A touch of magic and the feeling of a fairytale is what every couple hopes for on their wedding day. The alluring nature, history, and beauty of Italy make it one of the dreamiest destinations to become partners for life. The history of weddings in Italy dates back to the Roman empire. It’s not surprising that weddings in Italy are rooted in tradition. Here are some Italian wedding traditions you will find at a typical Italian wedding and can incorporate into your own wedding celebration.
The night before the wedding there is a romantic custom of organizing a serenade, la serenata. The groom arrives with his closest friends at the bride’s family home. He will sing to her below her window or balcony in celebration of their impending nuptials. This is considered a mini celebration before the wedding.
La bella figura
In Italian culture, the idea of la bella figura is incredibly important. It literally translates to “the beautiful figure” and more colloquially means “proper decorum”. La bella figura commonly refers to dressing well and making a good impression. There is no difference between attending a formal event or gathering with friends in terms of looking appealing. It signifies dignity, hospitality, and politeness. This is especially important at an Italian wedding for the bride, groom, family, and guests. An Italian wedding is an opportunity to dress up and show off the best version of yourself.
In Italy, the bride’s bouquet is the groom's last gift to her before he becomes her husband. The bride may choose her bouquet but the groom must pay for it and have it delivered to her home on the morning of the wedding day. At the end of the wedding ceremony, the bride will toss her bouquet towards unmarried women, who fight to catch it. The bouquet symbolizes the passing on of tradition and the creation of a family, as the woman who catches the bouquet will be fortunate to be married soon after.
Throwing of rice
The post-ceremony celebrations at an Italian wedding are festive and fabulous. A tradition that was birthed in Ancient Rome is to throw rice at the newlyweds to wish them abundance in their marriage. This tradition has spread across the world. In Italy, there is symbolism in the type of rice thrown at the bride and groom. Carnaroli rice is for sharing and compromise, Basmati rice is for fertility and passion, Arborio rice is for eternal love and Roma rice is for economic and family prosperity.
Confetti & Bomboniere
Bomboniere, which translates to “favors”, are small gifts given to guests of the wedding as a gesture of love and appreciation for their presence. Traditionally, the bomboniere are filled with confetti, sugar-covered almonds, and wrapped in tulle with ribbons. There is always an odd number of confetti, 5 or 7, symbolizing fertility, long life, health, wealth, and happiness.
At the center of every great Italian wedding is an amazing decadent meal. Dating back generations, the most important part of the wedding celebration is built around the wedding feast. Typically, wedding meals begin with an amazing outdoor aperitivo with many antipasti followed by a multiple-course dinner. There is always a wedding cake and pastries as well as an evening or midnight snack.
When you are at an Italian wedding, common expressions or toasts you’ll hear to wish the couple good luck include, “Per cent’anni” (for 100 years), “Evviva gli sposi” (long live the newlyweds), “Un bacio per la sposa” (a kiss for the bride), “Viva l’amore” (long live love) and “Auguri” (many good wishes or congratulations).
It is an Italian superstition that rain on the wedding day is a symbol of good luck for the bride and groom. The rain is a symbol of fertility, cleansing, abundance, and love. It is derived from agricultural regions, connecting to an abundance of crops, that the rain is raining down luck on their future together.
Arianna DiCicco is an educator and writer from California, born into an Italian American restaurant family with strong ties to her grandparents’ home in Abruzzo, Italy. She has lived in San Francisco, Rome, and New York City where she’s made deep connections within the Italian communities and gained new perspectives about her own culture. With a Master's in International Education, Arianna has a love and passion for learning and educating others about Italian history & culture.