First, a bit of history….
Although Italy has traditionally lagged behind the rest of Western Europe with regards to LGBT rights, there have been several positive changes in the Italian legal system over the past couple of years that have brought the status of Italy’s same sex couples closer to that of heterosexual married couples.
Gay Marriage is still not legal in Italy, but as of the 21st of July 2016, same sex couples in Italy can enter into a Civil Union, which imparts a great deal of the same right and privileges that are afforded to married couples.
This new law was brought about by a great deal of hard work and protest, especially by the Senator Monica Cirrina’ who was instrumental in the passing of the law through the Italian Parliament. The first same sex marriage in Italy was celebrated on the 24th of July, in Bologna, one of Italy’s most liberal cities.
Update: As of 2019, same sex marriages are still not performed in Italy, however for the first time an Italian court has recognised the marriage of a lesbian couple who had gotten married in France. Public opinion in the country is slowly but surely shifting towards a greater acceptance of LGBT unions and activists are hopeful that same sex marriage will eventually become legal. The current political climate is not especially LGBT friendly, but that should not put you off pursuing your dream of tying the knot in Italy.
Things to know
Although many aspects of planning a same sex wedding in Italy mirror those of a heterosexual wedding, there are some additional steps you will have to consider before you tie the knot in Italy.
For example, you will have to see if your Italian Same Sex Union will be officially recognised in your home country (you can find out more about the laws between different states here). If it won’t, you may wish to consider a symbolic wedding instead of a legal ceremony (we will talk a bit more about this later).
TIP:You might also need to be a bit more cautious when choosing a location for your wedding, as you may unfortunately receive a negative reaction to your partnership in some of the more traditional parts of the country. Of course this is a generalisation, and many small villages will be more than happy to welcome you. A good rule of thumb is to go and visit the town you wish to get married in before committing to anything, and see if you feel comfortable there with your same sex partner.
Photo: Cristiano Ostinelli
Gay Wedding Ideas
One of the most exciting aspects of planning an LGBT wedding is that you can literally create your own rules. For example, when it comes to your wedding apparel, you can choose to go the traditional route or opt for something a bit more outside the box. For example, some lesbian brides may prefer a stylish tuxedo to the classic white wedding dress. You can play around with all of the traditional wedding "rules" and create your own definition of the perfect wedding day.
Who should be the officiant?
Unless you are having a legal civil union in an Italian town hall, you will be able to choose your own officiant for your ceremony. Why not opt for a close friend or family member to help you celebrate your union in front of all of your loved ones?
Just as many brides decide to take on their husbands last name, many LGBT couples choose to symbolise their union by taking on a new surname. One popular option is to create a new hyphenated surname that you can both share.
Support LGBT run/friendly Vendors
One great way to encorporate the Italian LGBT community in your big day is too ensure that wherever possible you use services provided by LGBT/LGBT friendly vendors. A quick google search should enable you to identify these businesses.
Gay Wedding Planner
Naturally, when the new law was passed allowing same sex civil unions in Italy, many companies decided to fill the new gap in the market that this change presented. As such, there are now many wedding planners who specialise in organising the perfect Italian wedding day for LGBT couples, and are well equipped to deal with the additional challenges that couples can face when organising their same sex unions.
When it comes to your same sex union in Italy, you should really take the idea of hosting a symbolic ceremony into consideration. It is much easier and will require much less documentation and tedious bureaucracy.
To get some great ideas for a symbolic ceremony, check out this past article.
Same Sex Spouses:
Italy’s papers and television stations have been quick to pick up on the stories of the LGBT couples who are finally being allowed to celebrate their love for one another and affirm their commitment to each other. Here are just some of their stories:
Elena & Deborah
Elena & Deborah were the first lesbian couple to celebrate their civil union in the Northern Italian city of Bologna, well known as one of Italy’s most liberal and open minded cities. They celebrated their partnership at the town hall of Castel San Pietro.
Lino & Vincenzo
Lino and Vincenzo were the first same sex couple to celebrate their union on the island of Sicily (find out more about how to plan the perfect Sicilian wedding in thispast article). The union took place in the town hall of Pace del Mela, a town in the province of Messina.
Neil Patrick Harris & Daniel Burtka
This famous couple will be instantly recognisable to fans of the American sitcom “How I met your Mother”. Despite playing an irrepressible womaniser on the hit show, in real life actor Neil Patrick Harris is happily married to his husband David Burtka. The couple have two children together, who played an integral part in their beautiful wedding in Perugia.
So there we have it! I hope this article will help you while you are planning your civil union in Italy! Have you already celebrated your same sex union in the bel paese? I’d love to hear about your experiences!