Italian Wedding Traditions and Superstitions

italian traditions

To make your nozze (wedding in Italian) in Italy truly authentic, there are a number of wedding traditions and superstitions that add to the charm of your celebrations.

Here are some of them:

Choosing the day

Italian superstitions state that Friday should be avoided as it is the day evil spirits were created. Tuesday, Martedi in Italian, derives from the word "Marte" referring to the God of War. According to Italian superstitions, couples who marry on Tuesday risk a long life of fighting. The best day is Sunday, thought to be the luckiest day to marry and signifies fertility and prosperity.

The Rehearsal Dinner

Before the pasta is passed at the rehearsal dinner, the best man toasts “Per cent'anni," or “A hundred years," to wish the new couple a century of good luck. The "evviva gli sposi!" or "hooray for the newly-weds" is the second toast given. Both of these wedding traditions from Italy are done with Prosecco or Italian champagne in hand.

The Ceremony

italian ceremony

According to Italian traditions, the groom would be the one to pick out the flowers for the bridal bouquet. He would deliver it to his bride on the morning of their wedding, his last gift he gives as boyfriend to girlfriend before she becomes his bride.

Italian traditions suggest weddings be held early so that the couple can rest quietly before the big reception later that day.

Tying a ribbon across the doorway of the church is a public announcement that your wedding is taking place. Superstitions state that grooms should carry a small piece of iron in their pockets to ward off evil spirits, and brides rip their veils for good luck.

In Italy, less emphasis is placed on bridal parties, there is usually only a best man and a maid of honor who serve as witnesses.

The Exit

As you exit your ceremony, expect locals as well as guests to shout “Auguri!" (“Best wishes!") and applaud. Another of the Italian traditions is for the wedding car to be decorated with flowers.

The Reception

italian wedding reception

Receiving lines are important in Italy, so be prepared for a long line of people who want to kiss and hug the bride and groom. The bride and groom would break a vase at the reception, superstitions say the number of broken pieces represents the number of happy years the couple will have together.

Italian wedding receptions feature a lot of plate tapping, traditionally a signal for the groom to kiss the bride. The kisses should be short and sweet and guests should not start tapping until a member of the wedding party leads off the tradition.

The Budget

At an Italian wedding, brides carry a satin bag “la borsa” at the reception for guests to place envelopes of money in, a tradition called the “buste" Sometimes the bride wears it while dancing at the reception and men who want to dance with her can pay for the privilege.

The Dance

"La Tarantella" is the most frenzied way guests wish the newly married couple good luck. Dancers hold hands and race clockwise until the music speeds up, then they reverse directions. The tempo and direction continue to change until finally, they collapse in a dizzy heap.

The Cake

Italian couple’s do not traditionally have a wedding cake. Instead, one of Italy’s wedding meal traditions is that guests are given sugared almonds symbolizing the bitter and sweet to come. If you must have an Italian cake, a mille-foglia, which features layers of pastry and cream, topped with doves to symbolize lasting love is a good choice.