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Getting married in Greece isn’t an easy do. It’s worth it – you’ll end up with a beautiful wedding that people will never forget and it’ll get brought up anytime anyone you know sticks Mamma Mia on. You’ll forever be associated with Meryl Streep. Before you start practicing smashing plates up, though, there’s some serious stuff you need to know – here’s a guide on how to get legally married in Greece.
First things first, you’ve got to get the necessary documents. Getting married in Greece isn’t as easy as that all-singing, all-dancing movie would have you think, believe it or not. Along with a passport, both partners need:
- A certified copy of their birth certificate, with Apostille (and a certified copy translated into Greek)
- A Certificate of No Impediment (CNI) with Apostille (and a copy translated into Greek)
- If either partner has been married before, you’ll need proof the previous marriage is over – either a death certificate or a Decree Absolute (divorce document) with Apostille (and a copy translated into Greek)
- If you’ve changed your name with a Deed Poll, a copy of the Deed (and a copy translated into Greek)
- A copy of the local newspaper where the wedding notice was published (if applicable)
Where do I get them?
You’ll need to have your documents legalised first, and then translated by an Embassy approved translator. Then it needs to be verified at the Greek Embassy in London. Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? That’s ‘cos it is.
Don’t worry, though. Just for you, we’ve created a Greek Marriage Package – a one-stop-shop for all your legalisation needs. We’ll sort the legalisation of both you and your partner’s birth (or adoption) certificates and CNIs, as well as having them officially translated and verified. We’ll take care of everything for you. If you’re planning on getting married in Greece, it doesn’t get more convenient than that.
They’re the basic documents you need to get married in Greece, but different areas might have different requirements. You’re better off checking in the specific area you’re wanting to get married – ask the local authorities or your wedding planner (if you’re using one). I can give you the bare bones in this article, but always double check for yourself. Don’t take a chance on me.
Same-sex marriages in Greece
Unfortunately, Greece doesn’t legally recognise same-sex marriages. Don’t let that put you off, though! You can have a symbolic wedding, which is basically the same, just not official official. You’d just have to take care of the legal side of the wedding in a registry office in the UK. That’s pretty easy – all you have to do is give 28 days notice – so don’t worry about that. You could do it before you go and sort it when you get home. Just focus on getting married in Greece and having the most amazing time ever.
Good news, as well – you won’t have to bother with all the documents and legalisation. Since it’s not official, you don’t have to worry about all the official processes. You can just make your own arrangements for your perfect ceremony. Don’t stress about all the legalities. Not your problem. It’ll save you a fair bit of money, money, money too.
Got your documents? Good. Now, how to get legally married in Greece
You’ve got your documents, you’ve got them legalised with an Apostille, you’ve got your certified translations, you’ve set up your ABBA playlist. You aren’t finished yet, though – still got a way to go to get married in Greece.
I touched on this earlier – one of the first things you might need to do is let the local newspaper know that you intend to marry. If there’s no local paper, you’ll have to tell the town hall and they’ll stick a notice up instead. Proper nice that, isn’t it? It’ll be printed in Greek, obviously – your names will be in Greek characters, but that just adds to the charm. You’ll need to do this in plenty of time before your intended date – it take a couple of days.
Next, you need to visit the President of the Community (Proedros Kinotetos). You’ll need to give him give him give him all of your documents. If there’s no President of the Community, you’ll need to take your documents to the town hall (Dimarcheío). They can’t be posted, they need to be delivered in person. You don’t have to hand them over yourself, though. If you’re using a wedding planner, they can do it for you. Assuming all’s good, 8 days later you’ll get your marriage licence and that’ll be valid for 6 months, anywhere in Greece.
Marriage licence acquired, it’s time to visit the mayor (or the President of the Community again), where you and your partner need to submit a joint application saying where you want to marry. They’ll then confirm the location and give you the date. You’re pretty much ready to get married in Greece!
There’s loads of different types of religious marriages, and they’re all proper different. I won’t try explain every possible way to get married in Greece because it’s a bit of a confusing rabbit hole and I’d be going on and on and on, but I’ll talk you through the most popular – Orthodox Weddings.
Both bride and groom need to be baptized. At least one of them has to be a Greek Orthodox Christian, and the other must be of Christian faith – a non-Christian can’t get married in Greece in an Orthodox ceremony. Sorry. As well as all the documents I mentioned earlier, you’ll also need your Baptism records and a certificate from your church giving you permission to marry.
You’ll need to give notice to the local newspaper, if there is one – you need a copy. Once you’ve got that, it’s pretty easy – just take all your documents to the priest you’re wanting to carry out the ceremony. He’ll check everything over for you and apply for your licence. He’ll let you know when and where. You just have to turn up and enjoy the ceremony.
Am I ready to be married yet?
Pretty much, but there’s even more stuff you need to know. You’re basically all set, but just to let you know – the ceremony’s completely in Greek. What else do you expect when you get married in Greece? If it’d be all Greek to you (sorry, that was poor) you’ll need a translator.
You’ll also need two witnesses at the ceremony, and if you need a translator you should kill two birds with one stone and get your translator to act as a witness. Witnesses need their passports or Greek ID cards with them during the ceremony – don’t ask why. Don’t ask me why you need to do a lot of this stuff.
If you’re having an Orthodox wedding, there’re certain traditions you might need to include in your ceremony, like giving sugared almonds (koufeta) to your guests afterwards. If you’re having a civil ceremony, you can include them anyway ‘cos they’re fun and you’re getting married in Greece – why not embrace some fun traditions?
My personal favourite tradition is where all the unmarried bridesmaids write their name on the bottom of the bride’s shoes. Like Andy on Toy Story. Whoever’s names are worn off by the end of the day are going to be married soon themselves, apparently. Catch the bride moonwalking everywhere, scuffing her feet whenever she can.
Alexa, play Dancing Queen! We’re done! You’re all set for your dream wedding.
After the ceremony, you’ve got one more job – you’ve got 40 days to register the marriage at the local Registrar’s Office/Office of Vital Statistics (the Lixiarhio). The bride or groom can do this, or a third person can if you give them ‘Power of Attorney’. You’ll get your marriage licence 3 days later – you can either collect it or get it posted to you. You need to register your marriage in Greece – if you don’t, it won’t be legally valid.
It’s quite a lot of preparation or, to give it its technical term, faff, to get married in Greece. But when you look at it objectively, it’s not too much work:
- Get documents (Apostilled and translated)
- Give notice to the local paper or town hall
- Take your the documents (in person) to the town hall or President of the Community
- Wait 8 days to receive your marriage licence
- Visit the mayor (or President of the Community), submit your joint application, confirm the date
- Remember your translator and second witness for the ceremony
- Say I do, I do, I do, I do, I do
- Annihilate every plate in sight!
- Get documents (Apostilled and translated)
- Give notice to the local paper or town hall
- Take your documents to your priest
- Let him sort out all the technicalities
- Enjoy your lovely wedding!
- Make your own arrangements for your ceremony
- Do what you want!
You’ll have to sort your flights and accommodation and all that, too, obviously. I’ve only covered the legal side of things – I’m no travel agent or wedding planner. That bit’s on you. If you’re wanting to get married in Greece, though, follow this guide and you won’t go far wrong.
If you’re worried about getting all your documents legalised, don’t be. Just have a look at our Greek Marriage Package, linked below. We’ll take care of all the legalisation for you – you can put that out of your mind and focus on planning the wedding of your dreams.