As an American expat in Italy who married a descendant of the Roman gods a guy from Calabria, I had the luxury of a ready-made wedding theme when we tied the nodo in 2007. Although we got married in Texas, we looked for ways to infuse his southern Italian culture into our Big Day and since Italian wedding traditions are so charming … we didn’t have to look far for fun, fresh ideas.

If you’d like to inject some southern Italian wedding traditions into your wedding, or are just curious about what the heck they do down here, then read on.

Here are Five Fun Southern Italian Wedding Traditions

1. Sit Down and Eat

Ok, so couples around the world host a sit down dinner for their wedding reception and there is not a dang thing Italian about it. However, Calabrians always* host a sit-down dinner, complete with seven, nine, even eleven courses. One wedding I attended a few years ago was an 11-course feast, complete with two rounds of antipasto, three rounds of “primi” plates, sorbet, two rounds of seafood dishes, a round of meat, fruit, then finally dessert.

2. Confetti per Tutti

You know those brightly colored Jordan almonds people sometimes have at their weddings? Well, that is an Italian wedding tradition that is surpassed by no other. Three-to-five white almonds wrapped in netting are usually attached the wedding favor and offered to the guests as a thank you gift. Additionally, they are often mixed with rice and thrown at the happy couple as they exit the church.

Ouch …

3. Cut the Tie

In some parts of the region, the groom’s friends “steal” his tie, cut it into small pieces and sell them to guests to help the newlyweds pay for their honeymoon. (However, if you are really getting married in Calabria, then you probably know your guests are expected to offer you a busta of several hundred euros, so I’d skip the tie thing, as well as the money dance, and other traditions that drain your guests of more soldi … but maybe that is just me.)

4. Wedding Day Meet and Greet

One of my favorite southern Italian wedding traditions occurs on the morning of the Big Day. The groom and his family-and the bride and hers-each have party trays delivered to their homes the  morning of the wedding. Their closest friends and family members are invited to stop by and see the soon-to-be-espoused, have coffee or Prosecco and enjoy pastries and confetti candies.

5. Decorate the Car

Everyone’s car!

The newlyweds’ families distribute ribbons and bows for the guests to tie to their cars. The guests all drive from the church to the reception in a line and passerby often honk their horns, congratulating the happy couple on their marriage.

What other southern Italian wedding traditions did I miss? What are some of your favorite wedding traditions from around Italy?

*Always, as in, every wedding I’ve been to and ever heard of-have you ever heard of a Calabrian wedding that didn’t have a sit-down dinner?

6 Responses
  1. Before our wedding my husband warned me that sometimes people throw coins at the couple when they exit the church! Worse than confetti, no? Fortunately it didn’t happen to us. I don’t know how widespread the coin-throwing practice is (I hope not very much!)

    Ha! Well, given the state of the economy …

    .-= KC´s last blog ..More fun with bath toys =-.

  2. Love it….this blog sums up pretty much every single Italian wedding I’ve ever been to! 😛 I remember when my older cousins got married, we went to their house and made the decorations to stick on all the cars. Sadly, most churches here don’t allow for the rice, confetti throwing after the ceremony. I’ve seen some people substitute it with bubbles though! 🙂

    Yea, bubbles aren’t quite the same thing as a nice big Jordan almond to the head, now are they?? 🙂

  3. Pat

    We call it a’ busta in Jersey too…such as gee, did cousin Tony go heavy on a’ busta at Rosie’s wedding, you know he always has to be a big bluffone? Translation: Gee, did cousin Tony put a lot of money in the wedding envelope for Rosie, you know he loves to show off?…my grandmother used to say that in the old days the bride’s mother and groom’s mother would undo the marital bed on the wedding night together, before the bride and groom got there, that was the tradition. I know from a friend that in his wife’s hometown in Sicily they still have the tradition of teenage virgins in the family unmaking the bed, I kid you not. In the States, in my mother’s day, the 1960s, Italian American women still got a bridal doll at the shower that they were supposed to keep on their bed after they got married. The doll was dressed like a bride with a puffy dress. My mother still has hers. I read once that this was an ancient Roman custom for fertility.

    Wow! I’d heard of the teenage virgin thing but had no idea people still did that. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Pat

    Did I mention the bomboniere in the china closet or the confetti that stay fresh for a thousand years? Plus the maid of honor and best man were automatically godparents for baby number one, unless the maid of honor was pregnant, in which case she couldn’t act as godmother as per tradition and you’d have to pick someone else, which was actually the case with my mother’s maid of honor when I was born.

    How interesting re: the Godparents. I’ve never heard that!

  5. Roseann Milano

    Do you know what the trays delivered to the families of bride and groom are called?
    In Connecticut there is a tradition of the b/g carrying a tray around the room for guests to take a cookie or two. (After they change into their travel clothes.)
    I can say the word in Neapolitan but have no idea how to spell it.

    1. Cherrye

      I’m not sure, I think I’ve heard the term guantera or guantiera used – which refers to the fancy tray the cookies, chocolates and confetti are served on.