Civil Wedding in Rome

How to plan an outdoor civil wedding in Rome

In recent years we are witnessing a significant increase in civil weddings in Italy and a respective decrease in those with a religious rite. Indeed latest news report that civil marriages overtake those with a religious rite. Reasons may be different, but I do not want to analyze them here, also because they are part of the sphere of personal choices. The fact is that by now almost a married couple out of two chooses to getting married in a civil ceremony.

If you are planning your wedding and are considering an outdoor Civil Wedding in Rome, keep reading these very important tips, separated by topics!

Civil Wedding in Rome

An outdoor civil wedding just outside Rome

Civil ceremony at Venue

In Rome, as in most Municipalities, it is difficult to personalize the ceremony of your wedding: with rare exceptions, you are subject to the timing dictated by the Authorities and you have your hands tied regarding the scenography of the site.

In the particular case of Rome, which I know very well, it is possible to get officially married only within the four Town Halls:

  • the Red Hall at Capitol
  • the Vignola Mattei Complex near the Baths of Caracalla
  • Villa Lais (actually this site is temporarily suspended from 02/01/2019 and the thing is object of protests by Roman citizens)
  • the Blue Room in Ostia — far from city center
The Red hall at Capitol

The interior of the Red Hall at Capitol

Let's face it: here in Rome there is no choice whatsoever and the halls are rather anonymous — if not ugly —, at least according to my personal taste.

Personally I advise you to look for venues where you can celebrate your civil wedding in Rome, even outdoor. So you could continue with the reception and celebrations in the same place: surely the guests will thank you!
In order to organize an outdoor civil wedding in Rome, you will have to look for availability in the neighboring Municipalities that allow it or you will be forced to celebrate the ritual in one of the Municipal Houses and opt for a symbolic rite in venue. But this will give you the benefit that it will be completely customized!

Designing the ritual

In case you chose to celebrate an outdoor civil wedding in Rome, it is essential to plan the ceremony at the best, from all points of view. We'll analyze every possible criticality in detail.

The position of the ritual

First of all you must chose the position and orientation of the set-up of the ceremony: not only they have to be scenically interesting, but also functional, practical and possibly the best from a photographer's point of view, in relation with the time when the ceremony will be celebrated.

Even the set-up, as well as being visually impactful and approved by bride and groom, must be comfortable and must not hinder the work of the photographer and the filmmaker: far too many times we had to deal with arches or gazebos that were too narrow or intrusive, which limited our movements and our creativity.

So don't hesitate to ask your photographer and filmmaker for advices: usually, if we consider it necessary, we would go for an on-site inspection to help our couples in this important choice.

A wedding at Casina di Poggio della Rota

The amazing set-up of an outdoor wedding at Casina di Poggio della Rota

The position of the couple

The position of bride and groom in wedding ceremony: sitting, standing, from behind, in profile or facing the guests, it's a thorny choice based on the character that you want to give to the ceremony. Personally, I really like that the whole audience participates in the rite, with the couple facing it or at most in profile. In this way, if you plan to exchange particular vows and make your guests participate, they will all feel involved and will have the opportunity to clearly follow what is happening.

Music for civil wedding ceremony

Even if venue's managers will tell you that there will be no need for any amplification — probably because they are not well equipped — trust me: unless you have very few guests, all close to you, the farthest ones will not hear you. It is a certainty.
Therefore provide for using a microphone, better if wireless, and an audio system commensurate to the environment where the ceremony will be celebrated. In this way, not only you'll be sure to be heard by everyone, but you will also be able to have the complete registration of the ceremony, essential if you chose the wedding movie in addition to the photos.
Indeed, in this case I add a further suggestion: I do not recommend the use of background music during the speeches. While creating atmosphere, they will be recorded superimposed on the voices of those who speak into the microphone, making the editing of the film annoying, in which often the speeches are cut by extrapolating the most significant parts. All this unless you find an audio technician good enough to send the different tracks on separate recordings.

