Italian Bridal Serenades Set the Tone in Philadelphia

A new trend is mixing with old traditions to create a lively and memorable pre-wedding celebration.

The following article, written by Kristen De Groot, appears on the Associated Press.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Young couples in south Philadelphia are transforming something old into something new with their take on the Italian wedding serenade.

The serenade has been a tradition for hundreds of years, particularly in southern Italian regions like Naples, Puglia and Calabria. There, it takes place the night before the wedding, where the groom and a guitarist — or a full accompaniment of accordion, mandolin player and violist if he’s splurging —appear on the street outside the bride-to-be’s home. They sing traditional love songs as she gazes down from her window. She eventually descends to embrace her rose-bearing husband-to-be as neighbors and family members look on.

The age-old tradition came along with immigrants to Philadelphia in the 1800s and retained its modest flavor until recent years. Now, serenades have taken on an air of a block party, with grooms singing to a choreographed routine with popular songs as guests enjoy a catered meal, full bar and DJ dance party.

“It’s kind of like a New Year’s Eve to your wedding,” said Paolo DiPaolo, who serenaded his bride-to-be Stephanie Longo in October at a south Philadelphia street party that mixed the traditional with the popular. “This is one of the main things you look forward to.”

The street outside his now-wife’s parents’ home was blocked off to traffic as guests ate pasta at tables with white linen cloths. The bride’s father made batches of homemade wine, and DJ Johnny Looch — south Philly’s serenade expert, John Luciano — spun songs with love and marriage themes like Frank Sinatra’s version of “Get Me to the Church on Time” and The Dixie Cups’ “Going to the Chapel.”

To warm up the crowd, the bride-to-be’s uncle from Calabria sang traditional songs as he strummed a guitar, while the older relatives crowded around him, some singing, others tearing up. Continue reading at the Associated Press. 

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