Traditional Italian Wedding

Customs of a Traditional Italian Wedding

Confetti

According to Italian tradition, when a man wanted to ask for a woman's hand in marriage either himself (or in some cases, his brother or another male relative) went to speak to the woman's father. Once the father said yes and both families were fine with the arrangement, presents were then exchanged. It was customary for the prospective groom (the pretendente) to place a diamond ring on his bride-to-be's finger before the engagement was announced. In readying herself for the upcoming nuptials, the bride-to-be collected a trousseau (or hope chest) of household items, clothing and sometimes even a few pieces of clothing belonging to her future husband. During the many wars fought in Italy, items in hope chests had to be carefully packed and then put away in excellent hiding places because it was feared that the soldiers from the invading army would find their way into homes and steal everything inside. Besides the hope chest, her family often gifted her with a dowry of monetary value and in some cases domestic goods such as dishes and silverware.

Italian weddings were always held in churches (sposarsi in chiesa) and certain traditions and folklore had to be abided by. Marriage

during the season of Lent was not allowed, as was marriage during Advent. No wedding ceremonies were held in May because that month was set aside for the worship of the Virgin Mary. As well, marrying in the month of August was believed to invite bad luck and sickness. There was a practical reason for this also- many Italian citizens took their vacations in August and it was thought that there would be low attendance at weddings. All other months of the year were allowed for weddings. Most weddings were held on Sunday as it was considered the "luckiest day" for the bond of matrimony.

On the day of a traditional Catholic wedding, a large bowed ribbon was draped across the top of the doorway of the church indicating to everyone who passed by that a marriage was about to take place inside. In days past an Italian bride did not wear a white dress but instead a dress in the color green (which symbolized fertility). Today most Italian women do opt for the color white to wear on their special day.

It is a must for guests to throw rice or paper confetti at the newlyweds as they exit the church. In Italy confetti represents good fortune and money and that is why the more that is thrown, the better it is for the couple. It is very common for a pair of doves to be released into the air after a wedding, symbolizing love and happiness. Nuts and grain are often thrown as are candy-covered almonds tied in mesh bags. This tradition is supposed to encourage conception.

On his wedding day a groom carried a piece of iron in his pocket, which was supposed to "ward off the evil eye" for fear that envy, and jealous feelings might destroy his happiness. Tearing a bride's wedding veil was believed to be a sign of good luck. At the conclusion of many Italian weddings the newlyweds shattered a wine glass or vase. Afterwards the broken pieces were counted. This represented the anticipated number of years the couple was expected to be happily married.

What would an Italian wedding be without food and fun? Italian wedding receptions today are lavish, full of energy and place

Traditional Italian Wedding

a tremendous emphasis on food and drink. To kick off a wedding reception, the bridal party are kept apart from the rest of the guests for approximately an hour and served cocktails during this time. After cocktail hour is over, guests gather in the main dining area while the bridal party enters the room. A pathway is formed by the guests in order for the bride and groom to walk through, but not before being acknowledged as a newlywed couple.

Energy is already buzzing around the room as the couple dances their first dance, followed by the members of the bridal party and finally, the guests. Italian weddings are very well choreographed.

After a few dances everyone takes their seats and then speeches (given by family and friends) begin. The new couple is treated to more than their fair share of champagne toasts throughout the speeches. And there is plenty of food and drink for the celebration. Before any food is served, women are treated to sweet liquors and men to stronger drinks.

Generally the first thing served is antipasto and it includes such delicacies as stuffed mushrooms, olives, salami, pickled peppers, calamari and prosciutto. Italian receptions include many different courses, sometimes as many as 12-14. There are sufficient amounts of pasta, salads, soups, meats, and fruits for everyone. No one goes home hungry after an Italian wedding reception; in fact it's generally the opposite- most people feel as if they might burst upon leaving. Wine is available at dinner and so are a variety of other beverages. Symbolic foods that are a part of every Italian wedding celebration because they bring good tidings include twists of fried dough, powdered with sugar called bow ties (wanda) and Italian wedding candy.

Wedding at the Italian Chapel.(wikimedia)

The dessert course includes an array of decadent delights such as pastries, cakes, fruits and as much coffee as a person

can drink. Of course there is also wedding cake to enjoy. A Viennese Table is often presented in Sicilian customs to usher in the dessert course, filled with mouth-watering treats. There is a special name for this- Vienna Hour.

Interesting to note about the wedding cake is that in some areas of Italy no cake is served. Instead at each place setting guests are treated to decorative boxes or tulle bags filled with sugared almonds. This is thought to adequately portray the wedding or what's also known as the "union of bitter and sweet."

Spoken at every wedding after many glasses of wine are the words- "Evviva gli sposi", which translated to English means "hurray for the newlyweds." The words always bring about applause, enthusiasm and much excitement and can be heard uttered many times throughout the wedding reception.

By Anika Logan

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Comments

Tuesday, July 26TH, 2011 by Guest

What is traditional Italian wedding dresses looks like?

Wednesday, July 27TH, 2011 by Guest

i <3 it!!!

Sunday, July 08TH, 2012 by Guest

 Italian tradition means traditional photos?

Thursday, November 08TH, 2012 by Guest

What are your credential?

Friday, November 30TH, 2012 by Guest

i plan on having a italian/russian wedding, including both customs and traditions.....

Thursday, January 03TH, 2013 by Guest

My friend's Daughter will marry to an Italian and I am invited to the Italian style reception. What should I bring/ give to the couple (bride &groom) in Italian tradition. Thank you

Saturday, March 23TH, 2013 by Guest

I have to say that I live in Italy and have been to just as many Italian weddings as American weddings and this information seems very outdated and even unheard of. I myself got married in Italy and mixed both classic Italian traditions and American traditions. Breaking glass, giving toasts, and drinking liquor are absolutely not part of their traditions, as well as others mentioned! I write about this on my blog "This Italian Life" of differences between American and Italian weddings. You should update your information, it is misleading.

Tuesday, May 20TH, 2014 by kattypiazza

I think that in this article they refer to old traditions, of the first half of the 20th Century. I have been told that the "breaking glasses" tradition is true (in old days), but can't verify the green dress or drinking liquor. Toasts are still given nowadays along the whole reception, and they usually are an excuse for the bride and groom to kiss. 

Saturday, May 04TH, 2013 by Guest

I agree with Jessventure. I am not american but dutch and lived for many, many years in Italy. My first wedding (with an Italian) took place in Italy, very traditional as it should be. I attended a lot of other weddings too and the traditions as mentioned above, are absolutely not Italian.
It is great though. Next Augus I will marry again (my first husband died 5 years ago) and allthough I live in Holland now, we will marry in church in Italy. Same church, same priest and same traditions! I suppose Mrs Logan has been to Greece to often! And mr Reid, allthough there are some slight regional differences in traditions and beliefs throughout the many regions in Italy...the differences in weddings are very small. And I don't see why you have to offend by asking ms jessventure to grow up. It is quite smart to correct obvious misstakes on a page that wants to give information about italian weddings. That info should be correct. So who is the one who should grow up?!

Sunday, May 12TH, 2013 by Guest

hello my name is lisahampton and my boyfriend hes an Itlian and im Mexican women and hes from the east coast and im from the west coast out in sandiegoca.and we would like to have both a Mexican and Itian wedding so I would see my familys is with d.b.so im I so what to do about food .

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