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  • Italian Weddings
    Part 3 of 4: Wedding/Mass Traditions & Customs
    Continued from part 2

    by Anthony Parente

    * Does the bride and groom wear anything special the day of the wedding?
    On the wedding day the bride must wear something blue, something old, something borrowed and something new. These items are supposed to bring the bride good luck and she should honour this custom.

    It is not too difficult to find something new, earrings are usually used for something old, the mother usually lends her handkerchief (used for something borrowed) and why not a blue garter or ribbon to respect the blue color tradition! Among some Italian families it is tradition to hand down from generation to generation the bridal veil. Wearing the grandmother's or great-grandmother's bridal veil means opening a present that comes from the past.

    The groom on his side has to follow some important rules, for example no short socks and no tuxedo. The groom fulfils the tradition wearing black or dark grey thin socks, cufflinks, boutonniere and a tailcoat including a silk top hat and gloves.

    * Are there any colors or items that are considered bad luck if the bride or groom wears them during the wedding?
    As a rule, purple is avoided and in southern Italy nobody gets married in May because it brings bad luck.

    * Are there any special traditions that take place during the mass?
    The religious rite is full of traditions and ancient symbols that represent the holy union of bride and groom and have therefore a deep meaning. Still nowadays in Italy, weddings are celebrated in the church according to the Roman Catholic rite. Friends and relatives wait for the arrival of the bride in front of the church, since the bride must be the first to enter.

    The groom arrives in advance, waits a few minutes in the parvis and enters the church only a few minutes before the ceremony giving his right arm to his mother.

    The bride is usually a few minutes late and her father helps her to get out of the car. The father gives his left arm to the bride and the wedding march starts to be played. The bride's relatives sit on the left side of the church looking towards the altar and the groom's family sits on the right side of the church. The first bench is reserved for the wedding couple's parents and close relatives, the second rows of benches are for grandparents, uncles and aunts, the third rows of benches are for special guests and then distant relatives and friends follow.

    In front of the altar the bride's father gives her daughter away to the groom by shaking the groom's hand and taking his seat on the first left bench. At the very beginning of the rite it is the groom who “unveils” the bride.

    The exchanging of the rings is definitely the climax of the religious and civil wedding and has a strong symbolic meaning in every culture. The wedding ring is the “fede” ring (Italian for faith) both for men and women and it has very ancient and distant origins. The classic wedding band “francesina” never fades, now as in the past the queen among wedding bands: it is thin and slightly rounded in yellow or red gold (fashionable today also in platinum). Apart from the type of wedding bands chosen, it is a common practice to engrave the bride's and groom's names together with the wedding date in the inner side of the rings.

    When the couple exits the church, the celebrations start: the throwing of the rice still remains a good luck symbol normally done both for town hall and church weddings: a symbol of love and prosperity.

    At each side of the church main door it is preferable to put two little olive trees as a symbol of good luck.

    For people who get married for the second time, the Roman Catholic religion doesn't allow a second religious Catholic wedding1. Therefore the ceremony will take place at the town hall, so in a more discreet atmosphere, with a small wedding party and usually the bride doesn't dress in white or with a veil.

    * Does the groom still carry a piece of iron in his pants?
    No, he doesn't.

    * Do wedding /mass traditions vary throughout Italy? Are there different traditions in the south as opposed to the north?
    Above all in Southern Italy but also in Northern Italy the religious wedding is particularly felt and it is celebrated inside the church according to the Roman Catholic rite. The traditions described above are equally spread throughout Italy.

    1You can get remarried in a Catholic Church under two instances. Your spouse has died or you received an annulment from your previous marriage.

    Part 4: Reception Traditions & Customs

    Part 1: Italian Weddings Introduction
    Part 2: Engagement Traditions & Customs
    Part 3: Wedding/Mass Traditions & Customs
    Part 4: Reception Traditions & Customs

    Related Information:

    Answers Provided by:
    Tel from US: 011.378.0549.941108


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