|Photo by Simone Checcheti|
After a love affair with the city of Rome for over a decade, the city provided the optimal location for my wedding. Rome lived up to its expectation of being a bureaucratic and customer service nightmare; but after a year of planning, several months preparing document after document, and innumerable hours waiting in offices, the event served as a reminder of just how much I love this place, even when I am determined to hate it.
For anyone from abroad getting married in Italy, be prepared to compile a long list of documents and spend more time waiting in offices than what will amount to your wedding day. You will be required to make several trips to the Embassy, local legal offices and the tribunal with witnesses in tow. Each office will tell you something different.
Then there were the traumatic episodes in dress boutiques around the Italian capital after which I ended up getting my wedding gown at an Umbrian monastery.
One of the biggest challenges I consistently found during the planning and filing of my paperwork is what I believe will plague the rest of my life in Italy: the predicament of the birthplace. Italian officials seem unqualified to read American passports. I repeatedly had to explain why my birth certificate reads "Buffalo" and my passport reads "New York, USA". That New York is a state, in addition to being a city, and Buffalo is a city in that state. Several clerks refused to accept this and process my documents.
If you do not plan to have a Catholic wedding, you are required to go to the City Hall for a 10 minute ceremony administered by the mayor or a representative of his. To book this hall, you must go 6 months in advance and wait in line for hours to make your request. But the documents a foreigner is required to put together are valid only for 6 months. There is high demand for this hall, because it is one of only 3 locations where a non-Catholic wedding can be legally performed. As part of the Lateran Pact signed by Mussolini, Catholic weddings count legally for state weddings. Any other religious denomination or civil wedding must be performed at the city hall.
On the day of the ceremony, when I exited the "sala rossa" of the city hall entering Michelangelo's piazza atop the Capitol Hill, home to Rome's oldest settlement dating back to the 13th Century B.C., I felt privileged. To have celebrated such a significant life event in a place of such historic significance, all the administrative drama was more than worth it. With 20 of my closest family and friends at my side, I had views of the entire city of Rome, its eclectic blend of buildings testifying to an eternal presence, and its beautiful church tops and ruins and every glance.
It is a medieval tradition that citizens getting married in Rome must publish their names in front of the city hall building for 7 days allowing for anyone to protest your union. Thankfully this is now accomplished online.
Our reception was held in a medieval castle about 15 miles outside Rome. Despite some disorganization Castello di Lunghezza was the perfect location for a winter wedding. The staff had forgotten we made several visits and booked the hall 9 months earlier, and later told me when I made the appointment to pay the deposit 3 months beforehand that it would be under reconstruction all winter. Such archaic organizational methods I suppose are to be expected for an authentically historic and romantic setting. The castle was built in the 8th century and became property of the Papacy in the 13th Century. Our non-denominational Christian ceremony was officiated by my dear friend Rev. Tanya Halkyard, ironically in the Pope's former private chapel.
The dinner was catered by Angelucci catering who were incredibly efficient in preparing an elaborate 4 course dinner for over 100 people in a kitchen the size of my bedroom, and scurrying through
It was a challenge finding a balance between American wedding traditions of dancing and speeches and the Italian tradition of eating and more eating. We had a lot of all of the above. With Andrea Loco on DJ, we turned the stone walls and wooden ceiling of the castle into a soiree, burning off our many calories earned from a large buffet of prosciutto, porchetta and an array of fresh and aged cheeses, a seated dinner of 2 first courses and 2 second courses and a room reserved for dessert with all my Italian favorites...fried dough, freshly filled cannoli, tiramisu and Mont Blanc wedding cake.
I am happy to share with you our wedding announcement published in the Buffalo News, highlighting the tremendous and generous efforts of friends and strangers of my hometown that helped in the un-romantic but very Roman process of planning my wedding in Rome.