It's wedding year here in Malito. Bel fidanzato and I have been to so many already, and with one down last night, we have only (at this stage) 2 more to go until wedding season finishes. We all know that it is expensive to host a wedding, but here in Italy it is also expensive to attend a wedding.
Most couples let it be known if they want buste - envelopes (filled with money) or if they prefer gifts. Some people have gift registries like other countries, but I have never seen one for any of the weddings I have attended. The norm is to take a little, gift sized envelope with you and put some cash inside. Now, the amount of cash depends on the wealth of the givers and also their relationship with the married couple. The aim of the cash filled envelopes is that you are paying for your being at the wedding. You are paying for your meal technically, so the bride and groom don't get lumped with a massive bill at the end of the night. Normally you put a little extra in so they also end the night with some money left over for them and their new life together.
Weddings here range from 65euro per head and up, up, up....and up some more. As a guide a guest will put a minimum of 100 euro per head into the envelope. So you can see what I mean with weddings being an expensive affair for the guests! The Italian weddings I have attended normally all follow the same protocol (I will go into detail in another post.)
At the end of the rather massive meal you all go outside, normally by the swimming pool if there is one at the venue. There is always a lavish buffet of dessert set up and the big wedding cake. In Australia we cut the wedding cake half way through the meal, but in Italy they wait right till the end.