Whether you are Italian yourself and want to plan an authentic wedding or you just want to learn something new, here is everything you need to know about Italian wedding traditions, superstitions, and practices.
Common Italian Wedding Customs
Italian weddings are filled with so many traditions and superstitions it can be difficult to keep track of them all. Why shouldn’t the groom see the bride the morning of the wedding? What is the wedding favor that the couple should give to their guests? Remembering what each individual practice is and why it’s done is not easy.
Use this list of Italian wedding traditions and superstitions to help you keep track of everything you need to know on your wedding day.
Italian Wedding Dates
Friday’s are a great day of the week. They are the official start to the weekend. A time to relax, unwind, and have fun, but not a time to have your wedding. It is unlikely that you will ever attend an Italian wedding that is held on a Friday, however.
That day of the week is said to be bad luck for it was the day evil was created. Sundays are seen as the best day to get married if you want good luck and prosperity.
The Night Before and the Day of the Wedding
It is customary for the bride to spend the night before the wedding at her parents’ house. This is done to ensure that the bride and groom do not see one another the morning of the wedding.
Additionally, the morning of the wedding the bride is not allowed to look at her own reflection. She can only look at herself in a mirror if she takes off an accessory whether it be a glove, a shoe, or a piece of jewelry.
Italians are nothing if not a passionate people. The evening before the wedding, the groom stands outside the window of wherever the bride is staying and serenades her. The wedding party is notified and helps to put the event together, but the bride is meant to stay unaware.
The groom and wedding party often work together to bring in musicians and to make sure the bride has no idea what is going to happen. It is viewed as an acceptance of marriage if the bride is awakened by her groom’s serenade.
The Bridal Bouquet
In Italian tradition, the groom is expected to purchase the bridal bouquet for his future wife. The bouquet is viewed as the final gift the groom gives to his bride before they are married.
In order to ensure that the bouquet matches the bride’s wedding day look, the groom should consult her during the bouquet purchasing process.
Good Luck for Italian Weddings
Everyone wants good luck and Italians are no different. In order to ensure good fortune and ward off evil spirits, the groom will sometimes carry around a piece of iron in his pocket.
The bride often makes a small tear in her veil as a way of opening herself and her future husband up to good luck.
The Maid of Honor and Best Man
While not out of the ordinary, bridal parties are less common in Italian weddings. There is generally only a maid of honor and best man bearing witness. As a result, the maid of honor and the best man play an even more important role in Italian weddings.
Some say that the maid of honor and best man should be responsible for buying the wedding bands for the couple. This is seen as a way for the two to show their love and appreciation for the couple.
Another thing the maid of honor and best man do is tie a ribbon across the entrance to the ceremony. This is done as a way of letting passerby know that a wedding is taking place and they should not disturb the festivities.
At the end of some Italian weddings, the bride and groom are expected to break a wine glass. This is done to determine how long the couple will stay together. The number of broken pieces is supposed to correlate to the number of years the couple will be happily married.
If you have ever watched a movie with a wedding scene then you likely know that guests often throw rice at the couple as they leave their ceremony. The bride and groom are showered in rice because it is seen as a symbol of fertility.
Everyone knows that weddings are expensive. So how are two newlyweds expected to pay for such an extravagant event? With the help of their guests of course!
At the reception the bride will carry a satin bag around for the guests to put envelopes of money in. Some bolder brides will wear the bag around their neck for men to place their money inside in exchange for a dance.
La giarrettiera is the Italian word for garter. As with many groups, Italians participate in a wedding garter tradition. While the tradition has evolved overtime, the same general beliefs apply: receiving the garter is a sign of good fortune and suggests that the person to receive it at the wedding will be married next.
Sometimes the garter is cut into tiny pieces and given out to the guests. To learn more about the history of the wedding garter tradition and to get all your garter questions answered, read this article.
The Groom’s Tie
Some regions of Italy participate in a tradition using the groom’s tie. During the reception, the groom’s wedding tie is cut into numerous small pieces. These pieces are then brought around to the guests and offered up for sale by the groomsmen.
The money gathered from the sale of the pieces is then given to the bride and groom to go toward the cost of the wedding. This practice is often seen as comparable to the practice of the garter toss.
La tarantella or the tarantula is a fun and fast paced dance that guests do in order to congratulate the couple and wish them well in life. The dance starts with guests holding hands and rotating clockwise.
When the pace of the music picks up, the guests will switch directions and begin spinning faster. The pace and the direction of the dancing will continually change as the music changes. This tradition is certainly tiring, but worth it to wish the couple the best of luck.
While not every Italian wedding has a cake, the ones that do have some of the most grand cakes you can possibly find. Italian wedding cakes are generally multi-tiered and decorated with white frosting, which has long been seen as a symbol of purity.
The wedding cake table will also likely be chock-full of candies and other confections.
As the night winds down and the wedding comes to a close, the bride and groom will offer their guests a symbol of their affection and appreciation. This gift that is given to guests is known as a bomboniere.
Bomboniere is made up of a small present and sugar coated almonds known as confetti. This wedding favor symbolizes health, fertility, happiness, and wealth.
Moreover, if you are not opting to have a cake at your reception, the almonds in the box can be had in place of the wedding cake. Since everyone is a little superstitious, the bride and groom should give each guest an odd number of almonds for good luck.
Italians have numerous traditions and superstitions that influence their weddings. Bringing these influences into your ceremony and reception is a great way to bring some excitement and uniqueness to your wedding. Guests are sure to have an amazing and unforgettable time at your one of a kind wedding.
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