Celebrities have ways of keeping stuff that would otherwise be public—marriage licenses, appearances with county clerks—pretty secret. With this couple spending a rumored $6.5 million (!) on the nuptials, you can bet that they could have a completely up-and-up Italian union on the down-low.
If that's what they wanted, which isn't likely.
In fact, it's more probable that such a celebration in Italy might be, as you suspect, more symbolic than legally binding.
Yes, Timberlake and Biel are expected to tie the knot this weekend at an Italian resort too expensive for me to even type. Yes, this is a serious, three-day affair involving a rumored star-studded guest list.
But I'm told that when it comes to paperwork, getting legally married in Italy can be a serious pain. First, couples must get a marriage license in their county of residence, then file still more paperwork with Italian officials, often months in advance. After that, the couple has to fly to Italy and appear in person at a U.S. consulate to finalize said paperwork.
Like I said, a pain.
The result, according to Italian wedding specialist Diana Sorensen, owner of Sugokuii Events, is often a legally binding wedding closer to home followed by an elaborate symbolic ceremony in Italy.
"Most celebrities do a wedding in their home country first, to make it official, and then they have a symbolic ceremony in Italy afterward, so they file no paperwork in Italy," she tells me. "Personally, with Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel, I do not feel they will have a legal ceremony in Italy. My feeling is that, like most celebrities, they've already done something in the United States."
Or will, once they get back home.
However, if Biel and Timberlake do opt for a legal Italian ceremony, they'll likely retain a service that will allow them to speed up their paperwork filings. The price, according to Sorensen, is the equivalent of about $6,500.
That's peanuts to pop stars. But that option isn't as likely. Sorensen points out that Biel and Timberlake would likely still have to show up in person at a U.S. consulate ahead of the wedding. And, come on: a privacy-craving pair like that, risking a paparazzi attack in the middle of Rome or Naples? It's possible, but not probable.