Italian Wedding Customs & Etiquette

Most Italian weddings take place in Catholic churches where some wedding traditions have been practiced since the Middle Ages. The Italian bride and groom will have perform parts of their ceremony and reception based on these traditions. Because payment for the wedding is dispersed among members of both the bride's and groom's families, couples must follow different wedding etiquette that takes this fact into account.


The bride and groom welcome wedding guest. Traditionally, the bride and groom give wedding favors of three to five sugared almonds tied into a bag made of tulle — a gift that represents good luck for the couple. Customarily, the bride's family pays for the invitations, floral decorations and the bridesmaids' clothing. The groom's family pays for everything else, including the bride's bouquet, the honeymoon, the rings, payment for the church as well as the musicians.


The night before the wedding, the bride wears green to bed, which symbolizes fertility. On her wedding day, she wears a white dress, symbolizing purity. Italian Catholic church weddings require a modest neckline with the back covered. The bride traditionally wears a veil over her face; she sometimes tears the veil for good luck. The groom wears a dark suit or possibly a dark blue jacket matched with gray suit pants.


Dancing is a popular tradition during Italian wedding receptions, with the music generally traditional as well as the dances. Guests participate in a group dance called the tarantella, wherein men hold their coats open to reveal that they are unarmed. Guests and the wedding party feast on a delectable spread that includes pastas, salads, soups and, of course, wedding cake with wine and coffee to drink.

Other Traditions

At the door of the church, a family member ties a bow symbolizing the bride and groom "tying the knot." Throughout the wedding day, the bride carries a satin purse into which guests can drop gifts of money for the couple. Unlike the tin cans Americans traditionally tie to the bumpers of the couple's car, the wedding party decorates the getaway car with flowers and ribbon.