Just back from a wedding down south in a little place called Paternopoli (lovingly referred to by some as 'Paperopoli', which basically translates to Donald Duck Land, the name of the town where Donald Duck lives in the Italian comic books...but I digress).
And, while we're on the topic, this morning I myself have just come back from checking out a place for my wedding, which Alessandro and I are planning for sometime early next year, exact date not chosen as of yet. (Um, €11,000 to rent two rooms with nothing else included...let me think about that for about 2 seconds...no.)
Know anything about Italian weddings? It's all about the food. Apparently, the further south you get from Rome, the more this becomes a fact.
Paternopoli is around 4 hrs. south, in the Campania region. There were about, oh, 20 or so dishes on the reception menu. Not that you get to choose. They all arrive. One after the other. We sat down to dinner at about 4 pm, and by the time we had to leave at 6:15 pm (because we had to catch a train and be back in Rome this morning), we were only on the first first course dish (there were 4, and 6 second course dishes still to come...that was after an hour-long cocktail reception with about 10 different dishes, and 3 rounds of different appetizers at the table). The general consensus at our table was that this tradition of overindulgence must be a hold over from the ancient Roman banquets...but without the couches to recline on, and thankfully without the vomitorium (apparently a misnomer) or, say, dormice (ick!).
My friend Cesare was also at this wedding. He helpfully kept a running tally of votes on the quality of each individual dish. After each round, he would announce: "Ok everyone, what do you give the last dish? 7.5 or 8?" He'd then make a note, clip his pen back to the menu, and the games would continue.
Now, in all of the 10 or so Italian weddings I've been to, rest assured that I've never spotted any of the lovely ladies displayed on the CD cover at the beginning of this post. But there are a few things besides the abundant food that seem to characterize an Italian wedding:
1) Confetti. Not the multi-colored paper you're thinking of, these are white candied almonds and I haven't been to a wedding yet that didn't hand them out to guests.
2) Lack of horrendously dressed or otherwise strategically coordinated bridesmaids. In Italy you have testimoni (witnesses), usually 2-3 for the bride and 2-3 for the groom, to witness the signatures. It doesn't necessarily have to be all women for the bride or men only for the groom, you can mix and match and that way generally choose your closest friends or family members, or someone who has special significance for you. No matched attire, although all my Italian girlfriends would love to see me have an "American-style wedding" with damigelle, as bridesmaids are known as in Italian.
3) No hokey-pokey, YMCA, or other crazy dance floor favorites, although I have witnessed a "train" a couple times at the few weddings where there was a DJ. And the wedding yesterday did actually have an accordion player (that was a first!)
All in all though, the Italian wedding isn't quite as mysterious or that different that your average American wedding. And of course, it has the benefit of all that Italian food! Viva gli sposi!