Wedding in Italy: 7 traditions you should know

Do you have Italian heritage? Or do you love everything Italian and want your wedding to reflect local values and lifestyle? If you want to bring your love for Italian culture into your wedding ceremony, here are some authentic Italian traditions that will make your special day unforgettable and unique:


1. Padlock and keys tradition

This tradition became famous worldwide thanks to the 2004 movie “3 metres above the sky” following the novel with the same name written by Federico Moccia. The couple from his story left a padlock on the Roman bridge Ponte Milvio throwing the key in the Tiber river as a symbol of eternal love. This scene created a trend that followed in other cities, from Ponte Vecchio in Florence, to Pont des Arts in Paris.

Now you can get a fine if the police surprises you with a padlock on the most famous Italian bridges, so, please, don’t do it! You can still honor this tradition for your wedding ceremony, keeping the padlock for yourselves and giving the keys to your bridesmaids or friends, to respect the law and the environment.


2. Preparing the bride and groom bed

In Sicily there is the tradition of preparing the bride and groom’s bed: a day before the wedding the bride’s friends and sisters go to the bride’s house to prepare it. 

They use white linen or silk sheets, often accompanied by lace, and decorate the room. Only the women who know the bride can assist in the preparation. The tradition says there must be at least one unmarried and one married woman.

The “virgin” sheet cannot be touched by married women. It is therefore up to the unmarried girl to physically prepare the bed, under the watchful eye of the married woman (a symbol of knowledge and wisdom), who is usually the mother or mother-in-law of the bride. 

Once everything is completed, a little girl is allowed to jump on the bed a few times, as a symbol of fertility for the couple! Money, sugared almonds, wheat and rice are added between the sheets, as symbols of hope of wealth and joy.


3. Confetti tradition

In Italy we don’t throw confetti at parades and celebrations. We eat confetti! No, not the paper ones. Actually, confetti in Italian are almonds with a hard sugar coating eaten usually at wedding or graduation ceremonies. 

The Italian tradition requires five confetti to be put in a bomboniere – a wedding favor that recalls the wedding theme. Why five? Because these are the qualities that should never be lacking in the future common life of the two spouses: Health, Wealth, Happiness, Long life, Fertility. 

The tradition of sugared almonds has been handed down for generations since the Roman Empire, where unions and births were celebrated with a kind of sugared almond produced with honey, instead of modern sugar.


4. The cut of the tie

The cut of the tie is no longer much appreciated at weddings but it was a thing in the past.  During the reception the groom’s tie was cut into strips and guests who wanted a piece of it were supposed to pay. The knot was considered the most valuable part.

Everything was organized by the groom’s friends.

Sometimes, when the spirits were particularly cheerful, real auctions were organized in which relatives and friends fought over the remains of the tie, with great fun for everyone!

There was a secret though: towards the middle of the wedding reception, the groom replaced his precious tie with a cheap copy of it.

As cheerful as it may sound, I advise you to skip this tradition, please! There are so many great things to do during your wedding ceremony. This is not one of them, really!


5. The breaking of the plate

In Sardinia, the breaking of the plate at the bride’s feet is a custom called “Sa ratzia” (the grace). It appears to send the divine grace to the couple if the ritual is done properly.

First of all, the plate to be broken must still be brand new and intact. The ritual can be done before leaving the house, after the religious ceremony or at the wedding reception.

The task is entrusted to the mothers of the bride and groom: they have to break the plate by throwing it against a hard surface to reduce it to a thousand pieces and thus wish the couple a happy and prosperous future. 

Before proceeding to the rite of breaking, the plate should be full of ingredients that represent fertility and prosperity – such as rice, wheat or petals. 

What if it doesn’t break at the first blow? The ritual must be repeated until the dish is broken into a thousand pieces. It is a good custom not to pick up the pieces and leave them on the ground.


6. The serenade

The serenade to the bride is a tradition from Southern Italy. It should take place the evening before the wedding and should include a live interpretation of romantic or couple-related songs by the groom, singing skills permitting.

If the groom is not a great singer (a rare thing in Italy), he can engage a band or a musician to perform the task for him.

To make the moment even more magical, the groom could study a beautiful set design, with spotlights on the two protagonists, white balloons ready to take flight or anything else to create a romantic atmosphere.

The bride’s parents have to distract their daughter in the moments immediately before the event, so she doesn’t notice it beforehand and enjoys the surprise.


7. Olive branch to the mother-in-law

At the end of the wedding ceremony, after the throwing of the bouquet the tradition requires the bride to give her mother-in-law an olive branch as a sign of peace, union and future alliance.


Did you like these traditions? Do you know some others?

Let me know in the comments!


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