Big Fat Italian Weddings Spark Crime Wave

by Nicole Martinelli
posted Thu 10 July 9:38 am

Big, fat traditional Italian weddings have become so expensive that would-be brides and grooms are begging, borrowing and, yes, stealing to have enough money for the big day.

Recent nuptial-related crimes include a couple in Rome who were caught with fake scratch-off lottery tickets trying to save enough to say ‘I do’ in 50 euro increments (they’d managed to get 1,400 euro so far) and a groom in Turin who stole money from the bride to pay for all that pomp. She reportedly asked for a divorce after seeing the state of her bank account.

Italians aren’t having big families anymore but that doesn’t keep them from having big weddings — and more of them. After a downward trend in weddings in the 1980s, the last few years have registered a boom (about 3,000 more couples each year than the previous year) in those taking the big step. All those relatives, a five-course meal, wedding favors, a designer dress, an exotic honeymoon: at 25,000 euro the ‘average’ Italian wedding is anything but when compared to the $18,000 to $21,000 spent in the US. The stretch? An average Italian income is $7,600 less than a US counterpart.

Not only are the weddings a financial burden, but sometimes the planning lasts longer than the marriage itself. Italian couples are prone to long engagements (averaging almost five years) and the trend seems to be lengthening.

“Let’s see — we were engaged for seven years, officially for a year and a half,” marketing consultant Susanna Carazza, 31, told zoomata. “The marriage was over in about 18 months…I get a little queasy every time I think about how much it cost.”

Carazza says the cost of ‘doing things right’ was unexpectedly high — from the 500 euro donation to the church, the 3,000 euro spent on her dress and the 4,000 euro spent on a the video and an endless series of posed photographs in a nearby castle — her estimate for the total cost is more like 30,000 euro.

The expense has become so high that the Italian government is working to change tax laws to make wedding costs tax deductible, but more young Italians are avoiding marriage altogether. Italy still has the lowest rate of couples living together in Europe — but that figure has nearly doubled in the last decade to 344,000 partners between 25-40 years old.

The general wedding fever might explain the unexpected success in Italy of plodding reality TV show ‘Marry Me Now,’ which was criticized heavily before it even aired by parent groups and religious associations. Despite the misleading title — Italians cannot legally be married in a TV studio — it regularly creamed the competition, the equally plodding local version of ‘The Bachelor.’ Organizers have announced that this nuptial farce will be a fixture in the RAI’s fall schedule.@1999-2008 this is an original news story. Play nice. Please use contact form for reprint/reuse info.

Related resources:
Abbondanza! Planning an Italian Wedding

Italian City of Venice Helps Couples Wed

Italy’s First Gay Union

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