Italian Weddings Part 2: Italian Wedding Traditions

It is possible to get married in Italy. To complete your destination wedding, why not include some Italian traditions? It’s a great way of personalizing your big day by adding a little bit of Italy. You can bring your guests into the Italian culture with some or all these wonderful Italian wedding traditions.

Some traditions cross cultures. Photo by John Hope


The Engagement

Although white is today the preferred color for brides, it was not always so. In Tuscany, brides wore a black dress with a white veil or hat. In Venice, a bride would wear her second-best dress to the church, while her best gown would be saved for the ceremony.

The origins of the bridal veil date back to ancient Rome. The bride would wear a long, white veil covering her face to prevent them from seeing each other prior to their marriage. This is to protect purity and ensure that an arrangement has been made.

The bride stays at her parents’ house the night before the wedding. Green was a symbol of fertility and luck in the past. It is a tradition that the groom will deliver flowers to his bride on this night. These flowers were once the bride’s bridal bouquet. They also represented the last gift she received as a single person.

While a bride can now choose her bouquet, it is still custom that the groom will pay for it and deliver it to his bride. While many of the traditional wedding traditions from Italy are no longer followed by couples who choose modern weddings, some have been modified by each couple.


Be careful! Follow the Italian wedding traditions and your guests will most likely shower you in rice after your ceremony. Photo by Sandrino (flickr).


The Wedding

Traditional weddings were held on Sunday. It was a holy day that guaranteed a lifetime full of happiness. Any other day was unlucky. Although this is no longer true, Saturday is still a popular choice. Sunday is still the top choice for couples who want to get married in Italy.

The testimoni (or witnesses) are the bride and groom. Contrary to American weddings, witnesses are not expected to dress the same as the bride and groom. There may be only one or two bridesmaids or one or two groomsmen.

On the day of the wedding, the guests (and sometimes the groom!) will be waiting outside the church. The bride will arrive at the church after guests have waited outside. The bride will arrive later than expected, and the groomsmen will tease her about it. It was common for the groom in some parts of Italy to keep a piece of iron (toc ferro), in his pocket to protect him from bad luck and evil spirits.

In certain regions, the couple will break a vase to signify the year of happiness together. This tradition was featured in “When in Rome”, a film starring Josh Duhamel, Kristen Bell, and Kristen Bell.

The wedding ceremony is over and the guests leave the church to greet the bride and groom. To symbolize fertility, it is customary to throw rice at the bride and groom as they leave the church.

The Reception


It is one of the many benefits of getting married in Italy. This backdrop might be the perfect setting for your reception! Photo by John Hope

The Italian wedding, like most Italian celebrations is centered on food. Guests can expect to be full after the event. The bridal party is expected to wait until they arrive at the reception hall before being introduced to the couple. While they wait for the bride or groom to arrive, guests are often offered an aperitivo and appetizers while they wait.

You don’t need to eat too many appetizers. The main course will likely be a primo and secondo. Some even have more than one! A “Venetian Hour”, a Sicilian tradition, is still in place. You will find a large dessert table that offers a wide range of pastries, cakes, and other desserts throughout the reception.

Although not all regions of Italy are able to dance at their weddings, others do. The traditional South Italian wedding dance Tarantella is still a part of the celebration. Throughout Italy, guests often sing traditional songs about love, relationships, and the wedding night to the newlyweds.

The bride may carry a purse or borsa, or money envelopes from her guests, similar to American weddings. In exchange, she might dance with her guests.

Confetti is one tradition that has remained strong. Confetti is not small pieces of paper, but white candy-coated almonds. You can choose from a variety of flavors, such as pistacchio or cognac, but the confetti is meant to be small pieces of paper and white candy-coated almonds.

The newlyweds will be wished good luck by their guests with “Evvivagli sposi!” meaning “hurray for them” or “Percent’anni!” which means wishing them a 100-year-long wedding. The couple will be likely to kiss often as they drink champagne and guests cheer with “un bacio for la sposa!”


Some regions of Italy will have traditions that feel special, such as leaving the ceremony on a boat in Venice. Photo by Luca Fazzolari

It doesn’t matter if you are choosing to marry in Italy because of the beautiful scenery, family or long-held dreams to visit the country, it is worth incorporating some Italian wedding traditions into your big day. Weddings are a celebration, and the Italians know how to celebrate. Just think: a rainy day is good luck in Italy, and it’s a sign of a happy marriage.