As a foreigner who got married in Malta last year, I know from first-hand experience that getting married in Malta can be an absolutely fantastic experience, but that it also pays to do your research.
This series of articles is meant to help other expats like us plan their wedding in Malta and make it a truly special day. Note that ours was a Civil Ceremony, so this is where my experience lies. Many things are quite different for Church weddings, which I don’t know an awful lot about.
I’ll start with some crucial tips today, and dive into the nitty-gritty of planning a Malta wedding in the upcoming articles.
Malta Wedding Tip #1 – Research, Research, Research
When it comes to any wedding related services – be it the venue, hairdressers, limo service or anything else – it always pays to do a lot of research and compare prices from at least 3-4 different vendors.
This is because prices for the exact same service tend to vary widely. With venues and such, it’s of course perfectly understandable, but when I was doing my research, I had the price quotes for things like tux rental vary from €35 a suit to over €100 a suit! For almost exactly the same thing, that’s a hell of a difference!
Malta Wedding Tip #2 – Make Sure Your Papers are in Order
As a foreigner, you do need to prepare some documentation in order to get married in Malta, and it can be quite a pain as more often than not, it will involve at least one trip back to your country of origin.
The two key documents that you’ll need are the Certificate of No Impediment (essentially your country saying that you’re not married already) and your Birth Certificate.
What’s noteworthy is that both of these documents need to be either originals, or certified by a notary, as well as translated into English or Maltese, and the translation also needs to be certified / apostilled.
Additional tip for those getting married in Gozo, but live in Malta (or the other way around): You will also need to obtain the Certificate of No Impediment from the Marriage Registry in Malta prior to your application! Apparently, that’s because the registries in Malta and Gozo are separate and there’s no inter-linking between them.
Malta Wedding Tip #3 – Choose the Timing Carefully!
Setting the time of the year, as well as the day of the week for the wedding was perhaps one of the toughest decisions for us.
For obvious reasons, we quickly eliminated the winter, leaving us with May to September as the possible options.
We didn’t want to do it right in the middle of the summer (July/August), as otherwise, we’d have both ourselves and our guests boil in the 35C+ heat whilst wearing tuxedos. On the other hand, whilst the weather is much milder in May and September, you’ll need to start dealing with the chance of rain, as well as the wind.
At the end of the day, it will come down to your personal preference, though. We felt like risking it, and went with the end of May. Luckily, there was no rain. We did get a fair share of wind which caused a few issues, but it all ended well.
The day of the week is a whole different story. You’re basically choosing between weekday or weekend. Weekend has it’s own obvious advantages, but what many people don’t realise is that having your wedding on a weekday opens up a whole lot of options.
Good venues are very often booked several years in advance for weekend receptions. The same applies to some other services. But for a Thursday – nearly everything was wide open even just a notch over half a year before the date.
And since the majority of our guests were coming from overseas anyway, it wasn’t such a big deal for us. Of course, if most of your guests are going to be from Malta, you may want to reconsider as they may have difficulties getting off work.
Malta Wedding Tip #4 – Keep All VAT Receipts
What many foreigners getting married in Malta don’t know, is that as long as you’re a resident of Malta (i.e. have your ID card), you can claim back most of the VAT (Value Added Tax) on all wedding-related expenses.
Being able to use this for almost everything, from the venue to smaller bits like buying decorations, getting your hair done, etc. this can be a significant amount of money. With the return currently being 13.01%, on an expenditure of €20,000 (which would be quite an average spend on a not-too-big wedding), we’re talking about over €2,600 of essentially free money.
All you need to do is make sure that you keep all the VAT receipts, make sure that the receipts you get actually do have VAT calculation on them, along with the service provider’s VAT number, and within 6 months after the wedding, complete and file the appropriate form.
You can download the form here – http://mfin.gov.mt/en/Services/Documents/Grants/Application%20Form%20for%20the%20Wedding%20Grant.pdf
Malta Wedding Tip #5 – Pencil in the date with the Marriage Registry on time!
Even for civil ceremonies, you will need to complete a Marriage Application beforehand, and pencil in the date of the reception.
This is done by the Marriage Registry, who will also provide you the officer who will legally ‘marry you’ on the day.
What’s noteworthy is that the application can only be completed between 6 weeks and 3 months before the date of the wedding. My recommendation is to go to the Marriage Registry 3 months before your wedding on the dot, as then you’ll still have the chance to sort things out should it turn out that any documents are missing or wrong.
The Marriage Registry for Malta is in Valletta (in the same building with the residence office), or if you’re getting married in Gozo, you’ll need to go to the office in Victoria.
Malta Wedding Tip #6 – Line Up Your Witnesses
When at the Marriage Registry, you will also be asked for the names and ID card numbers of two witnesses.
This comes as a surprise to many foreigners, some of whom don’t even know anybody in Malta.
When registering our ceremony, we were asked for the details of two people (one each) who a) will be present during the ceremony; b) are residents of Malta; c) know us for at least 2 years.
Since for many this could be a struggle, it pays to think about it beforehand.
Malta Wedding Tip #7 – Double-check and Confirm EVERYTHING
Even though one would expect vendors who provide wedding-related services to be super diligent, the reality is unfortunately different, at times.
Since the last thing you want to happen is vendors not showing up or things going wrong on The Day, you’ll want to make sure that everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing and when.
This includes the venue, the band (TRIPLE check that they know the song for your first dance – speaking from experience!), the photographer and everyone else. Personally, I kept a tidy list of all vendors and called them all once 3 months before the wedding, and again 3 days before, to make sure that they know what they’re supposed to do and that everything’s on track.
And when dealing with vendors who are one-man-shows or family businesses (as are most transportation firms, photographers, and many others), it always pays to have a backup in place should anything happen to the person just before your ceremony.
Finally, it’s always a good idea to have everything written down on paper, and having your vendors sing the paper (whilst retaining a copy). It’s easy for a limo driver to say “oh, yes, I’ll pick you guys up at 6pm”, only to show up an hour late and claim that the time that was agreed was 7pm.
Getting married in Malta seems like lots of work and things to worry about? Absolutely. But at the end, it will all be worth it. Malta is an amazing place for a wedding, so it’s well worth navigating through the bureaucracy and pitfalls for an excellent end result!
Let me know if these tips were useful! If our readers like it, I’ll follow up with some more wedding-related articles and guides.
Got any wedding tips on your own, or any questions about our experience? Speak up in the comments below!