Italians have tons of traditions, superstitions, and rituals. So when it comes to Italian weddings, there are many ways to incorporate peculiar but meaningful traditions.
Italian wedding traditions and rituals often involve money and engaging their guests in blissful activities.
If you have Italian blood or want to incorporate Italian wedding traditions and rituals into your wedding, check out these twelve fun practices!
12 Italian Wedding Traditions and Rituals
1. Lucky Iron
Like so many other cultures, Italians want to have as much luck as possible on their wedding day. For the groom, this often means carrying a small piece of iron around with them, especially during the ceremony.
Traditionally, the iron should be rusty, but modern grooms sometimes use normal iron. There are several reasons why Italians believe iron is lucky. But the top reason is that iron can ward off evil spirits, especially evil Faye and witches.
Iron can cast away jealous people and protect the groom from misfortune on the wedding day. Many Italians will have their wedding rings forged in iron to bring extra luck to their marriage.
Instead of saying “knock on wood,” Italians say “tocca ferro,” which means “touch iron” or knock on iron, as they see it as a lucky material.
2. Lucky Rip
Another way to bring luck and good fortune to your wedding day is with a ripped veil. For good luck, brides will rip a small piece of their veil off just before the wedding ceremony. They can rip a tiny piece off or tear a corner of the veil.
The white veil symbolizes purity and innocence, which is left behind as the bride agrees to the marriage. Ripping the veil just before the ceremony is the first step in the bride losing her innocence and, in some ways, becoming a woman.
Of course, this reasoning is very antiquated, but Italian brides still make a tear for good luck!
Some brides also give the small piece of the veil to someone important, like their mother or father. But the bride can also keep it as a sentimental object, but she should not get married with the piece of the veil in her possession.
3. Tailored Veil
Most brides wear a stunning veil on their wedding day. But Italian veils are extra important. The veil should be approximately one meter long for every year the couple’s engagement lasted.
So the longer the engagement, the longer the veil will be, symbolizing the couple’s long or short journey to this exceptional moment. This tradition comes from Southern Italy and is popular at Sicilian weddings.
This tradition is one of the reasons that Italian wedding dresses and veils tend to be dramatic and robust.
A lot of the attire has to do with meaningful traditions, symbolizing the couple’s commitment and love for one another. Plus, the longer the veil, the less uneasy the bride will feel about ripping off a tiny piece!
4. No Gold
Aside from your wedding or engagement ring, the groom and the bride should remove all gold jewelry before the wedding ceremony. Wearing gold jewelry to your wedding can bring bad luck, unlike iron which brings good luck and protection.
While some wedding guests and the groom will also avoid gold to prevent misfortune, this rule mostly applies to Italian brides. Gold can make the couple lose prosperity and passion, resulting in an unhappy and short-lived marriage.
It’s unclear how this tradition came about, but it’s one of the most respected and followed traditions in modern Italian weddings. It seems no one wants to tempt fate by testing this superstition.
5. Cutting the Tie
You’ve heard of tying the knot, but what about cutting the tie? This ritual is popular in modern weddings and fun for everyone.
At some point during the reception, usually more than halfway through, the Best Man takes the groom’s tie and snips it into as many little pieces as possible.
The little snippets go on a serving tray where guests can buy one as a keepsake. Italian weddings are extravagant and expensive, and the guests know this.
So there are many opportunities at Italian weddings for the guests to give money back to the bride and groom to help them pay for the wedding and begin their new life together. There is no set price for the tie pieces, as guests can donate as much as they want in return for a piece of the tie.
Some guests may leave $5, while more affluent and generous guests, often parents of the bride and groom, may pay $1,000 for one piece. Not only is this fun and raises money for the newlyweds, but it allows your guests to take home a part of your big day.
6. Cutting the Garter
If the groom gave up his tie, the bride should give something up! Italian brides have their garter cut up at the wedding reception, which is also given to guests. In most cases, guests do not pay for pieces of the garter, as they’re given out as wedding favors.
This tradition happens at most modern weddings, but instead of snipping the garter into pieces, the groom removes it and throws the garter into the crowd for one guest to keep. The garter should bring good luck to whichever guest ends up with it.
If you’re an Italian bride, make sure you wear your garter! If you don’t have a garter, you’ll have to give up your right shoe to a guest in place of the garter.
7. The Satin Money Bag
Guests expect a lot from the bride and groom at the wedding. They must walk around to each table during the reception, thanking guests for coming and chit-chatting with everyone who attended.
However, guests will often give cash and checks to the bride and groom as they come around. The bride carries a small satin bag to collect the money.
The bag is “la Borsa,” which translates to “the bag.” People can slip cash and checks into the tiny bag as the couple passes by, and the funds should either go to the wedding or toward the bride and groom’s future. As you can see, Italians love to give new couples money!
8. Sunday Weddings
While some cultures view Sunday weddings as an insult to the lord, Italians disagree. In Italian culture, Sunday is the best day to get married because the lord will watch over you and bless the marriage. Sunday weddings ensure a marriage with fertility, prosperity, and love.
The worst days to get married in Italian culture are Tuesday and Friday. Friday is considered an unlucky day in Italy, so marriages that begin on a Friday are doomed.
Tuesdays are also bad luck, as couples married on this day will constantly fight and bicker throughout their marriage. Any other days are okay, but not as lucky as Sunday!
9. Break Glass
Another fun Italian wedding tradition is breaking a vase! People perform this ritual at the end of the ceremony, the beginning of the reception, or the end of the reception.
Usually, the wife and groom hold the vase together and smash it on the ground or against a wall. The number of fragments represents how many years the couple will be together and happy.
Sometimes, the Best Man or Maid of Honor breaks the vase as a way to wish for a successful marriage to the new couple. This tradition does not have to be done with a vase, as it can be a wine glass, bowl, or any other type of glassware.
10. The Tarantula Dance
The tarantula dance, or “La Tarantella,” is a traditional dance at Italian weddings. Don’t worry; it has nothing to do with spiders. For this dance, all the guests hold hands in a circle and move clockwise.
The music will speed up, so they move faster, and when the music slows, they switch directions. The dance is a little funky, but all the guests participate, so it can be a meaningful and memorable part of the reception.
11. Practical Jokes
The wedding party plays practical jokes on the bride and groom or sets up practical jokes for them to discover later. They sneak into the couple’s wedding car or honeymoon suite to set up pranks.
This tradition is all in good fun and only meant to surprise the newlyweds at different points of the day. The jokes can also take place before the wedding or during the reception.
As you can tell from these traditions, the bride and groom take opportunities to show their guests their gratitude and engage them in the wedding festivities.
To thank their friends and family for their support and love on this momentous day, the bride and groom prepare small gifts and wedding favors to give their guests before they depart from the reception.
Traditionally, the Bomboniere is a small bag with an odd number of sugared almonds, but it can be anything the bride and groom wish to gift their guests. The gifts are almost always something sweet, like candy or chocolate.