Story: An Italian Wedding (showgirl hair optional)

Ah, Italian weddings are a beast onto themselves and none so much so than ones in Naples. Wilde by Design, a marvellous vintage and bespoke wedding dresses company, posted this story of mine on their website.

My delightfully organised American friend Olivia was getting married to an Italian. She used to be my flatmate in Rome before she moved back to America with her fiancé, Alessandro, and she is the first of my friends to take the plunge and marry Italiano.

As she has Brazilian & Italian blood (read she’s just as dramatica as he is) she thinks the intercultural marriage won’t be too much of a shock.

The rest of us, however, know otherwise.

For starters, Olivia likes to be in control and this wedding saw the get-married-young, cleanliness-is-godliness, boot-camp-loving American marry a so very-Italian chef, food-is-king, Napoletano; in a small town called Avellino; whilst living in America; with the ‘help’ her new Italian Mother-in-Law.

She won’t see the flowers, menus, etc. until a week before the wedding.

There was only one person with control and it wasn’t Olivia.

The venue was the Galassia Park Hotel, just outside Avellino, in the hills above Naples. My friend Francesca met me in Rome and we drove down together but Sat. Nav. or no, we could not find the hotel.

We wound around hills, fought with the disembodied voice that took us up dead ends, cursed the wrong directions the locals sitting roadside gave us, and then waved at said locals as we passed them again and again.

Up and down, and round and round, we went.

Finally, we found the hotel (we’d only passed it twice). Torrential rain hopped off the ground as we ran from the car park to the hotel and wondered vaguely why there were no other cars or people around.

Inside, eerie silence prevailed.

Buona Sera” said Francesca hopefully.


Then an elderly woman shuffled slowly to the counter.

She asked who we were.

We gave our names.

Our names weren’t on the list.

We were with the bridal party, we said.

There was only one bridal party and it wouldn’t arrive until the next day, she said.

We were part of that bridal party, we said.

If we were part of that bridal party, why were we here today? She folded her arms.

It was another half an hour before we got a room.

The next day Olivia waltzed into the reception in a cloud of in-laws and family, tall and tanned and very much the bride-to-be. Her American father, an ex basket ball player, stood head and shoulders above the diminutive, chatty Italians.

That night the couple had a party in Alessandro’s family’s house in the mountains. People brought instruments to play – it’s a tradition in southern Italy for the groom to go to the bride’s house the night before the wedding, stand under her balcony, and serenade her.  True to showman form, Alessandro sang, minus balcony admittedly, and with a little help from his friends.

Later Olivia stood chatting to Alessandro’s father Ugo. They were talking bambini.

Or rather, he was talking children and Olivia was trying to change the subject.

He thought he could persuade her to call their first son Ugo in line with family tradition.

Or Ugetta for a daughter—he was reasonable after all.

“If you come to America for the Christening, I will call my bambino Ugo” she announced.

Ugo had never been on a plane.

Ugo didn’t like the idea of flying.

Olivia smiled angelically…

Read the rest of the story on Wilde by Design.

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