Italian Wedding Traditions and Customs
During the proposal, a groom will typically serenade her first and then present her with a diamond ring because of the belief that a diamond was created by the flames of love.
Sunday weddings are the luckiest and if a bride wears green the night before the wedding, it will bring luck and abundance to the couple. Conversely, if she wears gold on the day of the wedding or before it, she will receive bad luck.
On the way to the church, the bride and groom will receive several challenges involving a fallen broom, a crying baby, or other household chores to test their skills before marriage. In Northern Italy, the groom brings the bride’s bouquet and he chooses the color and style of the flowers as his gift to her.
To ward off the evil-eye from envious people, a groom should carry a piece of iron (toc ferro). At the reception, all the men at the reception are supposed to kiss the bride for good luck and to make the groom jealous.
Strong drinks are served to start the festivities and to toast the couple with “Per Cent’anni” which means “for 100 years.” Other popular toasts are “Evviva gli sposi” which means “Hurray for the newlyweds” and is shouted whenever there’s a lull in the party or shouts of “kiss for the bride” mean that the newlyweds must kiss to show their affection.
During the reception, the bride carries a satin pouch where guests can place envelopes of money for the chance to dance with her. Of course no reception would be complete without dancing the traditional tarantella, which is the dance of the spider and involves light and quick movements with passionate hand gestures.
The food is almost as important as the ceremony and guests may be served up to 14 different courses and of course the cake is served with espresso. The groom also has his tie cut into little pieces that are then sold off to the guests by the groomsmen to pay for the band. The groom should probably bring a cheap tie for this event.
One of the oldest traditions is the giving of candy-coated Jordan almonds. Meant to represent the bittersweet nature of marriage, these treats are given to guests wrapped in tulle, or pretty pouches, in quantities of 5 or 7, which are lucky numbers.
At the end of the wedding day, a couple would break a vase or glass and the number of pieces was supposed to represent the number of years that they would be happily married.
As in many cultures, during the reception, friends of the groom would sneak away to play tricks on the couple such as walling-in the door of the couple’s new home or putting itching powder on the bed. Finally, after the wedding in Naples, instead of thank you notes, brides are expected to bake cakes or some other baked good to thank her guests for attending the wedding.