"The Parthenon backdrop is optional..." who doesn't remember that hilarious line from the classic movie "My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding." Adding old world wedding traditions to your modern day wedding is a wonderful way to honor your ancestors. However you don't have to have a mock up of the Coliseum to render it truly Italian. Here are some tips on how to add some traditional, Italian touches to your wedding, without having it look like a big, fat, Italian wedding.
The Wedding Party
Want to really save the headache and drama of bridesmaids and groomsmen? Go the Italian way and eliminate the wedding party. Yes, you heard me. In Italy, weddings are simple. The bride and groom are accompanied solely by "i testamoni" (witnesses), aka, the maid of honor and best man and that's it. Of course, with today's globalization, Italians have caught onto the American tradition of having a wedding party; however, traditional Italian weddings do not consist of a wedding party.
Attention brides-to-be, in true Italian bridal fashion, loose the pearls. In the Italian culture, pearls symbolize teardrops and anxiety, thus rendering them bad luck on your wedding day.
The Church décor
It is customary in Italy, that a ribbon is tied at the church entrance. This ribbon signifies that a union is to take place in the church. It is also the source of the common phrase "tie the knot."
Rice is thrown at the newlyweds upon their exit from the church. Also, instead of renting a limo or limo bus, opt for a vintage car, Alfa Romeo, an original FIAT, or even a Ferrari as your getaway vehicle. Ride in style by decorating the car alla Italiana. In Italy, it is customary to decorate the front grill of the car with flowers, instead of tying cans to the back of it or a "Just Married" sign. The flowers are believed to pave your way to la dolce vita.
Before the food is even served, it is necessary that the best man toasts, "Per cent'anni," or "A hundred years," to wish the new couple a century of good luck with a glass of prosecco, the Italian version of champagne. Another popular toast at weddings is "Evviva gli sposi," (Horray for the newlyweds).
Like any, true Italian festa, food is the main focus. A great way to show tribute to your heritage is to choose a menu that is deeply rooted in the culinary traditions of the region of your origin. Also, do as the Italians do and serve more than one course. A typical Italian wedding consists of several antipasti, at least two pasta dishes and two meat and/or fish dishes, complete perfectly paired side dishes and salad-at the end of the meal, of course. The wine served at the table should also derive from the origin of your ancestry.
Like every other wedding, the wedding cake and other desserts are served after dinner, however at an Italian wedding the dessert is accompanied with espresso, grappa, and other digestive or amari (bitter) drinks. The Italian wedding cake can take many different forms. In recent years, Italians have caught on to the American tradition of having a tiered cake; however that was not always the case. The traditional Italian wedding cake is just one or two tiers but is wider rather than narrow, like American wedding cakes. It is also usually topped with fresh flowers from the florist and/or fruit. It's also typical to serve other cakes other than the wedding cake, such as tiramisù, mille-foglie, or zuppa inglese. Additionally, it would be a nice gesture to serve traditional desserts according to the region of your ancestry. Yet at every wedding in Italy there is always at least one tray of fruit and custard tarts, a classic Italian pastry.
What is a celebration without some dancing? And not just any dancing-la tarantella! The tarantella is a traditional dance performed at weddings to wish the couple a long future together. Participants of this dance form a circle and dance in a clockwise direction, until the music speeds up and the dancers must change direction. The tempo changes several times, forcing the dancers to change direction and dance faster. The tarantella continues until it's impossible to keep up and the circle breaks up. Don't be surprised if someone breaks a glass at the end of the dance either. The number of pieces of shattered glass symbolizes the years the happy couple will share together.
At every Italian wedding, each guest will receive a bomboniera. This is a wedding favor that can take on all different shapes and sizes from a little silver box to a small ceramic dish. It is always accompanied by a mini organza sack, filled with 5 confetti or sugar coated almonds. These almonds symbolize the five wishes for the bride and groom: health, wealth, happiness, fertility, and longevity. A little piece of paper with the bride and groom's names and wedding date is also placed on the bomboniera.
It's always nice to pay tribute your heritage and what better day to do it than on your wedding day. These simple, nice gestures will be sure to render your wedding unique and special. That's amore!