Italian Wedding Traditions
Traditions are a bit part in 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. Couples wish to get married in Italy in the tradition of their ancestors or at least introduce elements from their cultural backgrounds. 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. Some wear green because it is said that brings good fortune. The Bride is not supposed to wear any gold on her wedding day a part from her wedding ring, it is bad luck. Bride has to wear something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and something she has received as a gift.
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". Brides 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 wedding, 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
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'.
Wedding receptions follow the ceremony, guests keep same dresses. 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. Often during the banquet, guests bang glasses with spoons to encourage the Bride and Groom to kiss several times. At some weddings, particularly in Northern Italy, the best man cuts the groom's tie into little pieces. The pieces are then put onto a tray and sold to the guests. 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.