Most Italian weddings are incredibly lavish affairs, where there is absolutely no expense spared. It is a matter of cutting a “Bella Figura” and “keeping up with the Jones’s” so to speak, but is nonetheless a true labour of love. Normally a civil service takes place at the local Comune (Town Hall), rather similar to a Register Office ceremony in the UK. Here there is brief official service, in which the bride and groom declare that they are free to marry, and they then exchange of rings. Therefore in the eyes of the State the couple are now legally married, however in the eyes of the Catholic Church the union is not still not official until it is properly blessed in church.
Often the couple who are to tie the knot, may have been fidanzati (unofficially engaged) for a long period of time, possibly even from their teenage years. In Italy there are strong family values, and things cannot be rushed, and must be done in the right order. Also traditionally, especially in the south, the family have to set the couple up by providing them with their own living accommodation (often an apartment within the family home) and fully kit it out for them. So the bride-to-be and groom have to be somewhat patient !!! In the old days the bride’s family would be responsible for providing a “bottom drawer” with sufficient embroidered linens to last their lifetime.
Traditionally at each side of the church main door two small olive trees were placed as a symbol of good luck. During the church ceremony Mass is said, vows and rings once more exchanged and the union of the happy couple is blessed by the priest.
There follows the all day wedding reception – a mamouth banquet of copious courses which seems to go on forever.
Wedding favors, known as bomboniere in Italian, are handed out to guests as a traditional keepsake in the appreciation of their attendance of the wedding day. These are usually pretty little fabric bags decorated with flowers and ribbons, which contain the confetti, five sugared almonds to symbolise: love; fidelity; longevity; fertility and happiness. These sweets are also said to signify the bitter and sweet times that may occur within a marriage.
In addition, often the sposi, the bride and groom, present gifts to their guests such a small china figurine, a decorative piece of porcelein, perhaps a crystal vase or even a silver photo frame or spoon.
After the wedding the couple drive off in a car decorated with flowers and ribbons.
So you can begin to comprehend why Italian parents have to start saving as soon as each child is born !!!
One of our friends from Caserta has three daughters to marry off –
so he has really got his work cut out !!!