In recent years, more and more Australians are choosing Greece for their nuptials.
The majority of those having their wedding in Greece are of Greek descent, but even in that case there are certain rules of thumb and boxes that need to be ticked before taking the leap.
One does not need to be a citizen or a resident of Greece to get married there. However, if marrying a Greek citizen or resident, they must hold a valid residence permit.
As with most European countries, in Greece people can get legally married in a civil and/or religious ceremony as well as have a combination of both. The first is performed by an officiant or celebrant, while a minister or priest performs religious ceremonies.
Even though civil unions have been permitted between same-sex couples since 2015, same-sex civil marriages are still not legally recognised in Greece as the Greek Orthodox Church opposes gay marriage.
Couples aged younger than 18 can only get married if they receive special dispensation from a court, which also requires parental permission. These are the general rules, however, legal requirements may vary depending on the municipality, the church or local council the wedding is meant to take place at.
One of the main things to keep in mind before organising your marriage in Greece is that there can be a long wait from the day of the application for permission to get married and the actual day; the wait can last from a few days to a few months depending on the workload or the popularity of the municipality or church. Usually, for civil weddings, local authorities take up to a week to respond.
Even if one manages to escape the bureaucracy, there is a necessary custom without which a marriage is not considered legal. Before tying the knot, couples need to publish an announcement in a local newspaper stating their intent to marry at least eight days in advance of applying for a marriage license.
To apply, couples need to get specific documentation together that will not be dated more than three months prior to the wedding date (to prevent issues of impediment to marry).
Applicants can do so themselves or hire a Greek-based wedding planner. Once issued, the license will remain valid for six months. Within that time-frame the couple must submit a joint application to the mayor stating and confirming the wedding ceremony date and location of choice.
DOCUMENTS NEEDED FOR CIVIL WEDDING
- Valid passport photocopies (for both parties).
- Birth certificates with the Apostille stamp certifying the copy. Any foreign legal documents which are to be used in Greece must be officially legalised with the Hague Convention Apostille. Apostille is a stamp, certifying that the document is original and legal. This is applicable if your country has signed the 1961 Hague Convention. If your country has not signed the 1961 Hague Convention, then you can verify all legal documents at the Foreign Ministry or the Greek Embassy.
- An official Apostille translated into Greek, which can be certified by a lawyer, a foreign ministry’s translation department, a certified translator or the Greek consulate from your home country.
- Proof of freedom to marry, or affidavit of marriage, notarised, in both English and Greek for both parties.
- A decree of absolution of previous marriage or marriages, if applicable.
- A copy of the local newspaper where the intent to marry was published.
- Official document from the court or police records if there has been a name change.
- Certificate of adoption if applicable.
* For civil services, couples will also need two witnesses present for the marriage to be valid. They must have passports or Greek identifying documents with them. Civil ceremonies are usually conducted in Greek, so a translator may be required.
Civil wedding fees:
- €7 for affidavit of marriage
- Between €200 and €500 for documentation costs
- Around €100 for translation services, if required
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The documents needed to perform a religious wedding in Greece are essentially the same as with a civil ceremony, if the couple is of Christian faith but more acts are required.
If the bride or groom is of another religious dogma (not Orthodox but still Christian) an Orthodox wedding can be performed, but the non-orthodox party, must obtain a certificate of Christian Baptism and an official statement that the children from that marriage will be baptised Christian Orthodox.To perform a Catholic wedding, parties must obtain a written permission from their bishop following a pastoral referral, saying that they give you their permission to have a Catholic wedding Ceremony outside of your parish stating the exact location (Athens, Mykonos, Santorini, Crete, Zakynthos, Kerkira, etc ) according to Canon 1115″ of the Codex Juris Canonici.
Couples will also need a certificate stating that they have completed the “Pre-Cana” instructions.
In Greece, it is not possible to have a religious wedding ceremony unless both parties are baptised as Christians.
Following the ceremony (civil or religious), it is the couple’s legal obligation to obtain a marriage certificate within 40 days of getting married, or else a fine will incur. Couples can file a registration form with the Office of Vital Statistics in the municipality where the marriage took place. Marriages that aren’t registered aren’t considered valid.
To find out more or for further specifications go to https://greece.embassy.gov.au/athn/marriages.html
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