Our custom of offering wedding favours will make your celebration in Rome even more memorable.
What was once a matrimonial custom limited to the highest ranks of European aristocracy has become increasingly popular at British weddings as well. In Italy, a wedding without a sachet containing 5 confetti, or Jordan almonds, along with a little bauble to take home, is unthinkable. We Italians, of course, have proven to be wonderfully creative in coming up with options in every style and price range.
The tradition of offering wedding guests something to enjoy on the spot and something to take home with them has roots that are somewhat difficult to trace. Before the end of the 12th century, in Italy it was common for guests to offer the newlyweds rice, nuts, and cereals as a way of wishing them happiness, prosperity, and fertility. During the 13th century, these were gradually replaced with nuts dipped in honey, a custom that eventually evolved into sugar-coated almonds.
Toward the end of the Middle Ages, at the reception the bride would typically be found standing next to a table holding a plate of these almond confections, spooning a few into the eager hands of everyone who passed. But always odd, indivisible numbers of them to reflect the unshakable unity of the new union.
The Renaissance and Baroque eras witnessed a remarkable cultural shift in Italian aristocratic courts, which sought ever greater elegance and refinement. An exchange of gifts between the parents became customary, but at the time of betrothal rather than at the wedding itself. With time, this shifted to the reception banquet and was extended to everyone invited. Although privileged guests at noble nuptials were certainly well fed, the priority was quality over quantity. Replacing the successive waves of heavy meats of days gone by, small precious boxes or covered vases in ivory, mother-of-pearl, or even silver or gold, each containing a little treat, were offered as a special thanks for sharing in the new couple’s joy.
By the 18th century, the custom had spread to France, where the royal court outshone all others in Europe for its sumptuous celebrations. The exquisite boxes containing bonbons were called bonbonnières, a name that travelled back south across the Alps to become bomboniere.
In Italy today, the little bag with 5 confetti (representing wealth, health, happiness, longevity, and fertility) is accompanied by an additional gift as a memento. These can run from the rigorously traditional, varying from region to region (tiny ceramic containers or mini portions of local gastronomic products), to the sagely practical (handmade wooden kitchen utensils or personalised pen drives), to the laudably eco-friendly (personalised sachets of seeds to plant or all-natural soaps and salts). There are plenty of humorous possibilities on offer, gadgets and gag gifts to tickle the funny bone, and even saucy options for the more perniciously daring!
Then, of course, there is the whole range of Rome-related tchotchkes and trinkets – key chains and coasters, bottle openers and fridge magnets – as well as Italian items like Venetian glass baubles or Florentine leather products. You might even choose something from one of the shops on Rome’s Gay Street, just a block from the Colosseum, for an authentic local LGBTQ+ look.
The point is, you’ve got choices. A conversation with your Wedding Planner will help you explore the possibilities and narrow the field to something that fits the tone and theme of your celebration. With a little guidance, you won’t need to spend a fortune to find the right favour. This will lend another distinctly Italian touch to your Ceremony in Rome, giving your guests something iconic to take home along with their memories.