Orthodox Greek Wedding Traditions and Church Wedding Ceremonies
Greece is a fascinating part of world as far as Greek wedding traditions go. If you are a Greek and plan to have a traditional Greek wedding, you will find many of the Greek wedding customs and traditions very symbolic and fascinating. You will also find that much of the Greek wedding customs have been integrated into the church wedding ceremonies of the Orthodox Church.
The Proposal and the engagement in the Greek Wedding Traditions
Greek men and women choose their marriage partners. However, the groom must visit the home of the bride and formally request for her hand in marriage from her parents.
Modern day Greek men and women prefer to wear western wedding dresses. The women wear the white wedding gown and the man a tuxedo. A few Greek couples may decide to get married in the traditional attire.
Normally, the groom waits for the bride outside the church with his friends and family. Once the bride arrives the Koumbaros or the groom’s godfather or male elder of the family will lead the bride and groom into the church and help them don the stefana.
You will be interested to know that in Greek wedding traditions the Stefana is actually a pair of crowns that are linked together with ribbons. The symbolic significance is that marriage is noble and the newly weds are bound together forever in the nobility of the marriage. Orthodox families require the priest to pray over the crowns before it is donned by the bride and the groom.
Furthermore, Stefana are saved by the couple and displayed in their new home. A few people even request that they may be buried in their stefana. These crowns are made from lemon leaves to vines or gold and jewels. A few brides may even have custom jewelry created to match the crowns.
The engagement ceremonies in Greek wedding traditions are often held on the day of the wedding itself. It is known as the service of Betrothal. The couple exchanges the ring three times. The ceremony begins when the priest blesses the rings by holding them in the right hand and makes a sign of the cross over the bride’s and groom’s head and then he places the rings on the third finger of their left hands. The best man or the koumbaro swaps the ring three times between the bride’s and groom’s fingers.
The priest sings his blessings over the couple and then the koumbaros invites the bride and the groom to go round the altar three times followed by the koumbaros and the maids of honor. The bride finally wears the wedding ring on her left hand for the duration of the ceremony and then transfers it to the right hand after the ceremony.
All guests at a Greek wedding, you will find, wear a good luck charm to ward of evil spirits. Most often a basket of such charms are kept at the doorway of the church for guests to pick up on their way into the church for the wedding.
As the bride and groom leave the church, the priest will separate their hands with a bible symbolically to indicate that only God can part their union.
The wedding Reception
In Greek wedding tradtions, on completion of wedding all the guests break plates at the reception for good luck. You will also note that there is a lot of music and revelry among the guests at the wedding reception. All wedding guests are served with bonbonierres or almond candies with white chocolate wrapped in netting as they leave the reception. You will be interested to know that tradition demands that each package must contain an odd number of candles.
The nuptial Bed
An interesting symbolic ceremony as per the Greek wedding traditions that you will note is that a baby is rolled on the matrimonial bed. This is done to symbolically promote the fertility of the marriage. The bed is then strewn with rose petals, coins and sugar coated almonds for prosperity and fertility.
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