Campania is, historically, the Italian region where the largest number of weddings are celebrated. And despite the sharp decline of investment for weddings since the start of the economic crisis in 2008, Campania remains a place where people get married with pomp and circumstance, spending more money than anywhere else in Italy.

In fact, a white dress and a buffet are only the beginning: the Campania wedding has morphed into a showcase, costing on average some 30,000 euro. The proceedings are animated by comedians, showgirls, vocalists, and musicians. The parties even include VIP guests, famous on the basis of just a few appearances on national or local TV screens.

All of this is carefully recorded by an army of cameramen, documenting the entire path that led the spouses to the altar. These film crews use professional movie-making equipment, including dollies, steady-cams and camera carts. The process starts with the couple’s first meeting, which is re-staged under fictional circumstances and often set in exotic locations for a prenuptial video called the “preview”. This serves as the opening to the wedding meta-event and often dictates the timing and form of the “real” event.

The event then transforms into a sort of reality show in which newlyweds and their friends adopt manners and language borrowed from the TV lexicon. The wedding becomes an imaginary environment infused with Camorra and television influences. Each participant’s dominating thought is to live the high life as protagonists of a reality TV fantasy.

Behind this show work some 120 “wedding planner” agencies, about 30 “entertainment for weddings” agencies, over 216 specialized photographic studios, and 122 wedding bands. The most elite services offer specialized locations, used solely for the production of particularly spectacular weddings. For example, “La Sonrisa” is a 40,000 square foot Versailles-like palace built in the 1980s, recently immortalized in a movie titled “Reality” and by an actual cable television reality show, “The Wedding Boss”. Beside the setting, the production might also include the arrival of the couple in antique carriages or helicopters, a show of Brazilian dancers, customized fireworks, and “acrobatic” bar tenders.

—Irene Alison