Italian Wedding Traditions: Ceremony, Gifts, Food and more

October 27, 2023

In the heart of Italy, where history and romance intertwine, weddings are not just ceremonies but timeless celebrations steeped in tradition and cultural richness. Italian weddings are a captivating blend of ancient customs and modern flair, where every ritual and symbol carries profound meaning.

In this exploration of Italian wedding traditions, we’re unveiling what makes these unions not only a celebration of love but a testament to the country's vibrant heritage. You'll find inspiration aplenty, from the romantic serenades under the Tuscan moonlight to the mouthwatering feasts that make your taste buds do the tarantella.

Join us as we delve into the charming world of Italian weddings, where centuries-old traditions meet the excitement of contemporary unions.

Engagement, the Precursor to the Wedding

Steeped in history and romance, Italian engagement traditions have evolved, yet they still carry the echoes of bygone eras. In the past, a prospective groom adhered to the tradition of seeking the approval of his bride-to-be's father before proposing.

Following the granting of consent, the bride's parents would host a reception to announce the impending union, during which the groom-to-be presented his beloved with an engagement ring. In return, the bride would offer the groom a gift of equal significance.

In modern-day Italy, the ritual of gifting an engagement ring remains a cherished and crucial aspect of the engagement process. However, some may not go the traditional route to ask for marriage permission. 

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Wedding Attire and Traditions

Among other things, Italy is a country famous for its haute couture, so you can expect to see everyone in their best attire at weddings.

Bridal Gown - Italian brides typically wear classic and elegant white wedding gowns, symbolizing purity and innocence. These gorgeous gowns, frequently adorned with delicate and exquisite lace and elaborate decorations, highlight the bride's beauty and grace. Silk, lace, and delicate embroidery are the to-go choices of beautiful fabrics for Italian brides, representing their tender yet exquisite and sophisticated taste. 

Bride gown Italian wedding tradition

The Veil - The bridal veil, popularly called "velo" in Italy, has a deep-rooted wedding symbolism. It represents modesty, purity, and defence against evil spirits. It is often worn as a tribute to the Virgin Mary. In southern Italy, there’s a tradition that says the length of the veil should reflect the length of the engagement—one meter for every year. Isn’t that beautiful? 

The Groom makes a dapper impression with a traditional black or navy blue tuxedo or suit. The groom will appear sharp and stylish on his wedding day with the help of a well-chosen tie or bow tie, pocket square, and boutonniere.

Wedding Ceremony Traditions

La Serenata 

The tradition of "La Serenata" adds a touch of enchantment to weddings and is straight out of a movie. This cherished custom involves the groom serenading his bride the night before their wedding day. Underneath the shimmering Italian moonlight, the groom's heartfelt melodies resonate through the air, expressing his love and anticipation for their future together. What could be any more romantic than that?

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Wedding bouquet

As his last gift to his love, the groom must pay for the bride's bouquet in Italy before she becomes his wife. The bride can choose the flowers and colours for the floral arrangement, but the groom is responsible for purchasing it and ensuring it is delivered to the bride on the wedding day. 

The Ring Exchange: A Promise of Eternity In Italian weddings, exchanging wedding rings is one of the most glorified moments of a Catholic wedding, as it is the exchange of vows of utmost significance. Just after the couple exchanges the vows, they exchange the rings, which are blessed as the priest's symbols of fidelity and eternal love.

Traditional Wedding Gifts: Celebrate Love and Unity

Gift-giving is integral to many wedding cultural customs, with Italy being no exception. During the wedding reception, the bride carries a satin bag called la borsa. This is where guests place envelopes of money as gifts to the newlywed couple. There are also traditions which say that you should put money in the bride’s bag if you wish to dance with her. 


In Italian, "confetti" refers to the candied almonds presented to guests as wedding favors. They represent the bittersweetness of marriage. Confetti can be scattered on guests' plates at the dinner table, concealed within a cushion, wrapped in tulle, or packed into little bags.

