Tradition is as much a part of the Italian culture as is their incredible food. So, it is no surprise that Italian weddings are full of wonderful traditions meant to celebrate their history, and bring prosperity to their future. Some customs, such as proposing to your beloved with a ring are important to Italians, as well as being universally accepted. Others are a bit more specific to this region. For example, it is customary that the night before the wedding the bride spend the night at her parents’ home. On this night and for the rehearsal dinner, she could also wear green to promote good fortune.
Depending on the location of your wedding, different regions offer different sets of traditions. In some parts, it is customary for the bride and groom to be kept apart before the wedding, not to see each other before the bride is escorted down the church aisle and handed off to the groom by her loving father. In other areas, the bride and groom may arrive together, encountering on their journey a series of obstacles, such as fallen brooms or crying baby, to represent the kinds of challenges they may face in marriage. Then once the happy couple arrives, it is customary across Italy to hold a traditional ceremony in a church, with a small wedding party consisting of only a couple witnesses. However, many families traveling to Italy for a destination wedding prefer to embrace the location and enjoy a beautiful outdoor celebration.
Following the ceremony, it is the guests who will exit first while the newly-weds sign their marriage certificates. Upon exiting, guests will shower the couple with rice to celebrate and promote fertility. Often couples will tie ribbon on their church door representing “tying the knot”, and others may use a double-sided saw to cut through a log, symbolizing marriage as a partnership. No matter how Italian couples exit the church, they are sure to hear the locals cheering “Auguri!”, or best wishes, whether they know you or not because in Italy everyone is famiglia!
Once gli sposi arrive at the reception it’s time for dinner. Food is incredibly important in Italy, and enjoying a meal together at a wedding is a celebration like no other. Some southern Italian weddings offer up to 15 different courses, including a variety of local meats, cheeses, and other produce. A custom selection of wine from the local vineyard is a must. Then whenever guests aren’t discussing the delicious dinner, they are likely to be cheering out “Per cent’anni!”, meaning for a hundred years, or “Evviva gli sposi!”, Hooray for the newlyweds! to salute the happy couple.
A celebration that grand can get quite expensive, so another Italian wedding custom is for the bride to carry a borsa or small satin bag, for guests to place envelopes of money in. If they are lucky, they might even receive a dance with the bride in exchange for their gift. Then once all the guests have been greeted and the food is gone, it is time for La Tarantella a celebratory Italian wedding dance where friends and family gather in a circle, for a fun frenzy of dancing and spinning! A real celebration of life and togetherness.
Next is the wedding cake. Many Italian wedding’s will not offer a cake, but rather a selection of Confetti, candy coated pieces of chocolate made in a variety of flavors, meant to represent the bittersweet nature of marriage. However, when there is a cake it will be a traditional Millefoglie. A large, flat circular cake with layers of pastry, sweet cream, fresh berries and powdered sugar. A pastry chef will assemble the Dolce right in front of the guests.
For one final Italian wedding tradition, at the end of the night the bride and groom will gather their friends and family, and smash a glass. The number of pieces ensure the number of years this newly wed Italian couple will live happily ever after.