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My Italian Wedding Diary
Continued from page 1
Learn about Italian wedding traditions from my experiences getting married to an Italian in Italy
The bride and groom's rings always match there. We had them engrave the other's name and the year in each of our rings. My brother John and sister Rosaria also stood with us on the altar in Italy. They too signed church documents as witnesses, but had few other responsibilities. It seems to me that having four testimoni or witnesses is simply a way to allow both the bride and groom choose people who are important to them. Usually, if you choose only two people, you pick a dating or, more likely, married couple.
During the reception, the bride and groom have to honor the testimony with special gifts. We gave a lot of thought about what we wanted to get as gifts. We gave my sister an espresso set with animals on it (she's a zookeeper), my brother an antipasto dish (he's in the restaurant business), and Antonio's sister and brother-in-law a clock from Disney World that featured Cinderella and Prince Charming in gold and plays various Disney songs and has a pendulum. Being the more important of the pairs, they were supposed to get the more important gift.
In the days before the wedding, I spent time doing last-minute chores - from wrapping bombonieri (favors), which were crystal candle holders in the shape of an apple for the Big Apple or New York, which is near where I live in the United States, packing Jordan almonds, a must at any Italian wedding, into paper cones that sat at everyone's seat at the reception, and gathered goodies for bags that would sit in the rooms of my guests from the United States.
Once the Americans started arriving, we lived it up by heading to the beach, visiting the Castello Aragonese, which is the focal point of the island, and eating as much and as often as we could. On the night before the wedding, my sister and I packed up our stuff and headed to my Zia Concettina and Zio Raffaele's house in Testaccio rather than staying with the groom and his family as we had earlier in the trip. Zia Concettina and Zio Raffaele actually live a few doors down from us in New Jersey, but they have a home in Ischia, and usually spend some time there every year. They joined us for the wedding and offered their house to be like the bride's house.
On Thursday, October 2, 2008, I woke up in Testaccio for my wedding day. (Yes, people are expected to take off from work for weddings that regularly take place during the week.) Actually, my sister and I had not slept very well the night before. We kept worrying that we would sleep late because there was no clock in the room, so we woke up every hour to check the clock just outside our door. In any event, we were really excited when awoke for the final time that day.
My aunt and uncle had put out a great spread - with pastries galore and beverages and Jordan almonds - on the dining room table. A beautician came to do my hair, which is the way it's done in Italy. If I had to do it over, I would not have hired her. She charged 200 euro to do my hair and was not very honest about the cost beforehand. It was the one time that someone played gotcha with the American bride.
John, my sister-in-law Jaci, and my parents joined us while I was getting my hair done. Afterward, the women gathered in my aunt and uncle's bedroom to get me into my dress, which I brought from the United States. I had to get two dresses - one for each celebration - so affordability was a top priority. I bought both dresses off the rack and spent about $500 on each. The one for Italy had a cathedral length train, intricate pearl beading, and I wore it with a bolero jacket because your shoulders must be covered to enter an Italian Catholic church.
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