The Wedding Chest

Often, Italian families gift the newlyweds with la "cassapanca," or a wedding chest. This beautifully crafted chest showcases the couple's new life together, and its real beauty lies in the tradition of passing it down from generation to generation.

Personalized Wedding Favors

Italians are famous for their attentiveness as a nation. And they don’t miss paying attention to details even on their wedding day.  Newlywed couples often choose personalized wedding favors to express their gratitude toward guests who came to testify to the couple’s love on this very special day. These may include customized trinkets or small tokens that reflect the couple's unique love story.

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Wedding reception traditions, a feast for the senses

Italian wedding receptions are known for their exquisite and lavish feasts that tickle every sense. Rich in colors as in flavor, Italian wedding dishes leave everybody wanting more.

Traditional Wedding Foods

From antipasto platters to rich pasta dishes, Italian wedding menus are a gastronomic delight in every sense of the word and a culinary voyage for everyone. Starting from aperitifs, which are frequently offered with a range of snacks at weddings in Italy, including breadsticks, olives, almonds, and crisps. 

Other less common choices include mozzarella sticks, smaller pizza slices, tiny pastries, and miniature cured meats. Pasta, ravioli, and risotto are staples of Italian wedding cuisine. They are typically offered as an entrée at dinner or appetizer during the reception. A traditional Italian wedding menu frequently includes meat dishes, including veal, pork, lamb, and beef. Usually, these foods come with a side dish like pasta, rice, or risotto.

The Wedding Cake

Wedding cakes in Italy typically symbolize the sweet new beginning of the married couple. The wedding cake, or as they call it, la "torta nuziale," is a centerpiece of the reception. 

The traditional wedding cake in Italy is known as "millefoglie" or "mille-feuille." This elegant and classic confection consists of multiple layers of delicate puff pastry, alternated with rich pastry cream or whipped cream and often adorned with powdered sugar or a glaze on the top layer.

Millefoglie translates to "thousand leaves" in Italian, referencing the flaky layers of pastry that create a light and airy texture. Couples may also choose to customize their wedding cake with fresh fruits, berries, or decorative elements that align with the theme of their celebration. 

The millefoglie's timeless simplicity and delightful taste make it a beloved choice for Italian weddings, reflecting the country's culinary finesse and appreciation for quality ingredients.

Superstitions regarding weddings: beliefs and omens

Superstitions have always been a big part of Italian culture, and weddings are no exception. Here are a few…

Rain on Your Wedding Day

Rain on a wedding day is good luck in Italian superstitions. It is believed that rain symbolizes fertility and cleansing. It is also thought that rain is tied to luck and abundant love.

Breaking a Glass

In the Italian wedding tradition, the real action happens towards the end of the reception. The couple smashes a glass or a vase by stomping on it with gusto. The broken pieces are then collected, and the notion is that the number of shards indicates the count of happy married years ahead. It's a lively and symbolic wrap-up to the celebration, blending excitement with a touch of tradition. 

Choosing The Wedding Date

In Italy, selecting the wedding date is far more than a logistical decision; it carries deep superstitions. Couples often consult with priests or fortune tellers to determine the most auspicious day for their union. Specific dates are believed to bring better luck and harmony to the marriage, emphasizing the significance of timing in the Italian wedding tradition. 

The careful consideration of the wedding date reflects the cultural importance placed on ensuring a harmonious and lucky start to the couple's life together.

Italian wedding traditions have always been a mesmerizing journey through cultural, historical, and romantic heritage. After all, they are famous as the nation of love, so wedding traditions are very special in their culture. 

These traditions continue to evolve in the modern era, adapting to new values and global influences. Whether you're planning an Italian-themed wedding or simply in awe of their traditions, Italian weddings offer a glimpse into the heartwarming customs that have stood the test of time and continue to thrive in a changing world. 

As you embark on your journey of love and commitment, may these traditions bring an added layer of magic to your special day, weaving together the past, present, and future in a tapestry of enduring love and cultural richness.

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