For Better or for Worse at a Wedding in Italy

Angela Dansby
Wedding at Vincigliata Castle in Fiesole, Italy

Everyone’s heard of a groom with cold feet … but a priest?

When my sister, Melanie, decided to get married in Italy, I knew there would be some challenges. First, she and her then fiancé Sean were not Catholic. Second, she was not in control of the event as she hired a wedding planner to translate and make arrangements. Third, she respects time and Italians generally do not.

Based on these three factors, Mel and Sean had limited options for a priest willing to marry them atop a mountain in a former palace (Castello di Vincigliata) in the village Fiesole outside of Florence. Recruited was a priest living in the nearby city of Lucca, about an hour’s drive away.

On the day of the wedding, unfortunately it rained, forcing the planned outdoor ceremony inside a small, glass-enclosed room. (Italians told the disappointed would-be-weds that it’s a blessing for it to rain on your wedding day in Italy.) About 100 guests crammed into the humid, tight space, dripping with sweat as the processional music began. The beautiful melody masked the panic behind the scene.

“Where is the priest?!” Mel frantically asked, sweat rolling down her cheeks. I gently reminded her that Italian time is different than American time as she dialed him in a panic on her cell phone.

“Bad traffic, bad traffic,” I heard him say as she was about to strangle him through the phone. Given that plus a winding road up the mountain to climb, the music was stopped and sweltering guests allowed to go outside to cool off in fresh air.

Meanwhile, the air got hotter and hotter backstage as Mel cursed the priest and questioned why she and Sean decided to get married in Italy. (They got engaged there and figured guests would love such a destination wedding.)

“Serenity now, serenity now,” I repeated in honor of Frank Costanza on the sitcom “Seinfeld.”

Thirty minutes later, the priest showed up disheveled and panicked with a stack of papers in his hands. Those were his cliff notes for the ceremony. He adjusted his clerical clothing, smoothed his hair and organized his notes. Everyone was called back inside and the procession started again.

Relieved the priest showed up at all, Mel’s seething led to “teething” as she smiled graciously while making her way down the aisle on our father’s arm. It was her wedding day after all. Sean beamed at the end of the aisle as she approached. All was back on track except for the priest mispronouncing her name the entire ceremony.

“Melani, do you take this man to be your husband for better or for worse?” he asked.

As “for worse” had already happened, Mel said “yes,” chuckling as she looked lovingly at Sean. Then the entire audience burst out into laughter and cheered.

This was the beginning of a series of mishaps related to the American wedding in Italy. But it was certainly one to remember.

Considering that 15 years later “Melani” and Sean are still happily married, apparently, it was good luck for it to rain on their wedding day after all.

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