WHAT TO EXPECT FROM AN ITALIAN WEDDING: MY EXPERIENCE AS A GUEST

Dear world,

In the past few months, L and I have been to a few weddings in Italy, which is quite unusual for us. It feels like all our friends decided to wait until 2018 to get married – or rather that since we are now back from Australia, we are closer to home and can finally participate to those lovely social gatherings.

The weddings were all awesome and they were all in different places around the country. One was at a villa by the sea, another one was in a field, one was almost on the beach and my sister’s one was in a wine cellar. We had really good food, we drunk good wine and we danced all night. We also took the chance to visit places we’ve never been to before, explore some hidden corners of our country and spend some time on the road again.

 

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Weddings are magical, the atmosphere is usually relaxed, most people are in a good mood and there’s no need to hurry as everything has already been planned. As a guest, you just have to enjoy the day, forget about your busy life at home and have some good wine with old and new friends.

On two occasions, in particular, we already knew most of the guests, but on the other two weddings we’ve been to, we only knew the bride and the groom (and one other guest, who was thankfully sitting at our table). We managed to have fun at all four anyway and because we are now feeling like wedding experts, I’ll share with you what I’ve learnt about managing expectations and most of all having fun.

 

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Firstly, I’d say: don’t travel solo.

Italian weddings tend to last one whole day. We’ve learnt that there’s typically a buffet where you can drink the first glass of spritz or prosecco of the day and eat your starters. After one hour and a half, you normally go and sit at your table, where you have some warm mains (typically one pasta, one risotto, meat and/or fish). Because there are a few courses, it’s ok to leave the table for a short walk outside if you need to stretch your legs. Finally, there’s the cake (and the buffet with desserts), followed by some dancing and a few games.

To me, being there with L was a huge plus because I don’t normally talk for more than half an hour/one hour to a person I’ve just met. However, I can talk at length for a whole day to poor L. Having someone I enjoy talking to who doesn’t bother listening to me for 12 hours was a real bonus.

 

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Take your time when it comes to talking to other guests

At the first wedding I went to, I almost felt the pressure of getting to know new people. There are so many guests, you wish you could get to know them all. The problem here is that the relatives of the two families will most probably want to spend their time talking to each other to make the most of that chance of being together once again. They don’t normally pay attention to guests who are not family-related.

On the other hand, those who are just acquaintances will be looking out for new people to meet, especially after a glass of wine. It may not be too easy to grasp who’s who straight away so I normally give myself some time, enjoy the first buffet talking to my plus one and observe what’s going on around me, then use the breaks in between courses to get to know other people. There’s a good chance that I’ll find someone interesting to talk to at my table anyway.

At my sister’s wedding, on the other hand, I quickly checked who would be sitting at my table. That’s because being part of the family of the bride, I already knew quite a few guests and I didn’t want to spend the time at the first buffet talking to the same people I was going to share the table with. You don’t want to deplete all your conversation starters too early to then sit down and stare at your uncle and auntie for half an hour, not saying a word.

 

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What am I going to talk about with all these other guests?

Anything, really. People love to be entertained and to hear stories from strangers so go ahead, talk about anything and they’ll listen. I do talk about anything: my latest holidays, how I met the bride or the groom, what I do at work (maybe I won’t talk about that at length though), what are the plans for my following weekends or what music I listen to. I then try and ask as many questions as I can and yes, it requires being bold but it’s a good way to discover more about the other person and have a laugh as well.

Also, at Italian weddings guests do not usually give a speech. This means that when you sit down at your table, there won’t be anyone to listen to. The conversation is really up to you and the other few lucky guests sitting next to you. Don’t be shy, people will be thankful to anyone who’s doing the talking.

 

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Forget about time and have fun

I love parties, I love good food and a glass of wine. Weddings can be long if you are anxious, nervous or stressed about something that is not related to the event. If you decide to go to an Italian wedding, consider that day as gone. You’ll join a sort of time bubble where everyone is happy and relaxed. Take a big breath and do the same: relax, seize the day. Guests would normally start leaving the party once the wedding cake is cut anyway, that is at least five hours after the starters. And that’s normally when it starts to get exciting as people start dancing or playing games!

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Family portrait: my little brother, our dog and I

 

.Each wedding is different and magical in its own way and I used to think they were boring when in fact I can say I’ve enjoyed myself a lot this year. Now I can’t wait for the next one…

What about you, what do you enjoy the most when you attend a wedding?