When it comes to Italian wedding traditions, one must first consider the area. Is it northern, central or southern Italy we are talking about. Or the islands. Italy is such a vast country, with such a long history, that each of the regions have their own culture and customs, also when it comes to weddings. Some traditions are typical for civil weddings, others more common in catholic church weddings. And what often happens, many customs fade away, or get mixed with others, also international ones. So, if you will get invited to an Italian wedding, do not be surprised if you see none of these traditions or will discover others.
However here few traditions and elements, that we can see are still practised in Tuscany and central Italy, and that can easily be integrated in your own wedding theme, without altering too much your own customs:
– Rosemary is said to bring luck. A branch of rosemary looks nice in the bridal bouquet, or even in grooms buttonhole. (And has a beautiful scent of Tuscany;)
– Green is seen as a symbol of fertility, and in some areas of Italy it has the role of ‘something blue‘. Also the rest of the sentence ; “Something borrowed, something new” is fully integrated in Italian wedding traditions.
– Ribbons are considered as a symbol of the bridal couples union, as they are ‘tying the knot’. Ribbons can be tied in the ceremony area, behind the couples chairs, or used in decorations.
– ‘Bomboniere‘ are sugared almonds, that symbolise the bitter sweetness of the married life and are given to the guests as wedding favours, either inside a small pillow, made of tulle, placed on the plates, or served from bowls on a separate favour table after the wedding meal. The almonds, also called confetti, should be given away in odd numbers, 3,5 or 7.
– Before the wedding, traditionally the bride sleeps with her family the night before the wedding, and the groom should not see her before the ceremony.
– Bride is adviced to not to wear gold on her wedding day, to give the full attention to her wedding ring. Wedding rings in Italy are traditionally simple wedding bands, in white or yellow gold. The bands are called ‘fede‘,which means faith.
– Some stories say, that both the spouses should leave their home to the ceremony walking left foot first. Symbol of being humble and equal, when starting the new life together.
– Other stories advice the groom to carry a piece of iron in his pocket, to protect himself against the envy.
– It is not uncommon, that the bride is greeted by the groom and the wedding guests outside the church or the town hall. Then the guests go in, and the bride walks in with her father, or with her groom, depending on if the couple wish to be traditional or have a more modern view about procession to the ceremony.
– In church weddings, the bride wears a veil. The veil is of roman origin, and was invented in Italy.
– It is allowed to clap and cheer when the couple has said their “si”, both at town hall and in church weddings. Sometimes the celebrant will say ” you may kiss the bride”, but this is not part of the official wedding vows.
– After the ceremony, the guests often throw flower petals and rise on the newly wed couple, that symbolises food and fertility. But in many locations throwing rise is not allowed due to difficulty to clean the rise. Some say the rise gets then eaten by doves and other birds, and it is not good for them at all. We do care about birds, don’t we ? Just throw flower petals instead;) Paper confetti is not well received in ceremony locations, again due to the cleaning afterwords.
– You may hear the local people cheer their congratulations to you saying ‘ Viva gli sposi’, ‘Per cent’anni’ or‘Auguri’! The words mean ‘ Long live the newly weds’, ‘ For a hundred years (of happiness)’ and ‘congratulations’!
– The tarantella is a popular southern italian folk dance, characterised by a fast upbeat tempo, accompanied by tambourines. The dance has it’s origins in the symptoms of getting bit by a poisonous spider, called tarantella. The music has been developed in many directions and is seen also as a courtship dance in weddings. It is practised in Apulia, Campagna, Calabria and Sicily, and is not common in weddings in central or northern Italy. We can of course find the musicians to play the music or a group that can perform tarantella for you and even with you, also in Tuscany, just be aware of the origins.
– And then off to the wedding celebrations…there are many delicious traditions around the wedding food in Italy! See more about Tuscan wedding food in our blog section “Tuscan Wedding Food”, dedicated to our favourite subject!