Planning to get married this year? Then why not do that in Greece. Destination weddings are pretty much anything a future-to-be bride wants provided she likes to travel. The romantic Greek islands represent the perfect place to have your dream wedding and then spend your dream honeymoon.
The easiest way to handle a destination wedding is, of course, to hire a wedding organizer. While technically you can do all the arrangements yourself, unless you have a lot of free time and speak Greek, you should consider at least hiring someone to deal with the documents in Greece. Make sure the company (person) is based in Greece and they have the proper connections.
Both civil and religious ceremonies can be performed in Greece. Foreign citizens may be married either in a civil ceremony by a mayor or in a religious ceremony by a priest. Remember that Greece is predominantly Christian Orthodox and you will have to obey all the rules – as an Orthodox myself, let me tell you that yes, the rules are very strict – if you want a religious ceremony. Obviously eloping is not a good idea and you can pretty much forget about.
There are no residency requirements for the foreign citizens wanting to get married in Greece but the bureaucratic procedure may take several weeks to complete before a marriage certificate may be obtained. Marriage licenses can be obtained prior to getting to Greece and are, in general, accepted in Greece (make sure to ask though). American marriage licenses are accepted provided they do not contain any restrictive statements. It is recommended that the marriage license be endorsed with the Apostle stamp in accordance with the 1961 Hague Convention.
In general, here’s what any foreign citizens need for the civil ceremony in Greece:
- birth certificate translated into Greek
- an official statement stating that the future bride and groom are not presently married
- photocopies of the passports
The marriage license is issued seven days after the papers are submitted and is valid for six months. Before the license is issued, both the future bride and groom should jointly submit another application to the Mayor, containing the date of the ceremony.
Two witnesses – both having either a passport or Greek ID card – must attend the wedding ceremony. Also, you will need an interpreter as the ceremony is held in Greek.
The marriage certificate is issued within 3 days of the wedding. After you were given the marriage certificate, make sure to register your marriage at the Bureau of Vital Statistics. If you forget to do that, your marriage won’t be valid.
Technically that’s what the law says. However, there can be situations when you’ll get the papers later, so make sure to ask around: either your contact in Greece or someone who got married in Greece.
If you want to get married in an Orthodox ceremony, either the bride or groom should be Orthodox. To prove that you need to bring a Baptism Certificate signed and stamped by your local parish priest, of course translated into Greek. Also, the Orthodox Church must issue the letter of “celibacy” which gives you the consent and freedom to marry. Don’t forget to tell your local Orthodox priest that you want to get married abroad.
Make sure to talk to your priest before planning because there might be more requirements (including the dates when wedding ceremonies are not allowed to be performed).
Do not forget
When you get home translate all your papers into your state language. Also make sure to register your marriage with the local authorities as well.
Congratulation on the upcoming event and have a lovely time at your wedding in Greece!