Authentic Italian Wedding Traditions

Italy is a classic destination for wedding ceremonies, as the country beams with stunning architecture, natural landscapes and heritage villages.

Traditions are deeply ingrained in the Italian lifestyle and way of doing things. True to this lifestyle weddings are usually held on Saturdays or Sundays as Fridays are regarded as bad luck.

Here are some of the main Italian wedding traditions:

Pre-wedding isolation

Isolation? Yes. This tradition requires the groom to stay away from the bride the night before the marriage. Known for their passionate demeanor, Italians require the bride not to see her own reflection too. She can only look into the mirror if she takes off an accessory either an earing, shoe or glove.

White color is a no-no

This rule applies for the guests of course. Whether or not the bride has a white wedding dress, that day all-white attire is forbidden for anyone but the future wife. 

La serenata

This depicts the custom of organizing a serenade under the bride’s window on the pre-wedding night. To spice up the plot, friends, and family are notified of the exact time and moment while the bride is completely kept in the dark. Musicians and instrumentalists are secretly brought by the groom to the bride’s window where they sing below her balcony. If she wakes up to the sweet romantic melodies, it is marked as a ‘mission accomplished.’

Confetti and Bomboniere 

Traditionally Bomboniere are given to guests as an appreciative gesture for their presence. Usually it’s a multi-colored sugar-laden almonds - or confetti - packed into neat organza bags and stacked in groups of five. Bomboniere depicts a time of health, fertility, wealth and long life. 

Who pays for the bridal bouquet?

In Italy, the bouquet is the groom's final gift to the bride as a boyfriend. The groom must pay for it, and have it delivered on the morning of the wedding to the bride's house. The bride is permitted to choose the bouquet; after all, it must be coordinated with her dress. At the end of the ceremony, as we all know, the bride launches her bouquet of flowers towards a group of unmarried women, who compete to catch it. The bouquet is much more than a pretty prop, it signifies the passing on of tradition and creation of family, as the woman who catches the bouquet will be lucky enough to get married next.

La giarrettiera - a good luck charm

It was believed that obtaining a piece of the bride's dress brought good luck in 14th century Europe, so guests tried to negotiate a way to get their hands on pieces of it. In the 17th century, unmarried guests were encouraged to take the bride's ‘garters’ (strips of fabric cut from the marital dress) and attach them to their hats for luck in love, but, over time, these customs turned into throwing the accessories (the bouquet, the garter, the gloves), to prevent the bride's dress from being ruined.

Tradition states the groom is to take off the garter and throw it to one of the guests. A demure bride, who does not want to show too much, wears the garter just above the knee or pulls it down, while a more daring bride raises the skirt of her dress revealing her legs and putting the removal of the garment at the center of attention. Another custom of the past was for the garter to be torn into pieces by the husband and donated to several guests. In a similar way, today in some parts of Italy, the groom's tie is cut into small pieces and distributed among the invited men in exchange for a small cash donation for the bride and groom. These traditions are increasingly rare and unrecognized. 

Glass shattered

The couple must break a glass during the wedding. The more the glass pieces shattered, the more it signifies the years their marriage will endure. In that case, before the big

A Look into past regional wedding traditions in Italy

Italians are proud and zealous with their traditions and customs as is evident in their weddings. Ceremony traditions have been passed down over the ages and different regions have interpreted them in interesting ways. 

Tuscany

In Tuscany brides wore a black wedding dress and a white hat. Since unmarried girls were not allowed to witness a marriage ceremony, the party of bridesmaids was all married women.

Sicily

In Sicily, the wedding was marked by two major occasions. There was a civil part followed by a religious ceremony - the latter being more significant. The groom was considered to be married after going through the religious part of the ceremony. When communicating with outsiders, the wedding date marked their official marriage. True to some of the movies that depict Italian weddings, the bride would arrive at the church on a horseback with torches lighting her path.

Venice

In Venice, the bride would wear two dresses on her big day. Her finest dress would be saved for her last dance while at the reception. As part of their church procession, the bride would walk arm in arm with her “compare” while the groom followed right behind her in a similar arm wrap with the made of honour. 

Other Italian wedding traditions 

The practice of inviting friends and family to mark a wedding dates back to the Roman empire. In what was then of spiritual importance, several women were tasked to dress the same as the bride to prevent a passing evil spirit from distinguishing who is who. This is in contrast with today where the bride enjoys her colors exclusively.

The groom would carry a piece of iron (toc ferro), which was believed to ward off evil spirits (malocchio). Sundays were often marked as wedding days if the weds-to-be sought good fortune to accompany their marriage. Surprisingly, Saturday was that day associated with widows remarrying.

SHARE
Wanted in Rome
Wanted in Rome
Wanted in Rome is a monthly magazine in English for expatriates in Rome established in 1985. The magazine covers Rome news stories that may be of interest to English and Italian speaking residents, and tourists as well. The publication also offers classifieds, photos, information on events, museums, churches, galleries, exhibits, fashion, food, and local travel.
71525
Previous article 10 Most Famous Italian Wines
Next article Life is beautiful in Arezzo