Sunday, August 26, 2007

My big fat Italian wedding

Not MY big fat wedding, but the first Italian wedding that I attended...

It was yesterday, and it began at 10AM. It ended at 9PM. Yes, 11 hours of wedding bliss. Paolo's cousin Lulu warned me that it was going to be that long, but I thought she was joking. The wedding was beautiful, the bride was beautiful and she and the groom were so happy. (Incidentally, in Italy they do not have words for "Bride" and Groom"--they use "Sposa and Sposo--or plural, Sposi") therefor they do not know what the significance of "Here comes the bride" is, which might be why they played it at the end of the wedding...

Before the wedding, everyone gathered outside the bride's house, and the groom is already at the church. (It was in a really little town) The bride walks out of her house, everyone cheers, and then follows her to the church. The townspeople were gathered on the street to see the bride. The people invited to the wedding enter the church before the bride and from there it is pretty similar to wedding ceremonies in the US.

Anyway, the wedding was Catholic, and what I would consider standard for a Catholic wedding. Actually, maybe shorter than Catholic weddings in the US, because only the bride, groom, wedding party and parents received communion instead of all of the people at the church. After the wedding, everyone waits outside for them and throws rice, and in this case, the bride, groom and wedding party (two men and two women) ride away from the church on white Vespas with balloons on them--very cute.

The wedding started at about 10:45 (Italian time is pretty relaxed...) and ended close to noon. We went straight to the reception place, and arrived there about 12:30...and sat there, in the sun, with no food until the bride and groom showed up at 2:30. The good thing was that Paolo got to see a lot of his high school friends that he had not seen for a while, so it wasn't just him and I waiting by ourselves. The couple that got married were in his class in high school-- and when I say "class" I mean it literally, like classroom. In Italy, in high school, you stay in one classroom with the same people all day, for all 5 years, and the teachers move from room to room, so needless to say, you become pretty close the the people in your class.

We were starving by that time because we had only had tea and some cookies for breakfast. But need not fear, this is an Italian wedding, and there is never a shortage of food, in fact, the food is the reason I decided to write this blog.

We began with antipasti, or what we consider appetizers. This was not a buffet, it was all served to the tables. The first round of antipasti consisted of: little fried crab puff things, another fried ball of meat and olives, two types of ham, sausages in little croissants, some type of potato quiche thing, and cheese plates. Then we took a break. The next round of antipasti was all seafood. Calamari salad (raw), octopus (raw), octopus in tomato sauce, baby fried squid, and clams with some type of cheese and breadcrumbs. Then we took a break. (And by this time I was full) then came the "first plate" which is generally pasta. The pasta was a pasta that is specific to this region (kind of in the shape of ears) with some type of meat, and tomato sauce. Then we took a break. Then came the salad, and the first of TWO "second plates". This was the seafood second plate and had some kind of whitefish in a sauce and giant prawns. Then we took a break. We were then served lemon sorbet to clean our pallets to prepare for the second, second plate, which was beef and french fries. After the beef and french fries we took another break, and returned to find that the fruit had been served--pineapple, grapes and melon.

In between each course, we would usually go outside because the reception place was pretty hot (it is August in the south of Italy, after all). So you add the heat to the amount of food, and people were basically ready to sleep on the tables. In between each course, there would also be some wedding-y type of thing, like thank yous to all of the people who helped, a poem, pictures with the bride and groom, etc. After the fruit, came the bouquet and garter toss. I of course, had to go and stand in the group for the bouquet toss, and you can bet I was in the very back making zero effort to fight for that thing...a tall girl in the front caught it. The guys were funny about the garter--the first time she (the bride) went to throw it they all ducked. The second time, they all jumped to the sides away from it...but, it still happened to touch one guy. Can you guess who that was? Yeah, Paolo. Of course.

There was a little dancing (some traditional dancing called "pizzica" and then a few slow songs) Then it was time for the cake--which was HUGE. So they cut the cake, we had one more thing to eat that night (you HAVE to eat at least a bite of cake at a wedding, or its bad luck, right?) And it was time to give gifts to the couple and say goodbye. 11 hours later. We literally ate for 6 hours straight.

Paolo's friends were all so sweet to me, even though most of them do not speak any English. His really close friend, Daniela, can speak English perfectly, so it was great to have her around. My brain hurt by the time we were getting ready to leave from taking in some much Italian--language and culture. And I was exhausted. Everyone was. It was a very long day...but no one left hungry, and the newlyweds were very, very happy...which is the most important part.

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