December 2, 2023 | Rome, Italy

Wedding control

By |2018-03-21T18:38:30+01:00October 12th, 2009|Lifestyle Archive|
Stress? What stress?

f anyone asked me now what it was like organizing my Italian wedding, I might reply… interesting. As soon Fabio and I announced our plans (we married in September), the floodgates opened. Words of warning began piling up.

Fabio’s cousin: “Oh, you’ll see. It’s such a stressful time. You’ll have to attend millions of things together and by the end of it the two of you will be at each other’s throats.”


Then a “friend” chimed in: “A week before the wedding, I called my in-laws to tell them not even to bother coming to Rome, that I was no longer marrying their son. That was how stressed out I was.”

After more horror stories, I made two key decisions:

  • 1. I would plan concisely (not a Bridezilla);

  • 2. I wouldn’t force Fabio into the preparations.

That didn’t mean he didn’t care. It did mean I couldn’t count on him for certain things.

For example, I never dreamed that Fabio would give up his Sunday soccer marathon to pick out bouquets and table decorations at the florist. Mai. So I didn’t try.

Granted, some girls get lucky. Some men actually like picking out fabrics, flowers and attend food-tasting parties.

Fabio isn’t one of them. He told me to call him only when he needed to be present to sign a check. Punto.

I also paid attention to my own peace of mind. While I enjoyed the planning, I didn’t want my weekends overrun. If I liked something and the price was right, that was it: Sold. Too many choices confuse me.

Some of our friends were shocked by the approach. When I went to see my florist Alberto about my bouquet and the church decorations, I had a clear idea of what I wanted walking in. After a half hour of negotiation, he drew up a “floral plan” and gave me an estimate. When’s out next” appointment? he asked. Next appointment? Why?

I asked him if he had email (not every Italian does). He did. Okay, I replied, our next and final appointment would be when I met him to pay. The rest could work via email. Basta.

The photographer was even more shocked. Ecco. I should mention that wedding photography in Italy works a bit differently than in the United States.

Some Italian brides make wedding pictures into soft-core porn shoots. Not me. “I absolutely do not want pictures of me in sexy poses straddling my bed, ” I told him. “Don’t even think of it. Spare us both the embarrassment.”

I’d actually seen a few of these Playboy-style shots on newlywed walls and in albums. Hard to look at, actually. Imagine glancing at these your in-laws. No thanks.

When I finished with the photographer, guess what he asked? About the next appointment. “The husband-to-be likes to give his opinion on the kinds of photos, blah, blah, blah.” “Forse non hai capito,” I replied.

Read my lips: You’ll be meeting Fabio on the wedding day, and to be on the safe side I’ll send you a photo so you recognize him.

Women friends fretted about stress. “You’ll lose a ton of weight and look tired,” a friend chimed in. As a result, I had my seamstress to take in the dress a few inches.

Lose weight? Fat chance. Before the wedding, Fabio and I attended endless dinners. I was on carbonara cruise control. I could have been the first bride in history (well, in Italian history) to have gained weight before the wedding. The dress still fit, but snugly.

What nobody prepared me for was how I’d feel. The commonplace is that you’ll be nervous but it’ll also be the happiest day of your life.

In fact, I was calm until minutes before we left for the church. As photographers snapped shots of us at home I heard a knock on the door. It was an elderly woman who claimed to be my neighbor. I didn’t recognize her.

There was water leaking on her balcony from my apartment, she declared.

It’s the air conditioner, I replied, promising to take care of it immediately.

But no, she continued her lament, this time in the direction of the photographers. “What if it’s a leaky faucet and it floods my house.”

Okay, enough was enough. “Listen,” I snapped, “as you might notice from my dress, I’m getting married today, and I’m now running late because of you. So you need to leave now.” I was… pissed. I actually marched her out the door.

Truth be told, the best part of the whole thing for me was the ceremony itself, when everyone’s eyes are glued on you. The week before the wedding, Fabio and I had done a couple dry runs of the ceremony with our priest. I was still worried about making mistakes. Fabio on the other hand was a pro.

And so it began. I walked in, we sat down and everything looked good. People seemed happy, which put me at ease. We exchanged vows, traded rings. What a breeze, I thought. Confidence was my middle name. After I put on Fabio’s ring on, we kissed and the priest told the assembly we were husband and wife. We kissed again, everyone clapped, and we sat down.

It was than that I heard the psssttt, psssttt, psssttt behind me. It was Fabio’s cousin pointing to his hand. I’d Fabio’s ring on the wrong hand. Oh, Lord. Oh well, at least I got his name right.

About the Author:

Nicole Arriaga wrote features and a column ("Bella Figura") between 2004 and 2012.