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Italian Wedding Culture and Traditions

On the day of the wedding, the bride is not supposed to wear any gold, until after her wedding ring is slipped out. Wearing gold during or before the wedding is thought to bring bad luck. Old Church traditions forbade marriage during Lent and Advent. Marriage was also avoided in the months of May and August. May was to be reserved for the veneration of the Virgin Mary, and August was thought to invite bad luck and sickness.

Sunday marriages (with the exception of the months mentioned above) are believed to be luckiest. In the Veneto region of Italy, the groom walks to the bride’s house and, together, he walks with the bride and the whole wedding party to church. On the way, town residents would watch the group walk by and present the bride with many challenges. For example, they put a broom on the ground and if she bride noticed it and picked it up to put it away she was considered a good housekeeper. Then, she might come across a crying child, the couple is supposed to quiet him and make him smile; this would mean that they will be good parents. Coming across a beggar, means giving generously and is equaled to having a good heart.

The bride arrives to the wedding mass last. In the meantime, the groom waits in front of the church as his best men tease him about the bride, “Did you tell her that you’re getting married today?” and “I don’t think she’ll come”! Her lateness, depending on the number of minutes, would have a different meaning to the groom.

In Northern Italy , the groom brings the bouquet of flowers to the wedding. In fact the color and style of the bouquet is supposed to be a surprise to the bride. This signifies a present from the grooms

The Reception

The best man greets everyone coming to the reception with a tray of liquor. Sweet liquors are served to the women and strong drinks served to the men before any food. The purpose of this is to give everyone an opportunity to toast the bride and groom. A common toast would be “Per cent’anni” (for a hundred years). All the men at the reception kiss the bride for good luck — and to make the groom jealous.

The bride carried a satin bag (la borsa) in which guests placed envelopes containing money. The money helped toward the expenses of the wedding which was financed by the bride’s family. During the reception, this purse was usually guarded by the bride?s grandmother (nonna) or mother (the holder of the bag can vary).In some weddings the bride hangs on to the satin bag and all the men who dance with the bride put money in the sack.

At some weddings, primarily in Northern Italy, the best man would cuts the groom’s tie into little pieces. The pieces are then put onto a tray and sold to the guests. The proceeds are given to the couple to help pay for the band. It’s a good idea for the groom to bring a cheap tie in anticipation of this custom.

Italian weddings have always emphasized food. Strongly linked with family life, food is the focal point of the festivities. The elaborate wedding of the bride and groom brings together the friends and relatives of both families in a celebration of their new relationship.

In ancient Rome, a loaf of wheat bread was broken over the heads of the bride and grooms to ensure a fertile and fulfilling life. Guests would eat the crumbs for good luck.

A multi-course dinner follows often as many as 14 different courses (sometimes even more)!

Symbolic foods for good luck include twists of fried dough, powdered with sugar, called bow ties wanda, and Italian wedding candy. After dinner, everyone is served slices of wedding cake with cups of coffee, espresso or other beverages. During the wedding receptions friends of the groom usually sneak away to play tricks on the new couple (i.e. walling-in the door of the couple’s new home, putting itching powder in the bed).

A band providing dance music for the wedding guests may play mazzurcas and tarantellas. Before the bride and groom retire for the night, they break a vase or a glass – the number of pieces that the vase breaks into symbolizes the number of happy years of marriage that the couple can expect.