Sicilian wedding traditions

now and then…

Old sicilian wedding traditions sound awkward today: just think of getting to know your future husband only some time before the wedding? Sounds strange, but that was the reality of many Sicilian girls in the past. Of course, these out-of-date customs are gone long time ago, but you know that here in Italy people are generally very respectful about their traditions in every aspect of life, and in particular, the ones that see marriage and family values. Let’s have a closer look what has changed through the years and how a traditional Sicilian wedding looks now.

In the past, both boys and girls, didn’t have any right to decide who they should marry, instead it was their parents’ concern to choose the best option for their children. This “best option” criteria didn’t include any physical attractiveness of a candidate but only his or her social status and assets, that could give new opportunities for the families. That was the rule for both aristocratic and peasant families, so in many occasions a bride-to-be girl could meet her future husband just some time before the wedding!

"The “best option” criteria didn’t include any physical attractiveness of a candidate but only his or her social status and assets, that could give new opportunities for the families"

The situation began to change in the XXth century and “arranged marriages” have gone almost completely after the World War II. Young people finally gained an opportunity to choose their partner without help of their relatives, but still in the South of Italy the society remained more puritanical than in the North of the country. For example, when a girl was going out for a date, she should have been accompanied by a younger member of the family to "keep an eye" on a couple! I heard these stories from my mother-in-law when she was going out with her male friends in the end of 1970s, so this habit persisted here for a pretty long time, and I wouldn't wonder if somewhere in Sicily this happens even nowadays!

"Today an average age for a sicilian bride is 33-40, while for a groom it's 37-45 years old"

Another thing that did change drastically is an average age of getting married. In the past girls used to get married just after they’d reached the age of majority, and men had to be at least 28, however only after they’d accomplished military service. Divorces weren’t allowed in Italy until 1970, so marriages literally lasted a lifetime, but even now divorces in Sicily are not well accepted, so modern Sicilian couples prefer having long engagements before making up their mind and getting married. Today an average age for a bride is 33-40, while for a groom it's 37-45.

"When a girl was going out for a date, she should have been accompanied by a younger member of the family to "keep an eye" on a couple!"

Most Sicilians couples still prefer getting married in church, whereas in the northern Italian regions civil ceremonies are gaining more popularity. Religious ceremony takes longer time for planning and implies that a couple attends a specialized pre-wedding course. These courses are organized by local catholic churches and consist in several meetings with a priest. At the end a couple gets a proper certificate of attendance that they have to attach among other documents for their marriage application.

 

Back in times Italian weddings celebrations used to be very numerous, but recently there’s a clear tendency for more intimate wedding with reasonable budget, especially in Lombardy, Veneto and Piedmont. Sicily is still stuck to traditions where wedding is seen as one of the most important events, so it’s still common to see 150-200 names in the guest list. Wedding reception would be organized in a luxury venue with refined menu and all celebration would be often paid on loan! 

Obviously, the Covid-19 pandemics of 2020 accelerated the trend for cosy family weddings even in Sicily, so the forthcoming 2021 will be a year of intimate celebrations for both local and foreign couples.

Fortunately enough, Sicily has so much to offer for different kinds of celebrations! If you choose this island for your destination wedding, you definitely won't need any loans with your budget planned well. Just in case, I’m here for you!

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