My family unfortunately cannot boast Italian heritage, but I’ve always felt that we are Italian at heart in more ways than one. I’ve come to the conclusion that the local Italian clans in my hometown must think so, too! I grew up eating lots of their wonderful food, going to a few of their lively celebrations, and hearing stories dating back to the 70’s that took place in their local joint. We may not have one of those fancy last name or dark locks, but we definitely share quiet a few, pretty important life principles. My wedding was no exception.
It was the event of the year – at least I think it was. Nine of my ten siblings made it out to welcome the new brother-in-law. My Uncle fixed up Grandma’s old car and played chauffeur for the Mister and I. My sister provided dozens of incredible cupcakes while rest of our full-blown Italian dinner was made by many loving hands. (Myself included!) The entire affair was one giant everyone-pitches-in-DIY project from the tent to the flowers to the homemade wine. And my, was that wine something else.
We didn’t want to throw the typical, small-town-Ohio Beer fest to celebrate our nuptials. That just isn’t how we roll. But wine? We could do wine and lots of it. Our friends gifted us several gallons they had made by hand from the produce off their farm. My mom had picked up about a dozen “back up” bottles for in case we ran out, but the majority of our celebratory drink was subtle, sweet, and like nothing ever served at any other wedding. It was one of the many contributing factors that made our day ours.
There is something to be said about hand crafted gifts. So often, the emphasis for presents lands on items purchased off a registry to help the couple get started in their new life. And, though I am not saying that these monetary and store-bought gifts aren’t valuable, the non-typical route of gift giving can go just as far if not farther. I don’t particularly remember who gifted us what that ended up on our gift table. That’s not to say that we didn’t appreciate all of the wonderful things received, but it’s the unconventional gifts that still remain fresh in my mind. I can still tell you who blessed us with hand-me-down decorations, who MC’d the reception, who baked bread, who helped hand-roll meatballs, who prioritized the more technical elements of our setting, and who lent us the cotton candy machine, but you’ll be hard pressed for me to tell you who bought us a crock-pot. That doesn’t make me any less grateful for the more normal gifts that now fill our cabinets and cupboards.
Having the gift of wine and knowing the effort that went into making that is special to me. As you are planning your wedding, creating the guest list, and trying to figure out just how all the pieces are going to fall together, don’t forget the unconventional gift option. It might seem awkward to approach someone and deliberately ask them to gift you their talent or service, but I can guarantee that they will be more than happy to oblige you whatever it is that they have to offer for your wedding day instead of a new toaster. You might not end up with wine or a unique table to sit at with your new hubby, but you will end up with something else. Something invaluable that will save you time, money, effort, and stick with you for years to come.
If you ever spend much time around an Italian (or Italian-like, in my case) family, you will quickly learn that any event is a team event. Everyone pitches in to produce the best possible outcome. It’s not about being recognized for your contributions to the affair. It is all about the community.
I’ve heard it said many times that it takes a village to raise a child, but I believe that applies to every aspect of our lives, including weddings.
Enjoy the wine, or whatever it is that has been gifted to you for you special day, and know that you have been gifted something far greater than money can buy.