Plan B

If you are planning an outdoor getting married in a civil wedding in Rome don't forget to include a Plan B in case of adverse weather conditions: we all hope that your wedding will be celebrated on a beautiful sunny day, but something unexpected might happen. So make sure that an equally valid alternative to the ritual you have planned is always organized.

Ways to personalize your wedding ceremony

Being an outdoor civil wedding in Rome, it will be possible to personalize it in many ways: you are free from institutional rites, religious or laical, so try to make your wedding ceremony unique and unforgettable, not only for you, but also for your guests!

Couple is facing the guests

Couple is facing the guests

Wedding vows and guests speeches

I strongly suggest you to exchange vows written by yourselves and to invite your guests to participate during the ceremony. This will allow you to make the ceremony yours and unique, exciting and engaging, of the right length. Do not forget also that, in case of a wedding film, this will be a very important material that will contribute in personalizing the final product.

Couple is exchanging vows

An intense and moving wedding vow

The celebrant

Do not forget that, in the case of such kind of civil marriage, it is possible to have a friend or relative as a celebrant.
Often there are gifted people among the guests, able to manage such an important role as the celebrant. If he or she is also a very dear person to you, it will be a joy for him/her having this important role in your marriage. Expect even more intense emotions than a situation with a celebrant you've never met before!

Ritual symbols

Customize the ceremony with a symbolic ritual: the limit is only your imagination, but if you want some examples of particular rituals I came across, here's a list:

  • the candle ritual, in which the couple light a candle by two other candles
  • the ritual of the red rose, in which at the end of the ceremony the couple exchange an object (in particular a red rose, but it can also be something else) that they had at the beginning of the ceremony; it is a metaphor for the fact that marriage has not changed the nature of the two objects, but their states have
  • the sand ritual, in which the couple pour sand of two different colors into a bowl
  • the ring warming ritual, which involves letting wedding rings pass through the hands of the guests, almost as if each of them could bless them
  • part of the Celtic or Irish rite involved weaving two or more strings or tying the hands of the couple with a single string
Bride and groom weave three strings

The ritual of weaving three strings

Other customizations

The outdoor civil wedding in Rome can be truly personalized in every single aspect: you could involve your dog in bringing you the wedding rings, have more of the canonical two witnesses each, sign a particular parchment that you can keep at home, you could arrange an "alternative" entry if you have unusual passions (for example on horseback or riding a motorcycle or even paragliding!).
In short, imagination is your only limit, so set it free!


While at a religious ceremony guests know more or less what will happen, its order, what times and what spaces are allowed, in the case of a personalized outdoor civil ceremony they may be in difficulty or take too much freedom.

It is therefore important to have a figure who is able to coordinate events and guests. If you haven't a wedding planner to entrust with this delicate task, you could talk about it with the celebrant, so that he manages above all these fundamental phases:

  • the arrival of the bride: many guests often want to see the bride as soon as possible, so they do not remain seated in their seats, with the result of creating a chaos which must be remedied when it is too late or when the bride has already arrived
  • the wedding reception: it is therefore necessary to arrange the guests upon arrival on the spot, avoiding that they wander around the venue
  • the ceremony: during the ceremony guests have to know clearly that they must remain in their place and must not turn around the couple; just as in church it is not allowed to go on the altar, even during the civil ceremony they must not cross the imaginary line of the first row of seats
  • speeches: it would be desirable to have a lineup of all the speeches, in order to not create confusion nor discontent in those who want to participate
  • the end of the ceremony: if you intend to celebrate the end of the ceremony by throwing rice, confetti, fireworks, paper tapes or in any other way, it is essential to coordinate guests who, not knowing the right timing and being impatient to celebrate the event, will end up ruining their choreography; then make sure that there is someone to take care of their coordination.
A well-coordinated throwing of rice

The moment of throwing rice, coordinated by the Celebrant

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