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.
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
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?