What are the steps to take when getting married here?
Written and photos by Georgi Hristov, edited by Lindsay Martin.
My wife and I got married in 2019 at Triaditsa Ritual Hall in Sofia. The process is fairly straightforward but can be time-consuming. Be sure to pack your patience! Here’s what I learned about getting married as a foreigner in Bulgaria.
Plan your paperwork in advance
To book the wedding date, the venue wants to see that you are not already married. To prove this, you need a document called a Certificate of No Impediment (CNI), which is obtained from your local embassy. In our case, the French embassy required a birth certificate to issue the CNI. If either partner has previously been married, you’ll need divorce documentation, or a death certificate when necessary. My wife is French. Therefore, she needed her documents translated into Bulgarian, certified by a translator, and officially verified by a notary. This process generally takes up to one week. We used the L&S - office Business Park Sofia translation agency and were happy with the service they provided.
Translation agencies typically offer notary services for an additional fee. It’s extremely important that a notary certifies the translation, or it will not be accepted. If you are marrying a Bulgarian citizen, they also need a Certificate of No Impediment. It is easy to get and costs 10 BGN. This document does not need to be translated into Bulgarian. It’s especially important to note the certificate is issued from the municipality you are registered. No other municipality can issue this for you.
Book the wedding date
You need to present your documents to the venue in order to book your wedding date. Here is a list of possible venues in Sofia. I recommend calling the location first to set up a site visit.
Once your documents are in order, the next step is to get:
- Medical Certificate for Wassermann – This is easy to obtain from any medical center. Just head to the medical clinic of your choosing and let them know you need a Wassermann test for marriage. It’s especially important to note here that the certificate is only valid only for 30 days, so don't get it too early.
- Payment receipt - This is obtained from a different place than your wedding venue. The location is here - Google Maps. To pay, you only need the translated Certificate of No Impediment and your wedding date.
- Now you are ready to get married! All you need now is: Show up a little early at the venue, 10 minutes is enough.
- Your shiny new wedding bands.
- Champagne to celebrate.
You’ll enjoy a very nice service. Smile, shed a tear of happiness, take photos, and sign your marriage certificate! The marriage certificate is issued at the venue after your ceremony.
Once you have your marriage certificate, the final step is to validate it in your home country. The certificate is in Bulgarian, so your local embassy requires the certificate to be officially translated. For the translation, you also need an official copy of the marriage certificate which must include a stamp from the municipality. We got married in Triaditsa Municipality. In order to get a copy, I had to go to the local Triadica Municipality office location. The copy was stamped in 10 minutes at a cost of 10 BGN.
Are you planning a Christian Church service?
For the Church Service, you only need a document that proves you are baptized, which is usually issued right after the baptism. In our case, this happened as children, so we already had the necessary documents.
It’s important to note that I am an Orthodox Christian, and my wife is a Catholic Christian. In our particular case, we were not asked for approvals from our respective churches. Nor was she asked to convert to the Orthodox religion. This varies case by case, and you may have a different experience.
To book the church service, you need to:
- Choose a Church. Sofia has many fine Churches with experienced priests. For a full list, visit here - Храмове и духовници в град София. Our personal preference was - Church of Sveti Sedmochislenitsi, which was recently renovated, and it is beautiful! The priests are very knowledgeable and kind.
- A document that shows you have been baptized.
- Date and time for the ceremony.
In our case, we did it on the same day right after the town hall service.
The Church service usually lasts around 1 hour, depending on what the priests included in the ceremony. Congrats!