Viva gli Sposi: Long live the happy couple!

Viva gli Sposi: Long live the happy couple!
13 October 2015 Sarah Scholl

Weddings are taken seriously in every culture…

Whether traditionally speaking or thanks to the over abundance of hallmark importance, a wedding is guaranteed to turn everything into an uproar, and in Sicily a wedding is as important as Christmas, New Years, and every celebrated Saints day, but all combined.

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(Jay Gullotta photography)

Not surprising, but people come from all over the world to tie the knot in Taormina.  It’s quaint and romantic but extremely well equipped with venues, caterers, wedding planners, florists, photographers, etc.

But before the “necessity” of expensive gowns, gastronomically complex buffets, fancy vintage cars, and hundreds of guests, what did a wedding in Sicily actually look like?

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(Jay Gullotta photography)

Not wanting to go so far back as betrothals and dowries, but some of Sicily’s nuptial traditions still influence today’s couples.  For example the fedina, which is a less expensive sort of promise ring that couples will exchange to signify that they’re engaged.” HOWEVER, engaged is a very loose term!  I learned that in the most awkward way possible when I misunderstood fidanzati for affianced (we had just started dating) and corrected an elderly friend of my boyfriends family. Just dating or seeing someone has it’s own set of terminology but more often than not a couple are labeled “fidanzati” no matter how serious they are….so basically if you’re at the point where you’ve been introduced to the family, then you’re either fidanzati or you’re nothing…..no pressure….

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(Jay Gullotta photography)

In fact when we moved in together they started calling us the “sposini” (newlyweds).  Which I think would make any girl who’s 22 and not even engaged uncomfortable.  To this day it’s still common for singles to live with or be in part supported by their parents until they get married.  So needless to say I was flabbergasted when, after a short year together, my significant other braved leaving the nest to live with this brazen Americana.

The interesting thing is the tradition of extremely long engagements still stands here.  I know couples who have been together, no joke, 11 years (the average is 5 to 6 though).  They aren’t married or engaged, they still live separately, but they are considered a couple.  Traditionally speaking, long engagements were instated to give the man enough time to stabilize himself financially, but nowadays I think any modern women would call that bluff.

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(Jay Gullotta photography)

My absolute favorite tradition though is unorthodox and downright scandalous.  The fuitina! We call it eloping, but because Sicily is still so traditional the common vernacular, fuitina, is derived from fuggire meaning “to escape”! Back when a marriage had to be approved by the fathers, a young couple would force their parent’s hand to consent by running away together.  Although they wouldn’t be able to marry while away, upon their return, to avoid further scandal, the families were obligated to consent.  If there was anything worse than a forbidden marriage it was a ruined daughter and/or child out of wedlock.

Coming back to 2015 though, a wedding in Sicily is still surrounded by social importance. I suppose when you’re family has lived for generations and generations in the same place it forces an obligation onto family members to uphold the reputation. This means trying not to offend anybody by inviting everybody, and almost more importantly impressing everyone with the great food, location, and dress.

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(Jay Gullotta photography)

Fortunately, if you’re coming from out of town to celebrate a wedding in Taormina you get to skip all the social pomp and ceremony (if you want to) and dive right into the fun and, most important, personal enjoyment.  You can still book the Duomo and make the walk all the way down the Corso in full wedding attire with all your guests in tow, but no one will think any less of you for saying your vows on the balcony of some spectacular hotel and then dancing all night at Morgana.  The bottom line is, whatever you’re feelings are on weddings, Taormina wants for nothing, and you’re guaranteed a picturesque and memorable celebration with just as much (or as little) Sicilianity as you like 😉

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(Jay Gullotta photography)

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