Today’s wedding traditions and rituals come to us from Italy. While some traditions vary depending upon the region of Italy, others are the same across the board (like the vast selection of food- sometimes up to 14 courses)! From getting the father’s permission (sometimes a difficult task) to tying a ribbon across the church’s doors (one source of the phrase, “tying the knot”) to carrying the bride over the threshold, you’ll be surprised how many common parts of today’s wedding celebration originated in Italy- and what makes celebrations there totally unique. Know that some of the historical elements of an Italian wedding have carried on through time and some have changed. Enjoy, and be sure to click the link at the bottom to check out the Italian Wedding Traditions Pinterest Board!
approach the bride’s father, profess his love for the man’s daughter, and get
his permission to ask for her hand in marriage. At one time, long ago, he would to bring the ring
along, and the father would take his time meeting with a family council before giving an answer. The father would have the final say, but information that was presented to him often
came from careful research into the potential suitor and his family- sometimes looking back up to 5 generations (intense, right?). Today, a man proposes directly to a woman, giving her a ring with a
diamond which is a symbol of the eternity of love, and the decision is up to her. Of course, it is recommended that the groom still get Dad’s permission! Here are some great tips from WeddingChannel for this big step.
in the month of May (which is dedicated to the Virgin Mary) or the month of August (which is said
to symbolize bad luck and sickness). The day of the week is a matter of superstition and importance as well: It is said that you should not get married or leave for a trip on Tuesday (as Tuesday-Martedì- comes from the God of War) or
Friday (the day when the evil spirits were created).
to serve as witnesses. The Maid of Honor and any bridesmaids historically have worn similar outfits to
the bride to confuse evil spirits- a tradition that has developed in many places to a point where bridesmaids dress in a similar way to each other, but not necessarily to the bride.
generation to another.
Trousseau & Shower the Bride with Gifts-
prepare a trousseau or
hope chest of household items, clothing for herself and sometimes even clothes for her future
husband. Her family would provide her a dowry consisting
of monetary and possibly domestic goods. They would add items throughout her childhood and have it ready at the time of the wedding, as the newlyweds would move in together right after their honeymoon.
relatives, receiving gifts in a similar fashion to the U.S. and the groom often celebrates with his friends and relatives at a stag (or bachelor) party. Hen or Bachelorette parties for the bride have also become popular, and typically consist
of dinner or a night out with female friends a few weeks before the wedding.
rehearsal dinner, the best man toasts, “Per cent’anni,” or “A hundred years!” to
wish the new couple a century of good luck, often with a glass of prosecco,
an Italian champagne.
traditional Italian wedding ceremony takes place on Sunday morning, as most
Italian weddings have Roman Catholic religious roots. Other prominent religions in Italy are
Protestant, Muslim and Judaism. Of course, any wedding that is not Roman
Catholic will have some variations.
door to the church. This represents the couple’s harmony and shows anyone passing by that a joyous event is taking place inside.
jewelry other than her wedding ring. She may also want to wear something old, something new, something borrowed,
something blue (and/or if she prefers, something green for good luck) and something she has
received as a gift.
of Italy, the groom walks the bride and the wedding party to the church. This symbolizes the
journey of marriage. According to
tradition, the bride’s bouquet is the last gift from the groom as a boyfriend. In
Northern Italy, he chooses it, buys it, and either has it delivered to her in the morning or meets her with the bouquet at the front of the church, handing it to her as she arrives. In keeping with international tradition, the bride will later throw it and the girl who catches it is
believed to be the next to marry.
isn’t coming, saying things like, “Maybe she forget where the church
is” or, “Maybe she doesn’t want to get married after all”. According to Italian folklore regarding metals, a groom with a piece of iron in his pocket will prevent that from
happening, and will avert other misfortunes as well.
tradition comes from ancient Rome, when it was used literally to cover the face
of the bride (not simply as a symbol of purity). Back then, weddings were arranged and couples could not meet before the wedding, preventing second thoughts. It was only once the celebration was completed that she could reveal
represented by rings. In order to seal the union of the couple, the ancient
Romans would exchange iron rings. These rings in some regions of Italy are
called “vera”, meaning “faithfulness”. In the Italian culture, if the man’s family owns a ring, they should leave it to their eldest son, who will give it to his fiancee as a symbol not just of love, but also to welcome her into the family. Another customary practice is for the bride and groom to engrave each other’s names inside their wedding bands.
