Italian Wedding Reception

The heart of any Italian wedding—north or south, east or west, and inland or island—is the reception. It is during a wedding reception Italians act their roots of relishing all meals served, which may amount up to 14 courses, loudly wishing the couple and homely socialising and talking about finer points of life such as which team will win the next weekend's football match, who are courting certain glitterati, and who will get a promotion at work. It's also a hardened custom for guests to pay tribute to the couple and their families by dropping enveloped cash in to a satin bag, especially prepared for this purpose, called la borsa. If the couple's families hold high social status, there could be a big table where non-relative attendees can put gifts not only as an expression of well-wishing but also as a restitution for whatever favours they may have received from any of the families.

Silence is not in the dictionary of an Italian wedding reception. Once in a while somebody will stand up and say loudly 'viva gli sposi', which means 'hurray to the bride and groom', and a rocking chorus of applause and murmurs of agreement will follow, and everyone will drink up from their wine glasses. When the room is about to be filled with silence, another shouts 'evviva gli sposi' or 'per cent'anni', which means 'for a hundred years', and the deafening chorus breaks out again and another collective wine gulping is orchestrated. It's Italian!

While amusing themselves in cheering up for the bride and groom, reception attendees will savour lavish food served. The number of courses can be as many as 14, and at some more prodigiously prepared receptions, it can be more! It is highly unusual for the hosts to tell their guests that the reception is over. The guests will know when it's over when they can't put in any more food to their full bellies. Then, and only then, it's time to go!

There will be a wedding cake and the bride and groom will make the first official cut. Wedding attendants will then cut the cakes into slices to be served to the guests as desserts, along with coffee, espresso and others.

Receptions in the northern Italy will usually have a 'groom's tie cutting' event. In this event, the best man cuts the groom's tie into tiny fragments onto a tray. The tray is then passed around the guests so they can 'buy' the fragments. The fund raised from this sale will go towards paying for the band and any other musical necessity. When this custom is practised, the groom will most likely put on a tie that is not one of the most expensive types.

As is customary, people at a reception will be dancing. But there is also a tradition for the male guests to dance with the bride while she is holding her la borsa. This is an opportunity for the bride to collect additional cash because the guests asking for a dance will slip in some cash to the bag. This hard earned fund will usually be given to the bride's family as a partial reimbursement for the wedding expenses.

Another typical tradition is glass breaking. Just before they leave the reception, the couple breaks a glass, or another breakable item such as ceramic vase, as hard as they can. The amount of the shattered pieces is supposed to foretell the number of years their happy marriage will last.

Most receptions give out Jordan almonds to guests as a token of thank you and reminder that they have just witnessed a union of lifetime bitter and sweet experiences. This is fittingly so because the bitter almonds are covered with sugary candy coating, and each makes an inseparable union.

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