All about Greek weddings
If you are planning to travel to Greece to tie the knot, you may be interested in knowing more about the traditional Greek weddings. There are many traditions and customs related to the ceremony as well as other things that take place before the wedding. Here after we present you the most important traditions and customs of Greek weddings.
How things happen in Greek weddings: before the wedding
When a Greek couple gets engaged, they exchange rings with one another in front of family and friends, after which a celebration is held.
One week before the wedding takes place, a flamboro is hung at the bride’s home until the day of the wedding.
This “wedding flag” is a branch that ends in five twigs. An apple is tied to one twig while the other four twigs are covered with tufts of red wool. While the couple is getting dressed for the wedding, the guests may be outside dancing to traditional songs and waiting for the wedding procession.
How things happen in Greek weddings: during the wedding procession
The procession starts at the groom’s house where the wedding flag is raised.
One person is selected to be the flag bearer and the procession moves towards the bride’s home. Once the procession arrives at the bride’s house, the bride’s mother comes out to meet the groom with a glass of wine, a boutonniere of herbs which she places on his lapel and a ring shaped biscuit. The groom is then to kiss the hand of bride’s mother and ask her for her blessing. The bride’s mother gives her blessing and shows approval by kissing the groom on each cheek. At this point, the bride’s mother may give him embatikion or touch his neck with incense. The embatikion is a gift to symbolize that his is now a part of the family.
When the bride emerges from the house, the groom presents her with her wedding bouquet, or he may give it to her at the site of the ceremony. At the site where the ceremony is to take place, two loaves of bread are baked, decorated with flowers and then tied with a white ribbon. A bottle of wine separates the bread loaves from one another. When the couple arrives at the ceremony, they cut the ribbon, take three sips of the wine and walk around the altar three times. Guests throw rice at the couple or sugared almonds.
The traditional Greek wedding is an Orthodox wedding
The traditional Greek wedding always takes place on a Sunday. Orthodox weddings do not take place after Easter, after Christmas, on the day preceding a holy day or during fasting periods. Unlike traditional, modern day weddings that most of us are accustomed to, vows are not exchanged between the couple, because the ceremony is symbolic of a union of two people in love, and not a contract. The traditional Greek wedding ceremony itself is divided into two parts, the Betrothal and the Crowning.
During the Betrothal,
the rings are held over the heads of the bride and the groom and are blessed.
After the rings are blessed, they are exchanged three times by the best man.
During the Crowning,
the couple wears crowns which can be made out of garlands wreaths, semi-precious stones or vines wrapped in gold or silver paper.
The crowns are then joined with a white ribbon to symbolize unity. When the ceremony has been completed, the crowns are placed into a special box that is to remain with the couple throughout their lifetime. Some couples are buried with their crowns when they die.
How things happen in Greek weddings: at the end of the ceremony
At the conclusion of the ceremony, the entire procession and guests go to the groom’s home where the wedding flag is raised once again. The bride may throw an old piece of iron onto the roof of their now matrimonial home to symbolize its strength. At the reception, it is tradition to smash plates on the floor. Once a member of the immediate family starts, the other guests are then allowed to follow. A money dance is also traditional – where guests dance with the groom or the bride and pin money to their clothes. Some older family members of the couple may conduct a baby-rolling ceremony on the bed the couple will share after marriage. In this tradition, babies of the couple’s family and friends are placed on the bed and rolled from side to side in a gentle motion. They may also cover the bed with coins, rose petals and koufeta, which are sugar coated almonds. This is to bring luck, prosperity and fertility to the couple in their new life together.