bride and groom exit the church, guests throw confetti, symbolizing money,
prosperity and fertility. This can be rice, paper confetti, nuts, grain, etc.
confetti is being thrown, to represent love and happiness. In other regions, the bride and groom work together to cut a log in two with
a double-handled saw after the wedding. This symbolizes the couple’s partnership
tradition has, in the past, called for an abundance of flowers and ribbons.
tarantula”) is a crazy but fun way for guests wish the newly married couple good
luck, and no Italian reception would be complete without it. Dancers hold hands and race clockwise until the music speeds up, and then
they reverse directions. The tempo and direction continue to change until the
group gets too dizzy to continue. This dance originated in Southern Italy and was once said to have the power to cure a poisonous spider’s bite. An odd origin, but a fun tradition nonetheless. Looking at YouTube, it seems that there are a few different versions of La Tarantella’s dance, but the music is unmistakable and you’ll recognize it right away!
with spoons to encourage the Bride and Groom to kiss several times.
with every guest so that everyone feels welcomed. Oftentimes, they’ll give guests a little pouch or a handful of sugared (or jordan) almonds. These represent the bitter and sweet of life and marriage, and each guest should receive an odd number of them (often 5 or 7, as these are lucky numbers). Sometimes, the bride even carries a dish and spoons these out into the outstretched hand of each guest.
at the reception for guests to place envelopes of money in, a tradition called
the “buste.” Daring brides even wear it around their necks for male guests to
drop in money in exchange for a dance.
focus of everything in Italy, and it is in copious supply. Traditionally, weddings in Italy can include up to 14 courses and the eating portion alone can last up to 5
hours, so be prepared if you’re attending a wedding in Italy, especially in the Southern regions. These courses will undoubtedly include many customary Italian items, such as:
Antipasto (This first-course dish, which literally means, “Before the meal”, traditionally includes
Italian delicacies such as prosciutto, olives, stuffed mushrooms, pickled
peppers, various cheeses, salami and even fresh fish and calamari)
Italian wedding soup
Pastas, breads, meats, fruits, salads and cheeses
– In Italy, either a roasted baby pig (porchetta) or roasted baby lamb (bacchio), depending on the region, may be
served, accompanied by two pasta dishes and assorted fresh fruit.
– Wanda (or ‘quanti’
in Italian) is a traditional powdered sugar-coated, bowtie-shaped dough twist dessert. These can often be found at Southern Italian weddings and are said to bring good tidings to the bride and
a waffle-like sweet pastry, are often served as well.
newlyweds!” is traditionally exclaimed throughout the reception as wine
glasses are raised in celebration. Young gentlemen make take advantage of opportune quiet moments to shout, “Bacio! Bacio! Bacio!” to get the bride and groom to kiss again.
Northern Italy, the best man cuts the groom’s tie into little pieces. The
pieces are put onto a tray and sold to the guests. This is said to help pay for the band.
The bride throws her bouquet to a lucky lady, the groom removes the garter from the bride’s leg and throws it to a lucky guy, and then the two of them need to dance together. If the man asks her to wear the garter and she says yes, the bouquet premonition (that she’ll be the next to marry) may come true sooner than expected!
of the evening, the couple breaks a glass or a vase and the shards are counted.
This is said to represent the number of years that the couple will stay happily
Bride Over the Threshold-
of the most common traditions worldwide is that the groom carries the bride
over the threshold. Actually, this comes from a Roman legend that tells the groom to help prevent the bride from tripping over the entrance, as it would bring bad luck to the union.
had to eat honey during an entire “moon” (a month) after the wedding, to start their lives together on a sweet note. Today, the meaning has evolved, but the name has stayed the same.
weddings, guests were still eating, drinking and dancing and the bride &
groom would quietly sneak out and leave for their honeymoon, without opening a
single gift. The guests would know that the wedding banquet was over when they couldn’t eat or drink any more.
In some areas of Italy, such as Naples, brides have been known to
send out small thank you gifts (such as cakes) when
they have returned from their trip.
Intrigued by Italian weddings of the past and present? Be sure to check out the Italian Weddings Pinterest board here to see and learn more!