Italian weddings share some customs with other cultures, though of course the Italians always have to do everything with a special flair that’s unique to their country.
An engagement ceremony is held before the wedding, which is attending by bride and groom’s relatives.
As in other countries, Italian brides and grooms walk together to the church.
However, in Italy, onlookers will place obstacles in the bride’s path as a way of testing her to see how she will react to problems in her marriage.
In Italy, it’s a popular custom to tie a ribbon across the front of the church as a symbol of the bond being forged by the new couple.
Just as in other cultures, the Italians have rituals designed to ward off evil before the wedding.
Italian grooms will often carry a piece of iron in their pockets to ward off evil spirits, while the Italian bride’s veil is intended to protect her face from any evil spirits that might be lurking around.
Food is very important in Italian weddings, just as it is in Italian culture in general.
Guests at an Italian wedding reception are usually treated to a great feast of Italian delicacies, including sweet liqueurs and other strong spirits.
The wedding feast may include as many as 14 different courses, accompanied by different beverages.
At the end of the feast, the traditional multi-layered Italian wedding cake is eaten, with guests enjoying cups of coffee or espresso to wash it down.
Another traditional Italian wedding treat is sugared almonds.
Guests receive a small porcelain box or a tulle bag (known as a bomboniere) of almonds at their place settings at the reception.
Often the bomboniere will be imprinted with the names and wedding date of the happy couple.
The candies are a symbol of both the bitter and the sweet experiences that can accompany any marriage.
The sugared almonds serve another function at Italian weddings as well; the guests often toss them at the newlyweds as they depart in lieu of throwing rice as you see at many American weddings.
At the reception, the custom of “Buste” is commonplace.
This is the custom of the bride carrying a satin bag called “la borsa” into which the guests will put money to help the newlyweds defray the generally high cost of an elaborate Italian wedding.
The bride’s purse is further fattened when male guests pay her for a dance at the wedding reception.
Just as in Jewish weddings, an Italian bride and groom break a glass at the end of the reception.
The number of pieces the glass breaks into indicates how many years this new couple will be together.