An adventurous, globe-trotting couple might want to get married in Greece. Known for its beaches, music and food, Greece is the ideal spot for a party to remember. From legal requirements to ideal destinations, here’s what you need to know about holding your special day in Greece.
Weddings in Greece can be civil, religious or a combination. Both types of weddings are legally recognised. An officiant performs civil ceremonies, while a minister or priest performs religious ceremonies.
Greece is known to be a liberal European country, but also a religious one. The Greek Orthodox Church opposes gay marriage. However, civil unions have been permitted between same-sex couples since 2015, but same-sex civil marriages are still not legally recognized.
You don’t need to be a citizen or a resident of Greece to get married there. However, if you’re marrying a Greek citizen or resident, he or she must hold a valid residence permit. Some legal requirements may vary depending on the city or island where you plan to get married, so it’s always a good idea to check with local authorities.
The legal minimum age for marriage is 18 years old. Younger couples can get married if they receive special dispensation from a court, which also requires parental permission.
You’ll also have to go through a waiting period between your application for marriage and your wedding day. This waiting period will vary depending on the municipality where you choose to marry, but can take anywhere from a week to a few months. For a civil marriage license, you can expect a seven-day waiting period.
Each party to the marriage will need the a copy of the following documents. For a religious ceremony, plan to have two copies each - one for the house of worship and one for the town hall:
- A valid passport
- A birth certificate with the Apostille stamp certifying the copy
- 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
- A decree of absolution of your previous marriage, if applicable
- A copy of the local newspaper where your intent to marry was published
US citizens may be able to avoid applying for a Greek marriage license if they have a US marriage license that can be amended to include Greece.
First you should state your intent to marry. Greece has a funny custom; you must state your intent to marry in a local newspaper or at the local community office or town hall. Plan to do this at least eight days in advance of your wedding day.
Once you’ve gotten all required documentation together, you can take it in-person to the town hall or the president of the community. You can have your wedding planner do this for you if you wish. The marriage license will be issued eight days later, and will remain valid for six months. After your license is issued, you must submit a joint application to the mayor stating where you’d like to marry, and confirming the wedding ceremony date.
Civil ceremonies are usually conducted in Greek, so a translator may be required. For civil services, you’ll need two witnesses present at the marriage. They must have passports or Greek identifying documents with them.
Obtaining a marriage certificate is also a legal obligation. You can file a registration form with the Office of Vital Statistics in the municipality where you’re married. You must do this within 40 days of getting married, or else you’ll face fines. Marriages that aren’t registered aren’t considered legally valid.
The estimated legal fees for a Greek wedding are:
- €7 for affidavit of marriage
- Between €200 and €500 for documentation costs
- Around €100 for translation services, if required
Remember that you and your guests can save money on cross border payments through TransferWise. Manage money in multiple currencies with the Borderless account while avoiding steep bank fees and bad exchange rates. With this, you can hold 15 different currencies all in one account (including GBP, USD and EUR). It’s like having a local bank account which you can use to pay like a local, wherever you need it Additionally, TransferWise offers the same real exchange rate you can find on Google and adds only a small, transparent fee.
Wedding planners and agencies can help you plan your big day and answer any questions about paperwork and legal requirements. It’s common to get married outdoors in Greece, due to the mild weather and myriad of beaches. Churches and town halls are also common venues. Many archaeological sites don’t permit weddings on the premises.
The following embassy and consulate websites will give you additional information:
- The U.S. Embassy and Consulate in Greece
- The Australian Embassy of Greece
- The British Embassy in Athens
- The Irish Embassy in Greece
- The Embassy of Canada to Greece
A wedding in Greece can be as cost-effective as you want it to be. While many luxury options are available to you, other lower-tier options can also be found. You can try searching for package deals, where a planner will combine ceremony and reception venue, catering, flowers and planning into one fixed cost. See below for some estimates on pricing for a 30-person, moderately formal wedding:
|Item||Estimated cost in Greece|
|Paperwork and administrative costs||€200 - €500|
|Dress, Shoes, Accessories||€500|
|Drinks (open car)||€75 per person|
|Food||€60 per person|
The following Greek locations are popular destinations for weddings:
|Navagio Beach (Zakynthos)||A beach in a cove, only accessible by boat and decorated by a shipwreck|
|Argentikon (Chios)||A historical estate within a citrus grove|
|Grecotel (Crete)||A hotel in a traditional farm location between vineyards and olive trees near the sea|
|Cavo Ventus Luxury Villa (Santorini)||An outdoor space with accommodation overlooking Akrotiri with sunset views|
|Amathus Beach Hotel (Rhodes)||A peaceful sanctuary on the beach of Ixia|
|Corfu old town (Corfu)||A traditional Ionian experience with Venetian forts, a UNESCO world heritage site|
|Panigirakis Castle (Mykonos)||A mythical castle with panoramic views|
|Lazareto Hotel (Monemvasia)||A relaxed country hotel by the sea in a medieval town|
|Veleni Boutique Hotel (Pelion)||A boutique location with views of Volos, the Pagasetic Gulf and the village of Makrinitsa|
|Island Taste and Art Private House (Athens)||A modern facility on the Athens Riviera|
There are many traditions, superstitions and ceremonies involved in a Greek wedding. You may want to choose to include some of them in your own wedding:
- Koufeta - Greeks include sugar-coated almonds to symbolize a sweet life. Wrap them in tulle and hand them out after the ceremony.
- Crowning - Crowns are placed upon the couple’s heads, and then are exchanged three times.
- Sirtaki - A formal dance where everyone holds hands and moves around in a large circle.
- Making the bed - Friends and family may help the couple make up their marital bed. They may even roll a baby across the bed to bless the bed with fertility.
- Luck - Wedding attendants might wear blue in order to ward off the evil eye, and spit three times for good luck after a compliment is paid.
Organising your wedding in Greece will require time, patience and money. However, the exotic location, amazing food and warm atmosphere may well be worth it.