What associations come to your mind when someone is speaking about a wedding? White dress, nerves, photographers, guests, relatives, bouquets? And what if we add the word «Italian»? Will anything change? When I hear about «Italian wedding», my first thoughts bring memories of the «Godfather» movie. Francis Ford Coppola showed the marriage in all detail. If you don’t remember, I strongly recommend you watch the film or continue carefully reading this article, where a significant element of any marriage in Italy is revealed. Of course, I’m mean Italian wedding reception.
Italians are mad about food. They do talk much and eat even more. This is no shame or problem to look into someone’s plate in restaurants or cafes, just to see what they have. Of course in any country, a wedding banquet is among the biggest parts of a budget, but in Italy, it is just the biggest one. With every new event, I’m invited to either as a professional Italian photographer or as a guest, I do feel how strong my love for local cuisine becomes. So, today I will share my personal experience of a true and very traditional wedding dinner in Italy of Francesca and James.
Brides and grooms planning a destination marriage, don’t forget about Italy because the opportunities here are unlimited. Together with my colleague and assistant Vladimir, we compiled words and photos to create a story about what Italians eat at weddings and how much. Warning! People on a diet or with weak willpower are not recommended to proceed. Also, it is not safe to read the article after dinner. You may feel hungry again.
This wedding in Rome of Francesca and James was held in June 2014. After the church ceremony, newlyweds and all the guests took their way out of the center of Rome toward a bit of village, where a real Italian wedding banquet was prepared.
We were read that the dinner was going to be a long and substantial one, but even I could have thought of how surprising full it could be. After arrival at a cute old garden that hid the people from the burning sun in its shadows, I realized why the groom was doing his best to lose some kilos before the big day.
There were many tables with white blankets on them covered with plates of delicious masterpieces. Antipasti or starters were just numerous.
To my mind, there were about 50 different kinds of antipasti. Suppose to tell in slices and pieces, maybe thousands.
And that amount of food was cooked for 150 guests.
According to all traditions, this is the chat responsible for the wedding menu, not the brides. The latter can mention their preferences and the number of guests invited. The rest of the business is taken over by the crew. And what is more important, the intrigue is based not on the dishes and their number but on the taste. The guest will estimate if the food was tasty or delicious.
Personally, I didn’t try anything new. I was kidding, of course.
All the dishes were cooked according to the typical Italian wedding menu. Nothing special, just a crazy number of delicious things: sausages, cheeses, shrimps, oysters, mussels, bread, prosciutto, bruschettas, meatballs, fresh fish and vegetables, grilled fish, meat and vegetables, canapés, soup, lots of everything in frying oil. My stomach and my mouth could not keep following my eyes and hands.
You can only imagine how hard it is to work and shoot in such terrible conditions when everything around smells as tasty as Italian cuisine can smell. But we are professionals, and we know when to make a slight pause.
Italians never hurry, especially in questions concerning food and eating. Antipasti stretched for three hours. Therefore, I managed to picture all the processes and guests and try most of the delicious starters.
All the guests were chatting and enjoying the evening.
Suddenly I realized that it was already the second hour of eating, but the amount of food didn’t decrease at all.
I wanted to drop into the kitchen to see what that magic tablecloth looked like, but my mission was to capture the people with the help of my cameras and capture the taste of the food with the help of my mouth.
So the secret was kept in the kitchen.
After three of our starter’s guests were finally ready to move forward, Francesca and James invited everyone to take their places around one of the tables hidden in the shade of ancient trees. I saw my colleagues’ faces puzzled with a question: «More food?» Yup! More and more! That was a real Italian wedding!
Working with lots of weddings in different parts of the world I got used to numerous speeches, loud music and revivers of alcohol. But in Italian tradition, marriage is, first of all, a family dinner. And in case someone wants to say something sweet or congratulate the couple, they come up during the day and express all the wishes in private—just the same thing with presents.
When you are a guest at a wedding in Italy, you have to eat correctly and talk as much as possible. And I have noticed a relation between talking to food. The more Italians eat, the more they talk to each other.
The first course was pasta. Nothing special, just absolutely delicious fettuccine with a source. Waiters were flying along with the garden with huge pans full of pasta delivering the meal hot and fresh to all the guests.
There were three courses of pasta! Three times for 150 guests. And with every new portion, the taste was more and more delicious so that no one could resist.
During the dinner, the bride and the groom wandered from table to table to speak with the guests and take group pictures with every family or company. Our team of professional photographers and videographers was also under the sweet control of James. Several times during the evening, he came up to us asking whether we felt well and whether we ate.
And we ate. Yes, we tried all the dishes, and they all were terrific. Pasta is not light, and one can’t eat much of it. But the chef managed to cook the most famous Italian dish the way everyone enjoyed it!
I don’t know whether it was good or bad, but we missed the last hot dish. It was steak with baked potatoes. I could only see its perfection in shape and feel the breathtaking smell while taking the photos. At that moment, some of the guests were ready with a special surprise for the newlyweds, and together we went inside.
One kilo of sweet everything at 1 a.m. is the best end of any party. But, again, there were many things to try, more than the eyes could take in: wedding cake, miniature cakes, tiramisu, chocolate, caramel, and sweets.
I could not believe that all these things could be eaten after such a dinner we had. I was wrong.
There were two wedding cakes. The first and the big one was a classic one—the second – was memorable for the newlyweds.
James is keen on paintball games. Therefore friends decorated the cake in such style.
I would also like to draw your attention to how Italians drink at weddings. The fact is that I’ve never seen a drunk guest at a wedding dinner. And there are several reasons for it.
They start with aperitivo — light snacks with light alcohol, mostly champagne. They also like to have Aperol Spritz in summer — a refreshing bitter cocktail. I don’t drink alcohol, but I still remember some of the flavors.
There are no limits for guests. You can drink as much as you can. But, of course, the catering company has to fuel everyone with anything requested.
With main courses, Italians like to drink either red or white vine, depending on what they eat. And after dinner, men usually have something more substantial.
And, of course, Italians won’t be themselves if they don’t drink coffee. So I would put the coffee on the same level as water. It was 1 a.m., and they were drinking espresso.
That was an authentic Italian wedding dinner of Francesca and James. It lasted about 7 hours, according to local traditions, that is precisely how much time people need to eat correctly and speak with everyone. So we can say that the success of any marriage in Italy depends powerfully on how people eat. So if you plan your destination wedding in Rome or any other city, contact us to get more info, and together we will create the best wedding dinner.