As many of you might've heard, even for the diaspora here in the States, an Italian wedding isn't a one day affair, but one with months' worth of preludes and parties in the run-up. And -- at least, in the old neighborhood -- Wedding Week traditionally kicks off with the Bridal Serenade.
I could write a book-length chapter on it, but in a nutshell the "family" (not simply blood relations, mind you, but long-moved away neighbors, childhood classmates, the local clergy... basically, everyone you've ever known who's still alive) congregates, usually at the "suitably" (i.e. garishly) decorated home of the bride's parents, where an open-house is prepared, complete with home-cooked, buffet-style extravaganza meal. Not to mention lots of booze. The whole block on which the house is located is usually closed off as the revelers spill into the street, and it's not unknown that a couple tents are brought in to shelter the overflow. A DJ is stationed by the front door, and it's hour after hour of eating, dancing in the streets and catching up with people you haven't seen in ages and you won't see again until the next iteration of these things.
More often than not, once everyone's in the proper disposition, an accordion is brought out.
The night reaches its climax when a 30-foot ladder is brought out and the bride-to-be appears at the upstairs window. The groom climbs the ladder, wireless mic in hand (knowing my cousin, he'll find some way to bring the accordion up, too), and the DJ spins the instrumental track to three or four sappy love songs, which the groom sings.
I've been tapped to read at the Nuptial Mass -- which I've basically planned -- and am reminded that I have to write the intercessions, and call to get the names of the deceased they want mentioned.... For the first time in a decade, I'll be returning to the ambo where my lectoring days began. After doing it practically weekly all through middle school, high school and college, I haven't proclaimed a reading in public in a long time. I'd love to return to it on a regular basis, as it's such a charge. But oh well.
Lastly, a word to our clergy-readers: I don't know how you lot deal with some of these Bridezillas out there, who treat their Big Day as if it's nothing less than the zero hour of salvation history. Fortunately, my cousin's intended next week isn't one of the sort but, suffice it to say, I've seen some real craziness in my time, so much so it makes neo-Tridentines look relatively sedate.
Again, I don't know how you guys do it, but God love you for your patience and fortitude.