Myth: The proposal is an elaborate affair
Unlike cultures affected more by Hollywood, such as the United States and Australia, the marriage proposal in Italy isn’t often as elaborate.
An expression of love and desire for lifelong commitment between Italian couples might be a daily exchange, rather than a dramatised, down-on-one-knee affair.
Myth: Italian Wedding Soup is a wedding dish
Despite its name, Italians do not serve Italian wedding soup, or any soup at weddings. In fact, they might turn up their noses at those who do for serving something so simple and removed from the festivity of a marriage.
Italian wedding soup is assumed to be a mistranslation of minestra maritata, a Neapolitan minestrone, served traditionally at Christmas or Easter.
The name “maritata”, meaning “married”, alludes to the pairing of meat and green vegetables, the main ingredients of this celebratory soup.
The dish has been adopted by Italo-Americans and has become popular in the United States, where it is a staple in many Italian restaurants.
Myth: The getaway car is decorated with toilet paper
The car which carries a bride and groom away to their honeymoon is not decorated with toilet paper or cans such as might happen in Australia.
Rather, guests decorate their own cars with flowers to represent a classy send off to the sweet life and happy ever after.
Fact: Guests help pay for the wedding
In some areas of Italy brides still follow the tradition of buste, which may involve wearing a bag or setting aside a box into which guests can make monetary contributions toward the wedding expenses.
Myth: Cake is an integral part of the Italian wedding
Unlike Australian weddings, cake is often not on the list of requirements for a wedding reception in many regions of Italy.
Instead, one of the more popular gifts for guests are confetti: sugar-coated almonds, representing the bittersweet nature of wedded life.
Where a cake is part of the menu, a popular variety is millefoglie, made of cream between layers of puff pastry and topped with fruit.
Myth: The Tarantella is essential to Italian weddings
The Tarantella is a dance occasionally performed by guests at a wedding - usually in the South - to wish the new couple good luck.
Thought to originate from the Middle Ages, this frenzied dance is alleged to have cured the trance caused by the bite of a tarantula.
Despite popular belief, this dance is not a feature of all Italian weddings.
Fact: Superstitions are still common
Making sure the special day runs smoothly is a top priority for couples worldwide and Italy is no exception.
In the past, there were many small actions a bride and groom could perform to ensure the success of their union.
To rid the ceremony of evil spirits, the groom would equip himself with a tiny piece of iron which he’d carry in his pocket.
Brides used to ensure good luck by ripping their veil.
While the tradition of the bride and groom breaking a vase or a glass, with the pieces representing the number of happy years of married life that lay ahead of them, was felt very strongly, this practice seems to have fallen out of favour in modern weddings.
The actual day of the week the wedding happened to fall on used to be of particular concern in Italy.
This is still the case, in some families. Tuesday and Friday have been considered unlucky in the past, both for weddings and the commencement of any journey.
There is a saying in Italian that goes: "Né di Venere né di Marte, non si sposa e non si parte, né si dà principio all'arte."
In other words, don’t get married, travel or start anything on Fridays or Tuesdays.
Sunday, on the other hand, was considered the luckiest day for a wedding.
Saturday used to be a good day, only for the remarriage of a widow but now, for many modern Italians, it is the first preference for their special day.
Another superstition, which is still quite “alive”, is that the groom must not see the bride’s dress before the wedding service.
If he does, bad tidings loom!
Similarly, if a wedding ring happens to fall on the floor during the ceremony, it is a very bad omen.
The only way to deflect bad luck in this instance is if the officiant or priest picks up the ring (and preferably blesses it).
Pearls may be elegant and delicate but for those who are superstitious, they are best avoided; pearls are said to represent tears.
Superstitions regarding marriage are legion, but the one which transcends time and frontiers refers to rain.
Apparently, in many cultures it is good luck for the bride if it rains.
In communities based on agriculture rain is fundamental for irrigation of crops and the growth of vegetation.
Rain therefore symbolises fertility and abundance.
Brides can therefore console themselves if the weather is inclement.
In Italy, they’re in luck: in fact,“sposa bagnata, sposa fortunata!”