Greece, the land of glorious sunsets and idyllic beaches, is a dream destination for couples planning to exchange their vows. This southern European country’s breathtaking scenery, vibrant culture, and ancient history make it an ideal location for weddings. However, arranging a destination wedding in Greece comes with its own set of legal complexities. This comprehensive guide will assist you in navigating the legal landscape, focusing on the crucial elements that you need to be aware of while planning your nuptials in Greece.
Understanding the legalities in Greece
Greek wedding laws dictate that both parties should be over 18 years of age and not closely related by blood. Greece acknowledges both civil and religious marriages, with each having its unique set of rules and requirements.
Civil weddings in Greece: What you need to know
For foreign couples wishing to get married in Greece, civil weddings are the most popular choice. The legal requirements for these weddings involve submitting a set of important documents to the local Town Hall or the President of the Community:
- Full Birth Certificates: You will need to provide your full birth certificates, issued within the last six months and authenticated with an ‘Apostille’ stamp.
- Certificates of No Impediment: These certificates confirm that there are no legal obstacles to your intended marriage.
- Divorce Certificate: If either party has been previously married, a final divorce decree must be presented.
- Passport: Both parties need to furnish their valid passports.
📝 It’s worth noting that all documents that are not in Greek must be officially translated. For instance, UK citizens can get this translation done by the Greek Consulate in the UK or by the Translation Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Athens.
Getting your marriage recognised in your country of origin
After getting married in Greece, couples often need to register the marriage in their home country to ensure its recognition. The process can vary depending on your home country’s regulations, but here’s a general outline of the steps you might need to follow:
- Obtain a marriage certificate: After your wedding in Greece, you will be issued a Greek marriage certificate. If this certificate is in Greek, you’ll likely need to have it translated into English or the language of your home country.
- Apostille stamp: To ensure that the Greek marriage certificate is valid and recognised in your home country, you’ll often need to obtain an ‘Apostille’ stamp. This can usually be done in Greece before you leave, at the local office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Apostille certifies the document for international use under the terms of the 1961 Hague Convention.
- Registration in your home country: Once you have the Apostille stamped marriage certificate, you should register the marriage in your home country.
As the process can be different for each country and sometimes even for different states or regions within a country, it’s advisable to consult with a legal expert or contact your local government office for exact details. Here are useful links :
- Getting Married in Greece – U.S. Embassy
- Greece: notarial and documentary services (UK)
- Mariage en Grèce – Ambassade de France en Grèce
Religious weddings: Rules and regulations
Greek orthodox weddings
For those considering a Greek Orthodox wedding, one party must be a member of the Greek Orthodox Church, a denomination of the Christian faith. As part of the requirements, you need to provide a baptism certificate. This signifies that you have been baptised in the faith and are an active member of the church.
▶️ Read also: A journey through European wedding traditions
It’s also important to note that the Greek Orthodox Church does not usually perform weddings during certain periods of the year such as Lent or Advent, which are considered holy periods for fasting and reflection. Therefore, it’s crucial to coordinate the dates of your wedding with your chosen church to avoid such periods.
If either of the couple has been previously married and divorced, they need to provide a church divorce decree (in addition to the civil one) to get permission to remarry in the Greek Orthodox Church. Moreover, Greek Orthodox Weddings must be performed by a priest in the Orthodox Church, and they cannot be conducted outside.
Catholic weddings are a little more flexible. Couples don’t need to be residents of Greece or members of a local parish to get married in a Catholic Church in Greece. However, at least one of the couple must be a Catholic, and they need to provide proof of having attended pre-marital counselling – this is often provided by their home parish.
You will need to submit baptism certificates for both parties, and if either party is a widower or divorcee, a death certificate or church annulment of the previous marriage is necessary.
Like Greek Orthodox weddings, Catholic weddings also require the ceremony to be performed within the confines of the church by a Catholic priest.
Notice period and residency requirement
Once the required documents are submitted, there is a mandatory notice period of at least 8 days, which can extend up to a maximum of three months. While there’s no residency requirement to get married in Greece, given the time it takes to process the documents and the notice period, it is recommended to arrive in Greece at least a week before your planned wedding date.
Other essential aspects to consider
- Witnesses: You will need to have two witnesses present on your wedding day who can provide their passports.
- Wedding Planner: Navigating through the legalities can be complex. Hence, hiring a local wedding planner can be beneficial. They can guide you through the process, assist in translation, and also help with planning other aspects of your wedding.
- Location Choice: Different islands in Greece might have varying processing times for documents, especially during the busy wedding season. Hence, choosing your location wisely can help ensure a smoother experience.
A destination wedding in Greece is undoubtedly a romantic and picturesque choice. Its stunning landscapes, coupled with the country’s warm hospitality, create the perfect setting for your special day. Understanding the legal requirements for a wedding in Greece and effectively navigating the associated processes is the first step in ensuring that your big day is as magical as you’ve dreamed. It might seem overwhelming at first, but breaking it down into smaller tasks or investing in a local wedding planner can make the journey much smoother.