Long ago, traditional Italian weddings and marriages were arranged by the families of the bride and groom. Often, the brother or another male relative of the groom went to the father or uncle of the young woman to ask for her hand in marriage.
In some cases, a matchmaker sent a message masciata to the prospective bride’s family of the man’s intent to marry. Once the two families were in accord, the couple’s official engagement was announced.
If the groom proposes directly to the bride, he usually serenades her first, and either plays an instrument or shows up with his musically-talented friends.
Diamond engagement rings were given by medieval Italians in the belief that the diamond was created by the flames of love. Precious stones were used by medieval Italians as part of the groom’s payment. The payment, like engagement rings today, symbolized the groom’s intent to marry.
In preparation for the wedding, the bride assembled a bundle (dote), consisting of household items, linens, her clothing, and sometimes even her future husband’s clothes, to bring to the home of the groom. Her family provided her with a dowry consisting of monetary, and possibly domestic goods.
Wearing of green by the her the night before the wedding brings luck and abundance to the couple.
Particularly in Southern Italy, it is uncommon for either the groom or the bride to have a “bachelor” or “bachelorette” party before the wedding.
The Traditional Italian Wedding
On the day of the wedding, the bride is not supposed to wear any gold, until after her wedding ring is slipped out. Wearing gold during or before the wedding is thought to bring bad luck.
Old Church traditions forbade marriage during Lent and Advent. Marriage was also avoided in the months of May and August. May was to be reserved for the veneration of the Virgin Mary, and August was thought to invite bad luck and sickness.
Sunday marriages (with the exception of the months mentioned above) are believed to be luckiest.
In the Veneto region of Italy, the groom walks to the bride’s house and, together, he walks with her and the whole wedding party to church. On the way, town residents would watch the group walk by and present the bride with many challenges.
For example, they put a broom on the ground and if she notices it and picks it up to put it away she was considered a good housekeeper. Then, she might come across a crying child, the couple is supposed to quiet him and make him smile; this would mean that they will be good parents. Coming across a beggar, means giving generously and is equaled to having a good heart.
The bride arrives at the wedding mass last. In the meantime, the groom waits in front of the church as his best men tease him about his future wife, “Did you tell her that you are getting married today?” and “I don’t think she’ll come”! Her lateness, depending on the number of minutes, would have a different meaning to the groom.
In Northern Italy, the groom brings the bouquet of flowers to the wedding. In fact the colour and style of the bouquet is supposed to be a surprise to the bride. This signifies a present from the groom