An Italian Wedding: The Pre-wedding Festivities

I’m going to have to just admit up front that I did not do the best job documenting this amazing experience through photos. A middle of the night departure from Germany, followed by a full day of activities with no nap to be had, before finally finding our heads on a pillow close to midnight, suffice it to say my energy levels were just way too low to do a proper job.

However, I will do my best to recap what ended up being the most unique and awesome wedding (and wedding weekend) we’ve ever been a part of.

It started on Friday. Our friend, the groom – let’s call him Marco for sake of ease since I didn’t get his permission to use his name on the blog, picked Aubrey and I up from the airport and gave us a ride into Sacile. Will was still working on a trial back in Germany and wouldn’t be joining us until Saturday, so while we waited for him to arrive we got to join in on all the family functions leading up to the wedding.

Shortly after settling in our hotel we met back at Marco’s apartment to carpool over to his future in-laws for lunch. As Aubrey and I walked into the apartment we were met by a collection of faces, some slightly familiar, others not at all, all of which were smiling, and none of which seemed the least bit surprised that even though they didn’t know who we were we walked into the living room and made ourselves at home. Marco was nowhere to be seen at the moment.

Aubrey and I started introducing ourselves, and she shortly reprised her role as the center of attention, as she seems to do in any crowd these days. Girl is a total ham and loves the attention.

A little while later, a harbinger for just how Italian time seems to work, Marco and his bride-to-be (let’s call her Elaina) arrived and it was time to head out for lunch.

I’ve always had visions of what it would be like to join in on a big Italian family dinner. I’m happy to report that it was everything I had imagined. From the time we set foot in the door till the time we left the house was filled with happy boisterous conversation. Lunch was served in a manner of courses, as is custom in Italy, starting with a pistachio pasta, followed by a thin cutlet of breaded chicken, salad (always served last in Italy), and fresh fruit for dessert. Wine and soda water littered the table, and it was all I could do not to eat my bodyweight in the food that was set before me.

There was a large assortment of dolls and toys scattered all over the living room, necessary supplies for the multiple kids Marco’s mother in law watches regularly. Aubrey settled in, learning to navigate shared play with the other little girls who immediately claimed all of the toys for themselves. I never realized how hard it would be to sit back and let Aubrey sort things out for herself.

The afternoon wore on, with people rotating through the front door. We had a dinner engagement that was supposed to start at 6:00 and the time was already nearing 4:00. And has nature would have it, Aubrey finally crashed in my arms mere minutes before it was time to leave. How she had made it over 13 hours without a nap was beyond me.

A few short hours later, thankfully at a new time of 7:00, we met back over at Marco’s, then walked to the pizzeria next door for dinner. Dinner was a continuation of meeting the people that had traveled near and far for the wedding, along with a few pep talks for the much anticipated final event of the night – Marco’s serenade to his bride-to-be.

The serenade is a tradition, not sure if it’s specific to Elaina’s family, or to Italy in general. For the serenade, Elaina’s family chose a song for Marco to sing to Elaina while being documented by the wedding videographer, and flanked by singing performances by Elaina’s family.

That night Aubrey and I found ourselves in a crowd of friends and family, trying hard to keep their excited conversation to a low roar as we waiting patiently for the show to begin. The serenade is a surprise for the bride. Before too long, large lights were set up illuminating Marco’s “stage,” the singers were in place, and the music began. A few moments passed before the door opened and Elaina was met with a street full of people and music filling the air. When the time came, Marco bravely clutched his microphone and offered his best rendition of Fools Rush In, while a teary eyed Elaina quietly watched. We all cheered and joined in giving Marco our best melodic support, then it was time for the family to continue with their musical selections.

For a time they sang a collection of more modern Italian songs, but then a man with an accordion broke into song, belting out traditional tunes from their families’ hometowns.

Being in the military has brought me many moments when I can’t help but stop and appreciate the fact that I would have never gotten to have those moments without the Air Force. That night, with the accordion in the background and a heartfelt beautiful Italian melody playing through the air, on a street in a small Italian town, with people cheers-ing their glasses of prosecco and extending their well wishes to the newlyweds, I was just so…thankful. Never in a million years could I have guessed that I would have found myself there. It’s memories like those that make up for the sacrifices you make living the military life, at least for those of us that value that kind of thing.

I loved it so much that I fought through the total exhaustion I felt from still not having had a wink of sleep since waking up at 2:00 am, for as long as I could. Eventually it caught up with me though, and Aubrey and I bummed a ride back to the hotel around midnight. Will was arriving the next morning.

The day before the wedding Marco and I picked up Will from the airport, then Will and I took the afternoon to ourselves to stroll around Sacile, before the casual dinner at Marco’s apartment that night.

What was meant to be a casual dinner anyway.

The plan was for a few people to come over to Marco’s apartment and hang out for a while. To relax before the big day if you will. What really happened was that just about everyone in town ended up coming, each bringing a bottle of wine to contribute, Marco’s brother took over the cooking, and basically the casual dinner turned into a party.

Aubrey was finally paying us back for the lack of sleep the day before so we had to skip out on the planned foray around town for the after party. We did, however, stop for a bite of gelato before turning in for the night.

It turned out we would need the extra rest. We soon learned Italian weddings are a bit different than American ones.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *