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    Find out what documents you need to legally wed in the Boot
    Our Paesani

    by Francesca Di Meglio


    Antonio & Francesca at the municipal building
    As many of you know, I recently gave "parole" or "word", which means I technically got married in the civil service that is required ahead of a church wedding in Italy. When I got engaged to my fiancé Antonio Gerenini, a native of Ischia in Naples, Italy, I had no idea what kind of work lay ahead for me. There are all sorts of documents and papers that need to be prepared for foreigners before they can legally marry in Italy.

    My journey began at the Italian Consulate in Newark, N.J. Every Friday for a month, my mom and I headed there to put the wheels in motion on the paperwork. People would camp out there for the morning hours when the Consulate is open to the public. I tried calling and sending e-mail ahead of time to make appointments and ask questions to no avail. Sometimes, I would only require a one-word answer from the staff, but I'd still have to wait four hours. In the end, I managed to get what I needed.

    First, my parents had to go to Trenton, N.J., (I could have gone but I had to work during the week) to pick up my long-form birth certificate. This must be done in your state capital and not in the city in which you were born. In Trenton, they also had to pay for and order an Apostille seal, which is another sheet of paper that covers the birth certificate. Then, I had to have this document translated by a translator at the Italian Consulate, who is approved by the Italian government.

    I also needed to find two witnesses, who were not related to me and preferably carried an Italian passport, to swear that I was single and there was nothing stopping me from getting married. The witnesses and I headed to the Consulate in Newark and signed on the dotted line in front of the lawyer in charge of these kinds of documents.

    As soon as I arrived in Italy in early June, I had to go to the American Consulate in Naples. There, I needed to sign and pay for another document that showed my residency, my passport number, who I was marrying, and a sworn statement that I was single and there were no legal reasons why I could not marry. I made a second trip to Naples to get a special stamp placed on this document, which cost about 14 euro as well.

    Antonio joined the mix at this point because we had to go to see the priest who would marry us. He needed to see these papers and have us sign even more papers. He also needed to see paperwork showing that I had been baptized, confirmed and had made First Communion, which I brought from my church in the States.

    When we met with the priest, he talked to us first together. Then, he separated us and interviewed each of us. He asked us things, such as whether we planned on having a family and raising our children Catholic. After the interviews, we signed more documents and essentially gave "parole" or "word" to the church, which must be done before you go to the "comune" or "municipal building" in Ischia Porto, the town where we would be getting married in church in October.

    Finally, we could bring all this paperwork to the municipal building. When we did, the representative of the government there was impressed that I had all the correct and necessary documents. At our civil service two weeks later, in fact, he began by saying that I was the first American to get all the correct documents on the first try.

    The civil service is rather interesting. You used to have to bring witnesses with you. Now, it doesn't matter, but some relatives and close friends can still join you - and ours certainly did. The government representative read the contract that we had to sign out loud to the group. It explained that we could not be married to others and that we had 180 days or until our church wedding to change our minds about going through with this. The document also explains that outsiders - including Antonio's ex-girlfriends, as the government rep jokingly pointed out - had 11 days to object to our nuptials.

    When the service was over, we came outside and our family and friends threw Jordan almonds at our feet for good luck, and they handed me a beautiful bouquet of flowers. We then purchased pastries and coffee for everyone, even the folks in the comune, which is a must according to etiquette rules.

    All I have to do before the church wedding is get another two Catholic witnesses at my American church to sign a paper for the Italian priest who will marry us that once again states I am single and have not been married in church. After that, we're going to the chapel and we're gonna get married - in Italy!

    Di Meglio is the guide to Newlyweds for About.com, where you can find advice on everything from maintaining romance to saving money.

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