Italian Wedding Sayings

Got an invite to an Italian wedding? Or do you just love learning about Italian language, culture and traditions?

Whatever the reason, it’s a great idea to learn about Italian wedding customs, and the Italian wedding sayings and vocabulary you’ll learn here can be useful for other situations, as well.

In this post, I’ll help prepare you for anything you might need to know if you’re destined for such a wedding—whether it’s in the near future, or even if you’re just dreaming of going to one someday.


Important Italian Wedding Sayings and Vocabulary

The following traditions or wedding phrases are certainly not observed at all Italian weddings, but you’ll definitely come across at least some of them if you’re at a wedding in the boot.

Before the Wedding

Before the wedding, some friends of the bride and groom may set up elaborate scherzi  (practical jokes) to play on the couple in order to punish them for the obnoxiousness of falling in love. And they might also help set up una serenata  (serenade) under the window of the bride or groom, aiding the other to express their devotion from the street, Romeo-style.

Here are other pre-wedding words and phrases to know:

During the Wedding

As mentioned before, there are different types of weddings in Italy, and you’ll want to be prepared for the type you’re attending.

If you’re going to a religious (most likely Catholic) wedding, it’s called una cerimonia cattolica  (a Catholic ceremony). These weddings are presided over by a priest (called il prete or il sacerdote ) and can be much longer than other kinds of weddings, lasting up to an hour, as this is an opportunity for the Church to share its ideas with a public that may not be very church-going. Many Italians who consider themselves Catholic nevertheless only report to a church for a major event like a wedding.

An option for the less religiously-inclined is una cerimonia civile (a civil ceremony). These are usually simple and short, and can be over in as few as 15 minutes. A civil ceremony is conducted by il sindaco (mayor) or else l’assessore or il consigliere  (city council members or bureaucrats).

Homosexual couples can only have unioni civili (civil unions) in Italy; these afford the same rights as those given to married couples (except notably the right to adopt), but also get celebrated as weddings.

Regardless of the type of wedding ceremony, these are some more people you can usually find there:

During the wedding or at the reception, you’re likely to hear a variety of wedding blessings. For example:

A few more phrases you may hear:

  • “Sposa bagnata, sposa fortunata.” — This saying is broken out if the wedding is rained on, in order to temper the let-down; it translates to something like “A drenched bride is a lucky bride.”
  • “La sposa è bellissima.” — “The bride is beautiful.”
    As in English-language weddings, there is often a sexist expectation to focus very much on the bride’s visual impact, whereas at most one might say about the groom:

After the Wedding

When leaving the church, traditionally the guests are given handfuls of rice to throw at the new couple; this is called the lancio del riso (throwing of rice) and is supposed to give them good luck. However, nowadays, it’s far more common to see confetti thrown instead of rice, as some consider the lancio del riso to be a waste of food.

The ricevimento (reception) is the party after la cerimonia (the ceremony). It may consist of un pranzo (a lunch) or una cena (a supper), generally with a menu chosen in advance by the bride and groom. Common wedding foods include pesce (fish), risotto  and—of course— la torta (the cake). There will be vino  (wine) to drink with the dinner, and caffè  (espresso) at the end of the meal.

During the dinner, guests may spontaneously chant “Bacio, bacio, bacio!” (“Kiss, kiss, kiss!”) with a long, singsong, exaggerated emphasis on the first syllable. In theory, back in the day, the wedding would have been the first time that the couple kissed, so once they finally were allowed to do so, the voyeuristic guests would encourage them to take full advantage. The bacio can be considered a bit crass nowadays in some circles; certainly don’t try to start this chant yourself.

A more civilized way to celebrate the newlyweds is with a toast.

Here are two toasts that are common at Italian weddings:

After the dinner, it’s common for the newly-married couple to have il primo ballo (the first dance), which may be choreographed. Then everyone joins in. There is often a DJ or una cantante e un tastierista (a singer and a keyboard player); there may even be a quartetto di archi  (string quartet).

More Italian Wedding Vocabulary

It’s an exciting thing to go to a nozze italiane  (Italian wedding—also sometimes called a matrimonio ). 

Below, you’ll find some more essential Italian wedding vocabulary:

La chiesa The church
Il luogo del matrimonio The wedding venue
La damigella / Le damigelle The bridesmaid / The bridesmaids*
La testimone / Le testimoni The maid of honor / The maids of honor
Il testimone / I testimoni The best man / The groomsmen
Gli invitati The guests
L'organizzatore di matrimoni / Il wedding planner The wedding planner
Il fotografo (di matrimonio) The (wedding) photographer
L'abito da sposa / Il vestito da sposa The wedding dress
L'abito dello sposo The groom's suit
Gli inviti di matrimonio / Le partecipazioni di nozze The wedding invitations
Le promesse di matrimonio / I voti nuziali The wedding vows
Le fedi nuziali The wedding rings
I fiori The flowers
Il bouquet The bouquet
Sposarsi To get married
Fare un brindisi a... To make a toast to...

*Note that bridesmaids are not as common at Italian weddings. Traditionally, the bride and groom choose one or two testimoni (maids of honor/groomsmen). Usually, these people will be close friends or family members.

A good way to learn more wedding vocabulary is by consuming Italian wedding content, such as blogs, and writing down any new terms. You can also find some wedding-related Italian clips on the FluentU program.

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A Few Things to Keep in Mind About Italian Weddings

Here are a few things you should know about Italian weddings:

First: food. It shouldn’t surprise you that food is an important feature of Italian weddings, so you may also want to brush up on your Italian food and drink vocabulary.

Italians also love to sing, so knowing a few of the most popular Italian songs could also help (and if you’re going to a Sicilian wedding, you’ll really want to know “Ciuri Ciuri” and “Vitti na Crozza,” though beware that they’re in Sicilian).

As with everything else Italian, wedding vocabulary and customs vary enormously from region to region. There’s also variation depending on whether the wedding is religious, and according to the social class and the particular tastes of those involved.


These customs and phrases should give you a general guide to surviving your next Italian wedding. For more, there are some good guides to more traditional Italian customs you might see crop up.

But the very best guide will of course be the particular fidanzati  (fiancés) in your life, so just ask them any questions you might have about what their wedding will be like. They may in fact be planning an original take on the Italian traditions above, or something entirely different.

And if you’re the one about to get hitched with an Italian, and you’ve come across this article looking for advice for a happy marriage, you’re going to need a whole lot more vocabulary and cultural insight than a single post from a language blog can provide. Good luck with that.

I guess you’ll have a lifetime to learn!

And One More Thing...

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