The Ultimate Guide to Italian Wedding Traditions

italian wedding traditions
Source: photo credit: Silvia Sala via photopin cc
italian wedding traditions
Source: photo credit: Silvia Sala via photopin cc

Are you thinking about having a destination wedding in lively, romantic Italy?  Or perhaps an Italian themed wedding?  Italians have many fascinating wedding customs that you may want to incorporate into your own wedding.  At Team Wedding we love Italian weddings so we decided to create the ultimate guide to Italian wedding traditions.

Italian Wedding Ceremony

Firstly, if you want to have the most luck according to the Italians, get married on a Sunday. Also, make sure the groom arrives at the church before the bride, and wait for her arrival there, that’s also a good luck thing for the Italians although we generally agree that the groom better be at the ceremony before the bride no matter the tradition. In some areas of Italy, it is traditional for the groom to wait with the bride’s bouquet in hand.  In other areas, the groom often carries a piece of iron to ward off bad luck (and the possibility of the bride not showing up!).

Another Italian wedding tradition when at the ceremony is to tie a ribbon across the doorway of the church. It signifies that a wedding is taking place. Basically, once the bride arrives, the bride and groom may tie a ribbon into a knot, to symbolize the bond of marriage they are making.  The bride’s father walks her down the aisle, and he “gives” his daughter away (signals his consent to the marriage) by shaking the groom’s hand. 

italian wedding
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Leaving the Church

As the now-married couple walks out of the church, guests should yell “Auguri!” (“Best wishes!”) and clap. The couple will also be showered either with rice or with small bags of candied almonds, to ensure fertility.  These delicacies represent both the sweet and bitter aspects of life, symbolizing for better or worse wedding vows. The bags of almonds usually contain five almonds each signifying 5 good wishes for the bride and groom; health, wealth, happiness, fertility, and longevity. Similar traditional Italian wedding favors are called bomboniere and are typically personalized with the names of the bridal couple.

When leaving the church you should probably not tie cans to the Ferrari/Maserati/Alfa you leave with. Just kidding about the car choice, but if you want to follow the Italian tradition of decorating the front grill with flowers to pave your road to a great life, that’s a great idea.

italian weddings traditions
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The Reception

At the reception, wedding guests, usually males, will shout to the wedding couple “viva gli sposi” (Loosely translated as long live the couple) and make a toast. And hopefully the groom will not be too attached to the tie he wore to the wedding, because it is another Italian tradition to cut the Groom’s tie into pieces and “sell” the pieces to wedding guests, with the money being given to the new couple. Probably considered inappropriate in other cultures or in modern times, though. Then Italian newlyweds will usually break a glass near the end of the wedding reception. The number of pieces of broken glass symbolize the number of years the couple will be happily married.

traditional italian wedding
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The Food

This is an Italian wedding so you better bet your life that food is a focal point. Some Italians eat their way through as many as fourteen different food courses during the wedding. That may be overkill for some, but no matter how many courses you have make sure to pick seasonal, local and fresh food choices  with fun and tasty appetizers (olives, prosciutto, and salami) and hearty entrees (pastas with thick sauces, veal and chicken).

traditional italian wedding
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The Drinks

You can’t beat good Italian wine for the reception. If you’re having a destination wedding in Italy, don’t buy wine at the store, stock up at some local Italian vineyards, you’re sure to find some great wines your guests have never had before. If you’re wedding is stateside, check out the internet for great deals on small batch Italian wines or talk to your caterer about doing something unique.

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The Dancing & Music

Lots of cultures have their “wedding dance” tradition. It is no different for Italian wedding traditions, with the “La Tarantella“. Best described as a frenzied and fun way guests wish the newly married couple good luck. Dancers hold hands and race clockwise until the music speeds up, and then they reverse directions. The tempo and direction continue to change until the group succumbs to the speeding music. So much fun.

traditional italian weddings
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The Cake

Cake isn’t served in many regions of Italy; guests instead receive “confetti,” or candy-coated Jordan almonds symbolizing the bitter and sweet to come. If you can’t imagine your wedding without a cake but want to stick to tradition, serve another regional favorite, mille-foglia, an Italian cake made from layers of light filo pastry, chocolate and vanilla creams, and strawberries.

italian weddings traditions

What to Wear for Good Luck

The bride can do a number of things to ensure good luck.  According to Italian tradition she will need to wear green the night before the wedding, in order to bring prosperity and good fortune, and ensure fertility.  She will also need to avoid wearing gold until after her wedding ring is presented to her during the ceremony.

italian wedding