An Italian wedding is quite a different thing from a British wedding, and traditions also vary between northern and southern Italy. But wherever you are in Italy, a wedding is an excuse for an enormous feast.
My Italian friend Valeria is getting married. So is my school friend, Fiona.
Both are having civil ceremonies: Valeria at the Rocca Sforzesca, a Renaissance castle once used as a prison and Fiona at St. Albans Register Office, the gatehouse of a Victorian prison.
Marriage-prison jokes aside, I am thoroughly looking forward to both events.
Last Friday I had dinner with Valeria and two other girlfriends - Paola, from Bologna, and Sicilian, Mariangela.
The wedding was, inevitably, the main topic, particularly plans for the hen night, in Italian fabulously called an addio al nubilato - a farewell to nubility.
The conversation was bursting with pre-nuptial excitement until Valeria happened to mention that some guests were only invited to the ceremony, not to the dinner. Mariangela was horrified.
"You can't invite people and not give them a meal in return."
"Why not?" retorted Valeria. "Sending an invitation's a courtesy to tell people you're getting married, but I don't want my boss at my reception!"
Mariangela was not convinced.
"In Sicily, receiving an invitation means you're obliged to buy a gift, and that means you expect a free meal."
I diffused the tension by showing them the poem I will be reading at Fiona's wedding - a gentle marital comedy in rhyme by Pam Ayres. They were amused by the verse and astonished by the idea of readings during the ceremony, particularly comic ones.