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July 19, 2021

How to get married in Europe

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In a previous post we covered the factors to consider when planning a destination wedding in Europe. Before you get caught up in the romanticism of it all, let’s discuss in more detail the legalities of actually how to get married in Europe. In this post we will cover the types of ceremony you can choose for your wedding and the specific legal requirements to get married in Spain, France and Greece. We hope you find this helpful! 

– The Chancey Charm Team

Wedding ceremony set up, with rose petal aisle, chairs and florals and a wedding arch. How to get married in Europe.
Belmond Caruso Italian Gardens. Photography By: Tyson Sadlo

Religious Ceremony

Most european countries offer Religious (Catholic, Orthodox, Christian, Jewish, etc ) ceremonies. European Countries are very religious, so if it’s a church wedding that you want, you will have to apply beforehand for the paperwork approval.

Civil Ceremony

Civil Ceremonies usually take place in the Town Hall by an official and all your documentation has to be translated into the language of the country you intend to get married in. You all also need a translator during the ceremony and two witnesses. 

Blessings and Ceremonials

Ceremonials and blessings can be done at venues, however it is not legally binding and should you consider having a blessing, it is best that you have already obtained your marriage license either in the USA or in the relevant European Country Town Hall. It also gives you more freedom with when and where your symbolic ceremony or blessing can take place.

Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo, Sicily. How to get married in Europe.
Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo, Sicily. Photography By: Tyson Sadlo

Let’s break down the legal requirements for getting married in Spain, France and Greece:

For A Wedding In Spain:

For your wedding in Spain there are only two ways you can be legally married. One is getting married through the Catholic church, however one of you has to be Catholic. Two, a Civil marriage  where your or your partner has been a Spanish resident for two years. 

For A Wedding In France:

A civil ceremony is the only legally binding type of ceremony possible in France. All marriages in France must be performed by a French civil authority before any religious ceremony takes place. Civil ceremonies can only take place in the Town Hall. There is a residency period of 40 days immediately prior to a civil ceremony taking place. You may only have a religious ceremony after a civil ceremony has taken place, either in France or in your own country. 

For A Wedding In Greece:

Marriages are not legal in Greece until registered, so don’t skip this important step.  You must record your marriage at the Vital Statistics Office of the city where the marriage is performed.  All marriages, civil or religious, should be registered within 40 days following the ceremony in order to be considered legal.

All your documentation will need to be translated and sealed or stamped. When applying for your marriage license it is usually valid for 6 months but you will need to collect it in person at the Town Hall of the city or town you intend to get married in. 

*Portugal, Greece, and Italy do not require you to be a resident of the country in order to get legally married.

Bouquet of flowers send on a concrete pillar in Rome, Italy. How to get married in Europe.
Rome Flowers. Photography By: Andreas K Georgiou

And that my friends, is why you need a wedding planner to help guide you through the process of having a destination wedding in Europe!  (PS – We’ve also seen clients do a quick civil ceremony in the states, followed by the religious ceremony + reception abroad.)

Please note, we are by no means legal advisors and this information is only for reference. For more information it’s best to contact the nearest embassy or consulate. 

To start planning your wedding with a professional, contact our team today!

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How to get married in Europe

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Chancey Charm

Behind this blog is a team of experienced wedding planners, in destination wedding locations across the country. With over 200 published weddings and editorials under our brand, we’ve served 750+ happy couples since 2011. We’ve been named a top planner by Southern Living Magazine and featured on Martha Stewart. This is our place to trusted planning advice with YOU, so you can plan without the stress.  Our founder, Sarah Chancey, also has a heart for educating new planners, so you’ll be sure to see some of her content here as well.  Cheers!

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