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Do Italians eat wedding soup at weddings?

Wedding soup is a traditional Italian soup that is often served at wedding celebrations in Italy. It is a hearty chicken broth-based soup filled with small meatballs and greens. While wedding soup did not originate as a dish specifically meant for weddings, it has become customary to serve it at Italian wedding celebrations over time.

What is wedding soup?

Wedding soup, also known as Italian wedding soup or married soup, is a soup made with chicken or beef broth, small meatballs, greens, pasta, and often eggs. Some of the most common ingredients in wedding soup are:

  • Chicken or beef broth – This provides the base flavor for the soup.
  • Meatballs – Small, bite-sized meatballs are one of the hallmarks of wedding soup. The meatballs are often made from a mixture of ground beef, ground pork, breadcrumbs, egg, and Parmesan cheese.
  • Greens – Escarole, endive, spinach, kale and chard are commonly used. The greens are added towards the end to wilt in the broth.
  • Pasta – Small pasta shapes like orzo or acini di pepe are customary.
  • Eggs – Beaten eggs are slowly drizzled into the hot soup right before serving to add richness.
  • Vegetables – Onions, carrots, celery and garlic are usually used as the aromatic base.
  • Cheese – Grated Parmesan adds flavor.

This combination of ingredients creates a hearty, comforting soup. The name “wedding soup” likely comes from the marriage of flavors in the soup.

Is wedding soup traditionally served at Italian weddings?

Yes, wedding soup has become a tradition at many Italian wedding celebrations. There are a few reasons why this soup gained popularity as a meal for weddings:

  • The name implies it is a “marriage” of ingredients, which connects it symbolically to weddings.
  • It is hearty, warm, and comforting – perfect for celebrating with loved ones.
  • The small meatballs were thought to resemble coins, so the soup could represent wishes for prosperity for the new couple.
  • The beaten egg drizzled in at the end also symbolized fertility, growth, and new beginnings.

While the soup was not created solely for weddings, these traditional meanings and symbolic touches made it a natural choice for wedding ceremonies over time.

When is wedding soup served at Italian weddings?

There are a few different times wedding soup may make an appearance at an Italian wedding celebration:

  • As a first course at the wedding reception dinner.
  • At the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding.
  • As part of a multi-course Italian wedding menu.
  • As late-night comfort food at the end of the wedding reception.

Serving it earlier in the celebration allows the wedding party and guests to appreciate the symbolism of the dish in regard to the union and starting a family. Serving it late in the festivities provides nourishment and warmth as the night winds down.

What other Italian dishes are commonly served at weddings?

While wedding soup has become customary, it is far from the only Italian dish served at wedding celebrations. Other popular options include:

  • Pasta – Lasagna, baked ziti, ravioli, and gnocchi are pasta favorites.
  • Seafood – Dishes like shrimp scampi or lobster ravioli.
  • Meat – Chicken, beef, pork, or veal prepared in Italian style.
  • Risotto – Rich risottos made with seasonal ingredients.
  • Salad – Caprese salad with tomatoes, mozarella, and basil.
  • Bread – Focaccia, ciabatta, or Italian wedding bread.

The first courses tend to be lighter pastas, seafood, or salads, followed by heavier meat and risotto entrees. Italian wedding cake, cannolis, or panna cotta round out the meal with something sweet.

Interesting facts about Italian wedding traditions

Italian weddings are steeped in tradition. Here are some interesting facts about Italian wedding customs:

  • The night before the wedding, the groom often stands outside his fianceé’s window singing a serenade.
  • Wedding parties can be quite large, with up to 10 bridesmaids and groomsmen each.
  • Scrolled wedding invitations formally invite guests to share in the couple’s joy.
  • The wedding day traditionally starts with a church ceremony rich in rituals and blessings.
  • After the ceremony is a reception feast called a banchetto which means “little banquet.”
  • Instead of a wedding bouquet, the bride may carry a silk bag of sugared almonds as a symbol of the bitter and sweet of marriage.
  • The traditional wedding cake is millefoglie, a layered puff pastry cake.
  • At the reception, the newlyweds cut a ribbon to symbolically open the dance floor and join their guests.

Italian weddings blend time-honored traditions with modern celebrations to create a joyful, festive union filled with delicious food, love, and laughter.


In summary, wedding soup has become a customary part of Italian wedding celebrations, though it did not originate solely as a wedding dish. The soup’s ingredients symbolize prosperity and fertility for the new marriage. Wedding soup is often served alongside other classic Italian fare at either the rehearsal dinner or the reception. It provides a warm, comforting note highlighting the significance of the union being celebrated.