The Comune di Venezia -- the city government -- has set up a web site to help helpless romantics who wish to be married in picturesque Palazzo Cavalli, on the Canal Grande. This is a topic with which I have a passing familiarity, as before I met and married Perfect and Wonderful Lorraine, I married another woman in that exact spot (try as I might to forget about it) in 1992.
I would gladly post a lovely photo of the event, had they all not been sent to a deep landfill 6 years ago. Here's a shot, instead, of the room in which the infamous event occured, as found on the Venetian municipal site.
A how-to-do-it site is a good idea, as the process for foreigners who wish to get married in Venice (or Italy for that matter) is tortuous and uber-daunting. It involves a couple consulates, a Kafkaesque stack of documents, cryptic stamps, witnesses, translations, and visits to no fewer than 5 different governmental agencies here and in Italy. The web site seems to streamline the goose chase a bit, but if you're in a hurry, try the Venetian in Vegas.
The ceremonies performed in Palazzo Cavalli are, of course, civil ceremonies. Essentially, you are glued together by the Venetian equivalent of what we call a Justice of the Peace, here in the States. You cannot be legally married by a clergyperson in a church in Venice (or Italy for that matter) unless you happen to be Roman Catholic. I tried to fake the whole Catholic thing in order to get married in a cool church, but they weren't buying it. In the end, we took a gondola from Palazzo Cavalli to the (now deconsecrated) church of San Maurizio, where a subsequent (non-legal, ceremonial only) service was conducted by a Lutheran pastor from Firenze who bore an eerie resemblance to a young Abe Lincoln.
It all comes flooding back.
Thanks again to zoomata.com for digging up the link to the "how to get married in Venice" site.