Have you seen the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding? Did you notice the greek wedding traditions in the movie? Last week I was in one of my familys wedding events in Epirus. An orthodox church wedding is an old and beautiful ceremony and has been celebrated in its present form for centuries.
Certainly the ceremony is unique as the bride and groom do not make any promises in the church. Since the presence in the church means that they have given each other the promise to enter into marriage. During the ceremony, many acts are repeated three times to symbolize the Trinity: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The two candles at the altar represent the bride and groom’s promises to respect each other in their new life together.
Outside the church
Meanwhile the guests wait outside the church until the bride arrives, the groom waits with her flower bouquet at the entrance. The most common thing is that the bride and the groom walk in together, followed by all the guests. Furthermore you can sit wherever you like, as there are no grooms or brides sides in the orthodox wedding.
At the beginning of the act, the priest blesses the bridal couple’s rings and places them on the right ring finger. The maid of honor (Koumbara) makes the ring change three times and the act symbolizes the promises that the bridal couple give each other. After the readings the priest brings together the bride and groom’s right hands that remain united throughout the act. The wedding crowns (stefana) which are joined by bands symbolize the couple’s love. They are blessed and placed on the bridal couple’s heads, whereupon Koumbara or the Bestman (Koumbaros) change place on the crowns three times. One piece of the readings says that the woman should obey the man, then the bride fits the groom on the foot to mark that the custom is outdated.
The bride and groom are offered three sips of wine from the same cup as a symbol for sharing on the burdens of life together and sharing on everything in life, both in joy and in sorrow. Isaiah’s dance is the first steps the couple take as real spouses when the priest leads them around the table. Koumbara alternatively Koumbaros hold in the crowns and according to Greek custom one throws rice over the bridal couple. By throwing rice you express your hope that the bride and groom together will become strong and form a family.
After the ceremony
After the wedding ceremony, the couple turns to the guests and the closest family members congratulate them followed by the guests. In the Greek wedding tration all the guests receive a gift of traditional sugar-coated almonds in a bomboniere. The number of koufeta is uneven and indivisible. As usually five or seven, as well as the groom and the bride are now inseparable. The sweets or koufeta represent health, wealth, happiness and a long life.
With this post I wish the bride and the groom, Artemis and Vasilis a lifetime of love and happiness! Thank you for letting me photograph your most important day of your new life together.
Did you like this post? Feel free to comment or ask me questions. More Greek wedding inspiration can be found here.