I went to Italy in the summer of 2010 to visit my Italian boyfriend, Fabio, who lives in Southern Italy. I stayed there for three months and managed to go to two fabulous Italian weddings. My first Italian wedding was in Casarano, Southern Italy, and the lovely couple was Gianni and Agata. Gianni is a childhood friend of Fabio, my then boyfriend now husband.
The wedding festivities began the night before as friends of the groom and bride knocked on the groom’s front door with guitars, an accordion, and tambourines to serenade him. Of course the groom didn’t answer the door, it was his Italian mother peeking out wondering what was going on. They soon came out on the street dancing and clapping along with everyone else. After these friends and I serenaded the groom and his family in the street for 30 minutes we drove to the Bride’s house to do the same for her, and we brought along the groom. This is a typical tradition of the region of Apuglia (Puglia), Italy.
The wedding of Gianni and Agata was a classic Catholic wedding with all the bells and whistles. In Italy, people can not marry outside, on the beach, or anywhere other than inside a Catholic church. If they refuse that due to conflicting religious beliefs, they must get married in the City Hall. Their wedding however was glamorous inside the cathedral with the tall ceilings and the natural light shining through. After the ceremony was over, they were greeted outside by all of their guests as well as onlookers from the San Domenico square
Unlike receptions in America, Italian receptions take place several hours after the church ceremony is over. The guests are expected to go home, take a break and freshen up, and then head out to the reception about an hour and a half later. This break gives the happy couple the time they need to get a great photo shoot. Gianni and Agata’s reception was held at an amazing resort with green grass and statues everywhere. When we arrived we were served some hors d’oeuvres, and then the bride and groom arrived initiating the starting of the Italian appetizer (aperitivo). We walked into a banquet hall with servers in white coats cutting cheeses and prosciutto, dishing out prawns and squid…it was spectacular. I thought it was the meal. It was an endless sight of fine food. We ate the appetizer for an hour, and then headed to the actual banquet hall to have a full sit down, four course meal. Every Italian wedding I’ve been to in Italy consists of hors d’oeuvres, a huge appetizer, a full sit down meal, a buffet of desserts with champagne, and the cake. The first picture is of the seating chart, followed by the place setting and a rose to take as a souvenir.
This wedding was an unusual Italian wedding as there was plenty of dancing and entertainment. Most Italian weddings are very low-key, centered around eating. Gianni and Agata’s wedding however was the most fun Italian wedding I’ve been to in Italy because of their liveliness.
Here is another picture showing the cake. The classic style in Italy that I’ve seen all over is a three-tier, fat cake. Unlike the American tradition, Italians do not have the tradition of saving the top of the cake to eat on their first wedding anniversary. In fact, they think it’s quite gross to freeze a cake for a year! Regardless, if they save the top or not, Italians do it up big for weddings in their own way!
Today Gianni and Agata have one year old twins, a boy and girl named Francesco and Chiara. Fabio and I are still good friends with Gianni and Agata
It is kind of impossible to give you the overall feeling in one post of what it is like to go to an Italian wedding, especially in the South of Italy. The South and North differ in style, mostly with regards to how much food is served. Italian weddings also differ in so many ways when contrasting with American weddings that I can’t even begin to explain with just one post. You will just have to keep reading to start to see the differences in culture, good and bad! Keep watching, I’ll keep you posted.