ITALIAN STYLE: Traditional confetti used at Italian weddings.

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Italian & Greek

...flavours to enliven your wedding

By Mala Webber

Do you want your wedding to be different to any wedding your friends and relatives have thrown? Do you want your guests to talk about your wedding for weeks and months after it ends? The easiest way to give your wedding a unique spin is to borrow customs from another culture. You can easily blend Italian or Greek wedding customs into your modern wedding so it is more enjoyable and memorable for all of your guests.

Adding wedding traditions from a different culture is the easiest way to ensure your wedding is not a mirror reflection of any other western wedding being thrown today. You don't have to be Italian or Greek to add their fun flavours to your wedding. You just need to have an adventurous spirit and a desire to plan a truly original wedding that all of your guests will remember.

Greek wedding traditions

A spoonful of sugar

A Greek custom suggests brides place a lump of sugar in the finger of the gloves they wear on their wedding day. This is believed to make the brides sweet as sugar in their wifely duties.

Charm the guests

Ancient Greek wedding customs required guests to wear charms to wish good luck on the bride and groom or to ward off evil spirits that may attack their marriage. The evil eye symbol was once a popular charm for wedding attire, but other charms can be worn to transfer wishes for luck, happiness and fertility to the lucky couple.

The groom can also carry something made of iron in his pocket on the big day to ward away evil spirits. Brides may ward off evil spirits by wearing a brightly-coloured veil, preferably in red or yellow.

Blessed by the best man

The best man plays an important role in the traditional Greek wedding. Not only is he responsible for escorting the couple to the ceremony, but he is responsible for blessing the bride and groom with wreaths or gold crowns at the start of the ceremony. The bride's father gives her away to the groom, but the best man is someone who stands up and supports them both throughout the ceremony.

Smash it up

Find plates at a thrift store or yard sale and allow the reception guests to break them on the floor. This is done to wish the bride and groom good luck as they transition into marital life. You may just want to give the plates out before the guests move into the party time suggested below. You don't want anyone getting hit by a plate.

Party time

Greeks are known to cut loose and party down all night long in celebration of a new marital union. If you want to do it up true Greek style, plan an elaborate party that stretches into the morning, and make sure to provide plenty of drinks to liven up the crowd. Music for dancing and good food is essential elements of a Greek wedding as well.

Greek weddings are lively with a lot of action, bright colours, and colourful personalities. You do not have to be Greek in order to incorporate some of these fun elements into your western wedding.

Italian wedding traditions

Five wedding essentials

Italian brides traditionally collect something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue, just like many western weddings. The difference is Italian brides also collect a gift from someone they love. This gift is carried with them on their wedding day just like everything else on the list, and it is intended to serve as a reminder of all the people who love the bride.

The confetti blessing

Confetti in terms of an Italian wedding refers to candied almonds. The almonds must be candied in white coating and wrapped in tulle or lace in groups of five. Each almond symbolises blessings that will hopefully be passed to the bride and groom: fertility, happiness, health, longevity, and wealth.

If you want to do this in true Italian tradition, have the groom carry a tray with the confetti while the bride hands the lace-wrapped almonds to guests. Make sure an odd number of confetti packages are distributed, since even numbers are bad luck.

Wedding day colours

Brides, spend the night before your wedding dressed in green so you will have good fertility luck. Ditch gold on the wedding day, since Italians believe that it is bad luck for the bride to wear anything gold coloured except her wedding ring. Guests should be discouraged from wearing white, as Italians reserve that colour for the bride. Black is quite fashionable for Italian wedding guests today.

Veil protection

It was once believed that the veil protected the bride from evil spirits, and the veil remains an Italian wedding essential today. Another traditional reason to wear a veil was to hide the bride's face from the groom until he has taken her hand in marriage and she has officially become his spouse. That is mimicked even by western weddings today.

The chapel walk

In some Italian communities, the bride and groom walk to the wedding ceremony hand-in-hand. They encounter a variety of planned obstacles along the way to simulate the obstacles that may come later in their marriage. For instance, a couple may encounter a crying child that needs to be soothed, a dirty pavement that needs to be swept off, or something awkward that requires teamwork to walk over successfully. To keep the western tradition of not seeing each other until the ceremony you could do this tradition as you enter your reception instead.

There are a lot of subcultures sharing Italian heritage, so there are many other ways you can add some Italian flavour to your western wedding.

Mala Webber is the founder of www.IsleDo.com a wedding planning resource for couples planning a Caribbean wedding.

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