gets lost, so ask your priest if he doesn't mind doing so!
3. responsibilities of the couple
- Attend Pre Cana courses with your partner
- Each person requests a reinstated baptismal and confirmation certificate from parishes where the sacraments took place
- Set up a meeting with your priest to review the above requirements and do the initial interview ensuring you're both there at will
- Obtain copies of your birth certificates
- Possibility: If the priest does not know you well, you may need to gather 4 witnesses (2 each) to sign an affidavit acknowledging that they know you and are willingly entering this marriage.
I know this sounds complicated, but if your priest has done a wedding out of the country, he will have a general idea of the requirements and can walk you through it. American weddings have to go through a similar process, but brides aren't likely to micromanage each step since it's common practice for the priest. Since there are a lot of opportunities for wires to get crossed handling all of this through snail mail, I think it's best for the couple and the priest to have full knowledge of all requirements when it comes to destination weddings to avoid mistakes.
Questions? Don't hesitate to contact us!