For good luck
Italian tradition calls for the bride to have five things with her on her wedding day – one more than Anglo-Saxon tradition.
- Something old: this symbolizes the life she is leaving behind and the importance of the past, which must not be forgotten in her transition to her new life.
- Something new: this symbolizes the new life that is about to begin, representing new goals and the changes she will bring with her.
- Something borrowed: this represents the love of the people dear to her, who will be by her side as she moves from her old life to her new one.
- Something blue: in ancient times, blue was the color of purity, and it was also the color of wedding gowns.
- Something she has received as a gift: this is to remind her of the people she loves.
The wedding ring
The customs of wearing a ring on the left ring finger goes back to the ancient Egyptians. This ancient population believed there was a vein that went from the left ring finger straight to the heart: they were convinced that this was the vein through which sentiments flowed.
“Binding” the ring finger thus guaranteed fidelity.
To crown and seal the union between the bride and groom, the ancient Romans exchanged iron rings. In ancient Hebrew law, rings were even more important: it was thought that the wedding was valid only if rings were exchanged.
In the Middle Ages, when the exchange of rings had not yet become a fully entrenched habit, the “ring” was exquisitely crafted and extremely value, and the groom often gave the bride three rings.
In some regions of Italy, the wedding band is also referred to as “vera”, a Veneto-Slavic term that means “fidelity”. It is customary to engrave the date of the wedding inside the ring, adding the bride’s name inside the groom’s ring and his name inside her ring.
As tradition would have it, the groom pays for the rings and keeps them until they are exchanged, but often the best man and maid of honor are the ones to give the couple the rings. Ring-bearers then bring them to the altar to be blessed.
The most common types are the plain wedding band, which can be rounded or flat. Those who prefer something less traditional can choose one with several rings, or can opt for a ring with a small diamond or even a whole row of diamonds.
The wedding Gown
The tradition of a white wedding gown dates to the nineteenth century, and it represents virginity and purity.
In ancient Rome, brides instead wore yellow and orange veils.
Chinese women dressed in red, which is still the color worn by Indian brides today.
Longobard brides would wear a black tunic, while well-to-do Byzantine brides wore red silk gowns embroidered with gold and gemstones.
In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, wedding gowns were very colorful and could thus also be worn later for special celebrations. The most common color was red, because it was thought to ensure fertility.
Today, white and beige are the most popular colors.
The wedding Veil
During Roman times, weddings were often contracted between families for political or financial reasons, and the betrothed couple never laid eyes on each other until their wedding day.
Consequently, the bride would cover her face until the end of the ceremony to prevent the groom from seeing her – and perhaps stopping the rites!
In several regions of Italy, it is traditional to hand down the wedding veil from generation to generation.
Confetti (candied almonds)
By tradition, in ancient times these delicacies were bundled in precious little bags of tulle (lace is used today) for the wedding day. They had to be white and always came in odd numbers (generally five) to represent the qualities that must always be part of the life of the new couple:
Tradition calls for the couple to walk amidst the tables after the cake has been cut. The groom holds a silver tray with the confetti and the bride uses a silver spoon to offer them to guests – always distributing an odd number.
According to tradition, throughout the entire first year of marriage the groom was not supposed to pay for any clothing for his wife. As a result, the bride’s family would provide her with clothing, linens and accessories.
According to tradition, classic favors are made of crystal, silver or Limoges porcelain. More importantly, everyone must receive the same weddinig favor: there are no friends or relatives who are considered more important than others.
During pagan times, rice would be thrown at the couple to symbolize a shower of fertility.
According to tradition, the bouquet is the last gift a man would give to his promised bride, thus ending the betrothal stage. The groom customarily sends it to the bride’s house on the morning of the wedding, although often it is the bride who chooses it, as it must match her gown. In some countries, the bouquet is a gift from the future mother-in-law. At the end of the reception, the bride tosses the bouquet to a group of all the unmarried girls on hand: the one who gets the bouquet will marry within a year’s time.
The custom of bedecking the bride with flowers is a very ancient one, and it comes from the Arab world. Here, on her wedding day the bride would be decorated with delicate white flowers – orange blossoms – to symbolize fertility. This custom came about to represent the hope that the woman would bear many children.
For the ancient Egyptians, the bride would be decorated with fragrant flowers and aromatic herbs to keep evil spirits away.
The ancient Egyptians believed that on the wedding day, evil spirits would gather where the marriage was being celebrated in order to ruin the happy atmosphere. Therefore, the bride’s girlfriends would dress in opulent gowns and follow the bride in order to confuse the evil spirits: unable to recognize the bride, these spirits could not wish any misfortune on her.
In ancient Rome, the bridal couple would eat honey for the duration of “one moon” after the wedding (perhaps to recoup from the long wedding day!). This has led to the custom of using the term “honeymoon” to refer to the beginning of the newlyweds’ life together.
The tradition of carrying the bride across the threshold also comes from ancient Rome. It was done to prevent the bride from tripping, which was a sign of misfortune as it meant that the gods did not want to welcome her.
By tradition, the bride and groom must not speak to each other before the wedding ceremony.
Orange blossoms symbolize purity and virginity.
The groom is supposed to give his fiancée a small bouquet tied with a white ribbon.
Centuries ago, a man would kidnap the woman he wanted and get away on horseback, gripping her with his left arm and using his right arm to lead his steed from the village. To defend his beloved, he would also use his right arm to hold weapons.
In some countries, the night before the wedding the groom organizes a serenade under the bride’s window. He is accompanied by friends and relatives – and naturally a musician with a violin, guitar or accordion. At the end of the serenade, the bride’s parents offer the entourage a rich buffet to thank them.