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  • I Now Pronounce You – i sposati
    Part 1 of 3: An Italian Wedding

    by Flora Mitidiero Raehl

    The first time I went to Italy was in 1971, I was just ten years old. This trip was going to be full of monumental firsts for my mom, dad and I – it would be the first time my dad was going back to visit his home town since 1956, the first time my mother was going to meet her mother-in-law and the first time I was going to meet my grandmother, Aunt Rosina and Uncle Ciccio. The scenery, the food, and the customs seemed familiar because of the stories I had always been told, but there were some things that were completely new and different for me. Mom's cousin Domenico, whose family happened to be very best friends with my dad's family, was getting married while we were there and it was going to be my first real Italian wedding. Mom and dad were the witnesses – sort of like the best man and matron of honor - so they played a very important role in the wedding and I was one of the flower girls. The days leading up to the actual wedding were packed with details of shopping for what I would wear and what kind of gift my parents were giving. I wasn't involved in any much of the pre-wedding planning, but I remember the day started early and going well into the night.

    Since I was only ten, a lot of the details are sketchy, but what I do remember is it being very hot (it was August), the church service was a typical Catholic wedding ceremony, except that the church was packed. Alessandria del Carretto is a very small town and everyone either knows everyone else or is related to them, so it seemed like the entire town was there. After the wedding ceremony, everyone walks from the church to wherever the reception is – the bride and groom leading the way through the town's streets, the bagpipes and the tambourines next, and everyone else following behind throughout the entire town. The thing about this wedding that stands out in my mind is that when we finally arrived at the reception, the men went to one building where all the food and liquor was, the women and children went to a different building for coffee and cake. I remember sitting next to my mom, seeing my father across the courtyard and waving to him. At some point, both groups of men and women began congregating in the courtyard and everyone started dancing the tarantella. I was very familiar with this dance because every family party we ever had growing up ended with the furniture being moved out of the way so we could all dance while my dad, uncle and grandfather played the tambourines and concertina.

    Fast forward some forty years later and I find myself in Italy going to two weddings while I'm visiting. It truly does seem that the more things change, the more they stay the same because these weddings, although somewhat more modern, were very reminiscent of my first Italian wedding experience.

    Part 2: Trebisacce Wedding


    Article Published 4/19/11

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