Stuck in marriage limbo
December 15, 2010 1:37 PM   Subscribe

How do I (from the U.S) secure documentation proving that my destination wedding in Italy actually took place?

My wife and I were married on 18 June 2010 in Rome. Prior to the religious ceremony, we visited the U.S. Embassy in Rome to present identification and to fill out marriage related paperwork. At the wedding ceremony, there was another documentation step which required our signatures and the signatures of witnesses. I was told by my wedding planner that they would file the necessary documents with the ‘government’, and that the process would result in our marriage being legally recognized both in Italy and the U.S.. Since then, we have been waiting to receive our marriage certificate/documents in the mail from…..someone. The wedding planner has not been responsive to my messages requesting help. Can anyone with knowledge of how the process works suggest where I should begin in my quest to follow up and secure documentation of my marriage? (The end of 2010 is approaching, and I need it for legal and tax purposes).
posted by mockjovial to Law & Government (14 answers total)
"In general, marriages which are legally performed and valid abroad are also legally valid in the United States." At my destination wedding many years ago in Scotland, we received the marriage certificate but we were not required to include the certificate in our taxes. The website directs you to the attorney general for your state if you have any additional questions regarding authentication. Congrats on your wedding!
posted by mochapickle at 1:48 PM on December 15, 2010

I'm an idiot: US State Department link.
posted by mochapickle at 1:48 PM on December 15, 2010

Are you seeking documentation for Italy or for the US? Or both?
posted by misterbrandt at 2:05 PM on December 15, 2010

Response by poster: Right now, my goal is to be able to establish in the U.S. that I am in fact married.
posted by mockjovial at 2:06 PM on December 15, 2010

Best answer: On the face of it, your question seems to be "How can I force the Italian government or one of its subnational governments to issue me marriage documentation within the next two weeks?" The answer here is probably that you can't.

But what exactly do you need it for? You don't have to submit documentation of your marriage to the IRS; you just file as married-filing-jointly.

If you really REALLY need marriage documentation by 12/31, I'd try to make an appointment with a Cook County judge to explain the situation and ask for a legal Illinois marriage because you're worried that you will never receive documentation of your Italian one and/or that it might have been invalid somehow (or else you'd have gotten your certificate).
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:37 PM on December 15, 2010

It will involve less hassle and be much quicker to just go down to the local courthouse and get married again by a magistrate.
posted by Flood at 3:32 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm pretty sure that you can't just go get married *again*.

Have you contacted the US Embassy? Perhaps they'd be able to explain the local process and where you should direct your queries.
posted by kirstk at 5:52 PM on December 15, 2010

did you get married at the campidoglio? (town hall?) If so, or many other similar agencies can get you a marriage certificate for $50 in 3 days, and i guess they should be able to fedex it as well.

google "certificati roma" for more agencies.
posted by 3mendo at 6:20 PM on December 15, 2010

I'm pretty sure that you can't just go get married *again*.

What?? Don't be silly. Of course you can, as long as its to the same person.
posted by Floydd at 6:23 PM on December 15, 2010

I have no advice regarding the pursuit of your marriage certificate but I think ROU has the right of it, tax-wise. My wife and I were married a few years back in Sri Lanka (and admittedly have a Sri Lankan marriage certificate and a copy in English) but when we came back we were told by a Bronx county clerk that that was really all we needed since the US recognizes Sri Lankan weddings. We started filing our taxes as married then and no one has ever asked us to substantiate our marriage with any documentation. Hell, I think the two of us are the only people outside of Sri Lanka who've ever even seen the license.
posted by JaredSeth at 7:45 PM on December 15, 2010

If you're Catholics, you might find the staff at the Santa Susanna Church helpful: their website contains a lot of information about marrying in Rome (although admittedly not addressing your specific issue) as well as contact details, so you could ask them why the delay, if it's par for the course, etc. It might just be that the Italian authorities are generally very slow about this kind of thing.
posted by aqsakal at 12:35 AM on December 16, 2010

Best answer: I'm pretty sure that you can't just go get married *again*.

Yeah, but if you explain to the judge (or other qualified official) that you're now concerned* that the firm that set up your wedding may have cheaped out somehow and not actually performed the legalities, or may have been a scam in some other way, or simply been incompetent, and that you'd like to have a wedding you *know* is legal in case your Italian one wasn't, you might get some traction.

*How concerned are you? Probably not very. But can you honestly say that you're really absolutely 100% certain that the package you received included a fully legal wedding? And you have to admit that your lack of paperwork back is at least the tiniest bit suspicious.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:35 AM on December 16, 2010

we visited the U.S. Embassy in Rome to present identification and to fill out marriage related paperwork.

Did you get copies of these documents? What kind of paperwork are we talking about here?
posted by banshee at 11:11 AM on December 16, 2010

Response by poster: Thank you for your answers. I did email the Embassy, and here is their response:

Thank you for your email regarding how to obtain your Italian marriage certificate and make it valid in the U.S.

Please note that a foreign marriage that is valid in the country where it is performed is automatically valid in the US provided that it has the APOSTILLE on it.

Your Italian marriage certificate is sufficient to prove your marriage, once legalized through the 'apostille' procedure by the Legalization office of the local Italian Prefettura. Since you had a religious ceremony, the priest who celebrated it should have taken care of both the marriage certificate and the APOSTILLE.

Information on how to obtain your Italian marriage is available at:

For information on the APOSTILLE and how to obtain it, please visit:

As the US Embassy cannot obtain documents on your behalf you may wish to consider retaining the services of an attorney. A list of local English speaking attorneys is available at the following website:


American Citizen Services

Rome, Italy

It seems like our wedding coordinator may have over promised under delivered. Bummer. I may try to contact her one last time, but at this point, the best path forward is probably to just cut my losses and head to the Cook County courthouse to get 'officially' married, as suggested by ROU_Xenophobe.

As always, I appreciate the input of the hive mind.
posted by mockjovial at 7:42 AM on December 17, 2010

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