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  • Fuse Italian Tradition into Your Wedding
    Our Paesani

    by Francesca Di Meglio

    The wedding season is well underway in Italy - and many parts of the world. Just ask my boyfriend Antonio, who lives in Italy, and went to two weddings in the last week. If you are planning your nuptials, consider including authentic Italian tradition into your ceremony and reception. Here are some of the more well-known ones:

    Ring in a new life. In Italy, couples often give each other simple gold bands to show their commitment. These rings do not necessarily mean you have set a date; they simply signify that you see your future together. Some men also opt to give a diamond engagement ring to the bride-to-be once wedding plans have been put into motion. This is a throw-back to the past when Italian men had to offer precious stones to the bride's family to get permission to wed her.

    American-style engagements that have become more and more elaborate, with things like the man getting down on one knee and hiding the ring in a chocolate cake, are virtually unheard of in Italy. Instead, the couple is usually alone and the groom simply asks for his girlfriend's hand in marriage.

    Get the look. Italy is the land of high fashion - and the wedding aisle is the ultimate runway. Brides often wear dramatic gowns in traditional white. Historically, their white veils covered their faces to symbolize their virginity and the fact that they had not yet known a man.

    As opposed to American tradition, which dictates that the groom wear a tuxedo, Italian men wear high-class, dark suits with a tie at their weddings. The bride and groom rarely, if ever, have a bridal party. Instead, they each choose a witness.

    Lavender- or violet-colored flowers or attire, which are popular at many weddings, is a no-no for participants and guests because Italians think that color brings bad luck.

    Plan properly. Most Italians are Catholic and marry in church. The church prohibits weddings during Lent and Advent. And Italians believe May and August bring bad luck. The churches and homes of the bride and groom are often decorated with elaborate ribbons to symbolize tying the knot.

    The groom is a man of steel. To ward off evil spirits, Italian grooms carry a piece of iron in their pocket.

    Think pretty. Instead of strapping old tin cans to the bride and groom's getaway car, Italians decorate it with flowers and ribbon.

    Be old-fashioned. In Venice, a traditional bride and groom walks to pick up friends and family for the reception after the ceremony. In other regions, especially in the south, tradition calls for having the newlyweds saw a log in half to prove they can work together forever.

    Eat and be merry. Like everything else in Italian life, weddings revolve around good food. Before the banquet, women drink sweet liquors and men indulge in the harder stuff. This is often followed by an elaborate meal featuring antipasto, two kinds of pasta, a main course, a second course, wedding cake and cookies. Fried dough twists smothered in powdered sugar, which are often called bow ties by Americans, are eaten to bring a sweet life to the new couple.

    Evviva il vino. Italians are famous for their wine making and consumption, which is why wine is traditionally used for the toast. Typical toasts to the bride and groom include "Evviva gli sposi," which means "Hurray for the bride and groom." The guests also clink their glasses with a fork or spoon, which prompts the newlyweds to display their affection with a kiss for all to see.

    Just dance. Boisterous Italian guests give it their all on the dance floor. Everyone must participate in the Tarantella, a folk dance that originated in Naples that requires the guests to make a circle around the newlyweds. At Italian weddings the guests often give money as a gift. The bride sometimes puts a white satin bag around her neck and invites male guests to put their money gifts in the bag in exchange for a dance with her.

    Do not handle with care. Although I have never heard of this tradition, nor do I know any Italians who have done this at their wedding, many wedding Web sites say that at the end of the Italian reception, the groom breaks a glass vase. The remaining pieces supposedly represent the number of happy years the couple will share.

    Favor the guests. Newlyweds in Italy often give their guests a gift made of pottery, porcelain or glass wrapped in tulle with Jordan almonds (also thought to bring good fortune).

    Article Published 6/5/2005


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