Many will seem familiar, but they go all the way back to Roman times.
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There is something so appealing about an Italian wedding. The very idea of it may conjure up thoughts of a big, long table filled with delicious food; family and friends chatting away; beautiful flowers, and the family priest watching over the celebrations.
Well, you might not live in Italy, but you can certainly add a Mediterranean touch to your own wedding if you look at these beautiful traditions. Many are similar to those you’ll be familiar with, but are rich in meaning and date back to Roman times.
1The night before
We’re accustomed to making sure the bride and groom don’t see each other the night before their nuptials, but in Italy the bride-to-be wears something green to bed to bring good fortune to the marriage.
As well as having something old, something, new, something borrowed, and something blue, an Italian bride also needs to wear something that was given as a gift. It’s also important that the bride doesn’t wear any gold on her Big Day other than her wedding band.
3Appropriate wedding dress
If a couple marries in a church, then it’s important that the dress reflect the occasion. Most brides will opt for a modest dress that is not bare-shouldered or cut low in the front. The length should also not be above the knee. Female guests should also respect this dress code.
4The surprising reveal
In some regions of Italy, brides are not allowed to look at themselves until after the ceremony. Mirrors are banished from her sight and she has to pray that she’s looking exactly as she had planned!
5Some strange rituals
In some regions in Italy, the groom will go to church with a piece of iron in his pocket to ward off any evil spirits. And strangely, the bride rips her veil to bring luck to their union.
6The wedding ring
While Italians wear their rings on their left hand as in anglophone countries, what is charming is the reason why. Apparently this was popular in Roman times, when people believed there was a vein that ran directly from the left ring finger to the heart — the vena amoris, or “the vein of love.” Also, the name for wedding ring is very apt: fede, meaning “faith.”
In Italy, guests will throw rice at the couple as a symbol of fertility. However, in some regions this is replaced by wheat, which has the same meaning.
A very fun tradition is for a bride and groom to cut a log in two using a double-handed saw. While this might seem a little like hard labor, it is done to symbolize that marriage is a partnership. Alternatively, some newlyweds will tie a ribbon in front of the church, therefore “tying the knot.”
The receptions are lively, and you might see guests banging their glasses with spoons throughout the occasion. This is not for speeches. They’re trying to encourage the couple to kiss!
10Cut the tie
Cutting things seems a recurrent theme in Italian weddings. In some parts of northern Italy, the groom’s tie is cut into several pieces by the best man and is then offered up for sale to the guests.
11The reception ends
In Italy, the newlyweds stay right and until the end of the reception. And even after, they’re not always alone. Sometimes close friends will stay on drinking with the couple, and even walk them to their new home.
Similar to the favors we see at weddings in North American, the couple will give out some “confetti,” which is actually sugared almonds. But be careful, they have to be odd in number, usually 5 or 7, to bring luck to the couple.