Italian Wedding Traditions

 Ambasciata:  In the past, the wedding was organized by a family memeber or matchmaker.  The matchmaker would carry a message or “ambaxciata” to the bride-to-be’s family in the hope to be accepted.  Should the bride’s family accept the fiance’s proposal, wedding bells would be forseen in the future.

Serenade: In some parts of Italy, on the night before the wedding,  a party known as a Serenade, is thrown outside of the bride’s home by the groom. His family and friends come and wait for the bride, entertaining themselves until she appears. The groom then sings to his bride to further seduce her. Once his song is sung, the grooms family and friends are invited by the parents of the bride for a buffet.

Sposa Bagnata, Sposa Fortunata:  “Wet Bride, Lucky Bride”, a tradition indicating that if it rains on your wedding day, you will have a very fortunate marriage.  The rain symbolizing abundance and good luck spilling over onto the new family.

Di Venere e di Marte Ne’si Sposa ne’si Parte:  “On Friday and Tuesdays one does not marry and one does not depart”.  Tuesdays are known as the day of the God of war “Mars”.  Friday is known to the Cabala as the day evil spirits had been created.  Other countries exclaim Friday is the most romantic day, as it is under protection of Venus, the God of love and harmony.

The Mirror:  It is custom that the groom should never see the bride’s dress and the bride, on her wedding day, should not look  at herself in the mirror.  Unless a shoe or a glove is removed before attempting this.

The Wedding Procession:  Some villages of Italy still practice this custom of the groom walking the bride and the wedding party to the church.  Objects such as a broom may be encountered along the way.  The bride picks up the broom to symbolize that she will keep a clean home.  A crying baby would be comforted by the bride to illustrate she will be a good mother.

Borsa:  A satin pouch, carried by the bride during the reception, to hold gifts of money received.  This pouch is guarded by the bride’s grand-mother during the festivities.

The Wedding Bouquet: In Italy the groom buys the bouquet for the bride.

Per Cen’tanni: “for a hundred years” A toast given by the best-man, then drinks are passed aroung by the best-man.

Bomboniera:  paper confetti and/or white sugar coated almonds illustrating purity.  Rice is usually thrown upon the bride & groom after they are wed.  This is for a sign of abundance and prosperity.  White dove couples are also sometimes released to signify the joy and bond of the new couple.

Shattered Plate:  As the wedding ceremony concludes, the bride and groom traditionally smash a plate together.  The number of pieces broken signifies the number of years of happy marriage to be enjoyed as husband and wife.

It is also traditional for the grooms family to give a dowry to the bride and to provide the engagement ring. The bride’s family is then responsible for receiving the guests of the wedding in their home for a reception afterward.

The color green is very important in the Italian wedding. In Italy, the tradition of something blue is replaced with something green. This color brings good luck to the married couple. The veil and bridesmaids also were important in an Italian wedding. The tradition began in Ancient Rome when the veil was used to hide the bride from any spirits that would corrupt her and the bridesmaids were to wear similar outfits so that the evil spirits were further confused.

An old Roman custom was that brides threw nuts at rejected suitors as they left the ceremony.

In Sicilian customs, the dessert course is often presented as a Venetian Table, a dazzling array of pastries, fruits, coffees, cakes, (etc) presented in great quantity with much celebration. This is often called Venetian Hour.

After dessert, more dancing commences, gifts are given, and the guests eventually begin to leave. In Southern Italy, as the guests leave, they hand envelopes of money to the bride and groom, who return the gift with a wedding favor, a small token of appreciation.

The night before the wedding, two unmarried young women (sign of purity) prepare the bed.

Throwing the bouquet, the girl who catches the bouquet will soon receive a marriage proposal.  Traditionally, the bouquet was made of orange blossoms representing abundance, happiness and prosperity.

Threshhold: Holding the bride in your arms while you pass by the new house was done to avoid the bride from tripping which would be bad luck.  Dates back to Roman times, they believed Divine spirits did not want to welcone the bride into the new home should she trip.

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