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United in Diversity
Fourth Visit in SATU MARE
7th/12th October 2013
“Sposa Bagnata, Sposa Fortunata”
Weddings in Italy
An Italian saying goes:
“Sposa bagnata, Sposa fortunata”
(Wet bride is lucky bride.)
It is exclaimed when it rains during a wedding
ceremony. The relation between Italy and her sea is
indeed a wet marriage.
I t aly is a gif t of t he
Medit er r anean.
Italy’s climate and military history are hinged
upon the “the sea among lands”, as
translated from the Latin word
The sea was an easy vector for those in search of new resources.
The shores of Italy provided fertile lands and safe harbors.
Italian Wedding Traditions
Italian weddings are filled with cultural symbolism and
traditions from the proposal to the ceremony and reception.
A wedding is a celebration of
romance, of two people joining
lives, and of two families
As modern society becomes
increasingly diverse, many
couples personalize their wedding
by incorporating family and
By following customs, each family
is honored and introduced to the
culture they now share.
These connections are especially
important in Italy, with its history
of large, close-knit families.
Ancient Roman Customs
Italian wedding customs are among the oldest in the world, dating back to Ancient Roman ceremonies.
The Roman goddess Juno, guardian of marriage, home, and childbirth, made June the most popular month for
weddings, a ranking which still stands today.
A Roman bride wore a veil to disguise her from evil spirits, and she carried a bouquet of herbs to represent fidelity and
Wedding rings provided a public symbol of the marriage bond, just as they do today.
After the ceremony, guests tossed rice at the couple or broke bread over the bride's head to represent fertility, and the
groom carried his bride over the threshold of their home.
Many of these customs can be found at twenty-first century weddings, demonstrating the longevity of cultural
Getting Engaged in Italy
In the past, Italian wedding engagements were usually orchestrated by the
families of the bride and groom.
• Lineage was of the most importance, and if the bride's father had any doubts,
negotiations could stop in their tracks. In some cases, a matchmaker sent a
message (masciata) to the prospective bride's family of the man's hope to
• If her family found the groom's proposal acceptable, there would be wedding
bells and a marriage.
Diamond engagement rings have been
popular with Italian brides since the
Italians have long held that diamonds are
created by the f lames of love.
In medieval Italy, grooms even paid f or
• Italian men often propose through music, either by playing a
romantic song to their beloved or serenading her with the
help of musically inclined friends. The song may be a romantic
ballad or may include questioning lyrics that offer the
• Once engaged, a couple celebrates their impending nuptials
with the typical round of parties and showers throughout the
community. It is good luck for the bride-to-be to wear green
the night before the wedding, which symbolizes the
abundance that will follow the couple throughout their
Italy's population is more than eighty percent Roman Catholic, and a traditional mass is the
most frequent type of wedding ceremony.
The morning of the wedding, before the bride is dressed in her bridal splendor, the couple
shares an early communion.
The bride avoids wearing gold jewelry before she dons her wedding ring during the
ceremony, since other jewelry would detract from the ring's symbolism and the vows it
The groom, meanwhile, may carry a piece of iron in his pocket to ward off the evil eye.
The church is often decorated with ribbons to symbolize the marriage
During the ceremony, the wedding rings, which are often simple and
lack jewels or adornments, are blessed as part of the ritual mass.
The custom of a unity candle is often included, which involves both the
bride and groom using small candles that represent their individual
families to light a larger, central candle that represents the new family
they are creating.
This symbolizes the merging of the two families. The two individual
candles may be lit by parents or siblings to further include family
members and strengthen the symbolism
An old Italian proverb, "it is around the table that friends understand best the
warmth of being together," is often used as a toast at wedding receptions, and
it states perfectly the importance of food as part of the celebration.
An Italian wedding reception frequently includes an elaborate meal lasting four
hours or longer, and may involve up to fourteen individual courses.
One of the final courses is the wedding cake, or zuppa inglese
Dancing is an integral part of any wedding celebration, and no Italian wedding would be complete
without the traditional tarantella dance
Legend has it that a woman bitten by the poisonous tarantula can be cured by dancing at the proper
tempo. Participants join hands to form a large circle, and begin dancing clockwise. As the tempo changes,
the circle speeds up and changes direction, continuing faster and faster to see who can best keep up the
frantic pace until finally even the best dancer succumbs to the laughter and confusion.
Many couples provide wedding favors, or bomboniera, to their guests, and candied almonds are the traditional favor in
White almonds are preferred because they represent purity, but colored almonds may be used to coordinate with the wedding colors. The
sugar coating is symbolic of sweetness, and combined with the bitterness of the almond the confection represents the sweet and bitter sides
During the reception, the groom's tie can
be cut into pieces and sold to provide
honeymoon money for the happy couple
The Getaway Car and the Road to
When leaving the reception, the couple's getaway car is decorated with flowers,
especially the front grill and hood of the vehicle. This is believed to help pave the way
for the couple to have a happy marriage.
Other Italian customs that are easy to
include in a modern wedding
A tradition from the southern regions of Italy has the bride and groom
shatter a glass at the end of the wedding day. The number of pieces the
glass shatters into symbolizes the number of happy years the couple will
The groom should carry a piece of iron in his pocket (Tocco Ferro) on the
wedding day to ward off the evil eye (mal'occhio) and any other bad
luck that might come along.
For the traditional Italian custom of 'buste', the bride will carry a satin
bag (la borsa) in which guests place envelopes of money to defer the
expenses of customarily lavish Italian weddings
Confetti (bomboniera), are tied in mesh bags and tossed at the couple
instead of rice or birdseed. Traditionally this was to ward off
childlessness and symbolize the union of bitter and sweet. The number
of confetti in each bag is very important. It should never be an even
number, because that is bad luck. 5 or 7 are each good luck numbers. A
little bag could be placed at each table setting.
Traditionally, weddings in Italy are not held during Lent, Advent, the
month of May, which honors the Blessed Mother, and the month of
August, which is a popular vacation time
• Sunday marriages are believed to be the luckiest.
In Veneto it is customary for the Italian couple getting married to walk
to the wedding chapel together. The townsfolk place obstacles in the
bride's path to see how she will react to domestic situations. If she
picked up a broom, for example, she will keep a clean house. If they put
a child in her way and she stopped to help him, she will be a good
• In some regions, the bride and groom must cut a log in half before they
reach the wedding site, using a double handled saw. This demonstrates
their partnership in love and marriage
sses of wine. "Evviva gli sposi" - "hurray for the newlyweds." Guests respond with thundering applause. This toast is shouted whenever t
room to stand and show their affections for all the guests to see.
And Now Let’s Toast to the Newlyweds
One popular custom is a toast, usually made by a male guest after a few glasses of
"Evviva gli sposi"
- "hurray for the newlyweds."
Guests respond with thundering applause. This toast is shouted whenever there is a
lull in the wedding celebration, renewing spirits and enthusiasm.
"Kiss for the bride"
is another popular Italian toast.
It calls for the bride and groom to stand and show their
affections for all the guests to see.