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  • My Italian Wedding Diary
    Page 1
    Learn about Italian wedding traditions from my experiences getting married to an Italian in Italy
    Our Paesani

    by Francesca Di Meglio


    Francesca in Villa Arbusto in Ischia on her wedding day, Oct. 2, 2008.
    Photo by Foto Elite
    Wedding season has pretty much arrived. The invitations have already arrived, and the brides are heading off to their final wedding dress fitting. Just a year ago at this time, I was happily planning my October wedding in Italy and November vow renewal in the United States. I married an Italian, Antonio Gerenini, not once but twice because our families, though both originally from Ischia, Italy, live in different countries.

    In May 2008, I was gathering documents for the Italian Consulate, so I could go through with our plans in July to take “parole”, or participate in the required civil ceremony before our church wedding. That was the beginning of my journey planning an Italian wedding in Italy.

    The really fun part of the planning happened when I returned to the United States in mid-July after a month in Italy. Almost as soon as I arrived, the women of my family tried to surprise me - a friend in Italy spilled the beans a few weeks earlier - with a bridal shower. They certainly showered me with gifts - from a new TV for my kitchen to lingerie and a scrapbook made by all the little girls in my family (there are a lot of them). That was the day, those who were planning to join us for the Italian celebration started to let me know they were thinking about making the trip.

    Soon after the shower, I made the invitations by hand and in both English and Italian. I embossed cornucopias - the symbol of our wedding because we fell in love when Antonio visited me in the United States for the first time over Thanksgiving and we planned the vow renewal for Thanksgiving weekend 2008 - on 150 invitations to be delivered to families in Italy, the United States, France, and Australia. I have relatives everywhere, so the guest list come from all over the world. In fact, 16 people traveled to Italy from the United States, two people traveled to Italy from France, and 10 people to the United States from Italy for the various celebrations.

    By early September, I was back in Italy for the final planning. What I found interesting - if not very practical - about inviting people in Italy is that you do not mail the invitations. The couple goes from house to house delivering the invites in person. It takes forever and a day. Luckily, my job precluded me from doing this chore, and the groom took care of this task about two weeks before the wedding.

    In the States, such short notice would have been a faux pas. Having a full-time job as a writer means I work American hours Monday through Friday even when I'm in Italy. Normally, that cramps my relationship with Antonio. But this time it came in handy for me. He had no choice but to deliver the invites in Italy. On the weekends, however, I did manage to drop off invites for my relatives in Ischia.

    Visiting my relatives for this chore was a delight because I asked some of them to participate in the Italian ceremony. My cousins who play in a folk band at their church in Ischia would perform for our ceremony. I spent hours at their house listening to the different songs. They played them live for me with their guitar and tambourine and lovely voices. It was probably the most fun I had planning the wedding in Italy. I asked my cousin Angela and Antonio's Godson Gianfranco to read the First and Second Readings during our Mass.

    Italians do not have bridal parties in the way Americans do. Generally, little girls might serve as “damegelle”, bridesmaids. Antonio's three nieces, who range in age from eight to eleven, were our “dame”. There is no rehearsal or anything to show them what to do. Their only real task is carry the bride's train while she walks through town to the church and walk into the church ahead of her. We picked out dresses for them - and tiaras and gloves, which they requested - in the United States and brought them to Ischia. They looked like little Italian princesses.

    Continued on page 2

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