How to Have a Blast at Greek Marriage Ceremonies

A wedding is a joyous occasion that brings together two individuals under the heavy aura of tradition. Although every culture has its fascinating marriage rituals, no one truly does weddings like the Greeks. Attending a Greek Orthodox wedding is an unforgettable experience for outsiders and Orthodox members well disciplined in Eastern religious culture. As two people begin a new life together, your role as a guest is always to support the union, and have fun while doing it. Remember these tips for what to expect at a Greek Orthodox wedding.

Solemn Traditions During the Ceremony

If this is your first Orthodox event, you're in for quite a thrill at the wedding and afterward. Greek Orthodox church ceremonies are solemn, beautiful, and unique. They begin with the arrival of guests along with the bride and groom. Everyone proceeds into the church together, following the lead of the man and woman who are due to be wed.

Arrival at the altar marks the start of the rich Christian rites that have been handed down among Greek Orthodox practitioners for centuries. Like Western ceremonies, this marriage often includes close friends and family, including a best man who helps orchestrate the proceedings with the priest. One notable difference is in the seating arrangements. Family and friends from both sides are encouraged to sit with each other and mingle together, rather than being allotted two separate places.

Following deeply felt prayers and formal sacraments, the ceremony reaches its zenith with the crowning, also known as “the Stefana.” Bride and groom are symbolically made king and queen, often with two elegant crowns tied together with a white ribbon. Symbols of the holy trinity are deeply embedded in the Stefana and its essential crowns, much like the other ritualistic elements, where repeated devotions are made to religious trinity.

Experiencing the Reception

Once the bride and groom are officially bound in matrimony, the atmosphere of Greek Orthodox weddings shifts from devout to jubilant. This highly fluid change often surprises first time visitors who are attending a Greek Orthodox wedding. Just go with the flow. Seriously.

The dinner reception that follows is a time for loosening neck ties and breaking out drinks and dance moves. These are huge, lasting ceremonies that can run well into the next morning. Traditionally, dishes are broken for good luck.

Attendees soon find themselves deep in good Greek food and drink too. Appetizing delights such as tzatziki dip, cavier, horiatiki salad, and lamb accompany anise flavored wines. For a sweet touch, candied almonds named koufeta are served, and so are plentiful portions of crispy baklava pastries. Indulge yourself without fear, since the average Greek wedding is a feast.

Food and shattered plates aren't the only commodities in abundant supply at a Greek Orthodox Wedding. Money is frequently thrown at musicians, bartenders, and all around for good luck. The bride and groom are generously gifted with paper bills and checks.

Despite the growing exclusiveness of digital currency, paper money is still given at many weddings as a gift so that the bride can perform the famous Money Dance. Stacks of bills are pinned to the bride, and she is encouraged to promenade and dance with the groom while wearing them. At purist receptions, guests may even throw money onto the couple's bed to encourage good fortune and fertility, though this practice has fallen out of fashion in modern times.

Gift Ideas

Like any wedding, gifts are encouraged when attending a Greek Orthodox wedding. It's always a battle to balance taste, affordability, and select a present that will win genuine appreciation from the new couple. While money and traditional religious icons are ever popular, most brides and grooms seek practical and fun gifts as well.

With the newlyweds set to start a new household, you can easily imagine folks showering them with kitchen sets, furniture, and similar items. If you really want to stand out, consider picking up appliances that often get overlooked for a new home. Premium coffeemakers like the Cuisinart 12 Cup Programmable Coffeemaker are an excellent choice. Not just because Greeks and new couples are fond of their caffeine, but because they'll usually need it to recover from the once in a lifetime event that is a Greek Orthodox wedding.

The Famous Money Dance at a Greek Orthodox Wedding