Traditions are part of the Italian culture, days like Christmas, Easter, Birthdays, Anniversaries, Births and of course Weddings have their own traditions. All countries in the world have a variety of customs and traditions and of course Italy is not an exception to this. Italian traditions regarding weddings are so intriguing because they vary from region to region, even if the nicest are respected everywhere. Step by step here follow the most important traditions of a wedding.
Nowadays a man proposes to a woman directly giving her a ring with a diamond which is a symbol of the eternity of love, a promise to marry, a first step towards a life together and this promise is then traditionally sealed with a romantic kiss. Engagement rings date back to medieval ages and are now one of the most common traditions all over the world. From this moment on the couple can be considered officially engaged.
This is not part of the Italian tradition like in other cultures, what happens is that the couple organizes a meeting with both their families to allow them to know each other if this has not happened before and then announce their wish to share a family life.
Hen and bachelorette parties
‘Hen’ or bachelorette parties are a recent innovation that started in America in the 1970s. In Italy these parties are an opportunity to have a nice dinner and fun with friends, even the ones who are not invited to the Wedding. A night out with friends that usually happens one or two weekends before the wedding.
Superstition regarding weddings
An Italian bride spends the night before the wedding at her parent’s house. The Bride is not supposed to wear any gold on her wedding day apart from her wedding ring, it is considered bad luck.
It is rude for anyone other than the Bride to wear white. Black dresses are becoming more and more popular because considered really elegant especially for an afternoon wedding.
Getting to the ceremony
The Groom must not see the Bride before the wedding ceremony, he is at the altar with his witness and waits till the Bride steps in accompanied by her father who will then “give her away”. Bride’s father shakes the Groom’s hand, kisses her daughter and walks back to the first raw of benches to take place next to the Bride’s mother. This is more common with Catholic weddings, while for a civil wedding Bride and Groom arrive together to the Wedding Hall accompanied by family and friends. In some regions Bride and Groom walk together to the Church, in other regions the Groom brings the bouquet of flowers to the wedding or even carries a piece of iron in his pocket.
After the ceremony
As you exit your ceremony, expect locals to shout Auguri! (Best wishes!) and clap, whether they’ve met you or not! Rice is thrown at the couple coming out of the Church or wedding hall to symbolize a shower of fertility. All guests approach and congratulate the newlyweds outside the wedding venue. In some regions in Italy Bride and Groom have to cut a log in two with a double handle saw after the wedding. This symbolizes the couple’s partnership in marriage. Another nice tradition is tying a ribbon in front of the church. The ribbon represents the bride and groom ‘tying the knot’. Instead of roping clanging cans to the back, follow the Italian tradition of decorating the front grill with flowers to pave your road to la dolce vita (the sweet life).
Wedding receptions follow the ceremony. Guests arrive before the wedding couple at the restaurant. The waiters offer them some aperitifs while they wait for the arrival of the spouses from their photo tour. Many funny moments are organized at an Italian Wedding despite main activity is still eating a lot of delicious and genuine food accompanied by the best wines, Limoncello and liquors. Before the pasta is passed at the rehearsal dinner, the best man toasts Per cent’anni (A hundred years) to wish the new couple a century of good luck, often with a glass of prosecco, the Italian version of champagne. Another common toast: Evvivaglisposi! (Hooray for the newlyweds!). Often during the banquet, guests bang glasses with spoons to encourage the Bride and Groom to kiss several times. Bride and Groom go from table to table, greeting and chatting with every guests, so everyone feels welcomed. At some point friends of the couple sneak away to play tricks in the new couple’s house (they put itching powder in the bed, fishes in the bathtub, hide shoes…), others organize practical jokes for the couple. It is customarily that the Bride throws her bouquet to the single ladies attending the banquet. Whoever catches the bouquet will be the next to get married! The wedding cake is white (for purity), tiered and topped by figurines representing the bride and groom. The wedding couple remains till the end of the reception and not only, sometimes the very close friends stay with the couple even after the reception, they go all together for a drink or even accompany them to their new house.
At the end of the wedding day, just before guests leave, Bride and Groom give small gifts to their guest to say thank you. Italians call them bomboniere, made of a present, confetti (sugared almonds) and printed ribbons. Bomboniere is a symbol of the family life. The number of confetti is very important: it should be an odd number – preferably 5 or 7- each a good-luck number.
Five things for good luck
Italian tradition calls for the bride to have five things with her on her wedding day (that’s one more than Anglo-Saxon tradition):
- Something old: symbolizing the life she is leaving behind and the importance of the past, which must not be forgotten in the transition to her new life.
- Something new: symbolizing the new life that is about to begin and representing new goals and changes
- Something borrowed: representing the love of the people dear to her, who will be by her side as she moves from her old life to her new one.
- Something blue: symbolizing purity; in ancient times blue was the colour of purity as well as the colour of wedding gowns!
- Something she has received as a gift: this is to remind her of the people she loves.
By Igor Giammanco and Valeria Ferrante