Italian holidays and special events are filled with rich traditions that vary from region to region, and weddings are no exception. Characterized by cherished customs, they symbolize the unity of families and celebrate blossoming love. Here are four unique Italian wedding traditions that couples choose to incorporate into their big day.
Bomboniere & Confetti
Bomboniere (or wedding favors, as we call them in the United States) are a big deal in Italy. In fact, they’re so important, many nonne (grandmas) dedicate entire cabinets in their homes to the display of bomboniere they've collected from weddings over the years!
So, what kind of favors are usually included? Typically, couples gift their guests with useful or decorative items for the home, such as wooden cutting boards, small moka pots, or little tchotchkes. However, though favors may vary from event to event, a staple that can always be relied upon to make an appearance is confetti. Not to be confused with the colorful paper we throw into the air during celebrations, these are sugar-coated almonds that come in assorted colors (and are often called Jordan almonds in the US). The medieval town of Sulmona, located in Abruzzo, is renowned throughout the country for its production of confetti and is often dubbed the "home" of this beloved treat. Typically, wedding confetti are packaged in bundles of five or seven, which are considered lucky numbers in Italy.
In the south of Italy specifically, the bride can look forward to receiving la serenata (a romantic serenade performed outside her home) from her future husband on the night before their wedding. And rest assured, the groom doesn't hesitate to pull out all the stops, bringing balloons, fireworks, friends, family, and sometimes even live musicians. The less musically inclined may also choose to hire a professional singer to croon on his behalf, after which the bride emerges from her house to celebrate her impending nuptials!
The Wedding Cake
After being served multiple courses of food at the reception (Italian weddings are never lacking in food!), guests can look forward to eating delicious millefoglie. Literally translated as "a thousand layers", millefoglie is a wide, flat cake that is commonly served at weddings in Italy. It's made up of several layers of puff pastry, berries, and cream, and has powdered sugar sprinkled on top. Light and refreshing, it’s the perfect dessert following several courses of rich and delicious Italian food.
In many regions of southern Italy, a traditional folk dance called la tarantella is performed by wedding guests to bring good fortune to the bride and groom. Also known as "the dance of the spider", it finds its origins in 15th-century Puglia and was thought to have been a dance that women used as a cure for venomous spider bites. Over the course of history, la tarantella evolved into a beloved cultural dance performed at weddings and involves participants joining hands in a circle and dancing joyously around the newlywed couple. The manner in which the dance is performed and the song that accompanies it varies between regions, but it is always lively and upbeat!
Emily Rascon is from San Diego, California and is currently in the process of completing her Masters in Human Geography through the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz. She has always had a passion for traveling and learning new languages, having lived in Germany and now Italy. Emily loves reading books, going hiking, and of course, practicing her Italian! In addition, Emily enjoys creating content on TikTok, where she documents her life abroad and encourages people to find the confidence to pursue their inner wanderlust.