Greek Wedding Customs and Traditions
Confession: I am dying to attend a Greek wedding. The traditional Greek Orthodox wedding ceremony is rich with ceremony and meaningful rituals. The marriage ceremony is then followed by a fantastic party, full of eating, drinking, dancing, and merriment. Doesn’t that sound like the perfect wedding? In case you are ever lucky enough to attend a Greek wedding, you will want to learn all about Greek wedding customs.
Since most Greek families place a high value on tradition, the smart man still goes to ask the bride’s father for permission to ask for her hand in marriage before proposing to her. In traditional Greek custom, when a couple becomes engaged, they exchange simple gold bands, which will later be used for their wedding rings. The diamond engagement ring is not customary in Greek tradition, however, many Greek-American brides are more than happy to adopt the American bridal jewelry custom and wear a fabulous diamond!
Soon after the couple becomes betrothed, it will be time to select the Koumbaros, who is like a best man with a lot of extra responsibilities. The Koumbaros does a lot more than plan a bachelor party; his ceremonial duties include taking on spiritual and financial responsibilities. He is expected to pay the priest, buy the Stefana (marriage crowns), and the Koufeta (sugared almond wedding favors), among other things. The Koumbaros will also usually be invited to be the godfather to the couple’s first born child. Since it is a much bigger job than the standard American best man, the Koumbaros is usually a close relative, rather than just a friend.
Greek Orthodox marriage ceremonies are lengthy, with many special rituals. One of the most beautiful parts of a Greek Orthodox wedding ceremony is the crowning. The bride and groom both wear Stefana, which are the ceremonial marriage crowns. They are blessed by the Priest and then tied together with a ribbon to symbolize the joining together of the bride and groom. The Stefana could be family heirlooms, fresh flowers wreaths, or something else purchased by the Koumbaros. The bride might wish to choose a set of bridal jewelry that complements her Stefana.
Following the marriage ceremony, the friends and family of the newlyweds gather for a huge celebration. There will be an abundance of food, plenty of sweets, and of course ouzo for toasting. Expect to spend much of the night dancing at a Greek wedding reception! The highlight of the party is the traditional circle dance called the Kalamatianos. Everyone is expected to join in the joyful dance, with the newlyweds in the center of the circle. One other thing that you will find at a Greek wedding is many cheers of Opa! It is an exuberant expression of joy, and it definitely captures the festive nature of a Greek wedding celebration.
Bridget Mora has worked with brides for years, and has long wanted to attend a Greek Orthodox wedding to see the majesty firsthand. Silverland Jewelry is the place to visit for the custom bridal jewelry you need to match your gown and other accessories.