Greek couple becomes engaged by exchanging rings in the presence
of family and friends. After the engagement there is always a feast.
This ceremony is considered as binding as the wedding.
An old-fashioned tradition is the baby-rolling ceremony on the matrimonial
bed. Babies of friends and family are placed on the mattress and
gently rolled from side to side. The bed is also strewn with rose
petals, coins and sugar-coated almonds (called koufetta) to bring
fertility and prosperity to the couple.
The making of the wedding flag or flamboro marks the beginning
of the wedding week. A branch ending with five twigs is found
first. Then an apple is tied to one branch and tufts of red wool
are other four twigs. This is put up at the bride’s home
until the wedding day.
As the couple dress for the ceremony, they may be serenaded with
traditional songs. There is also dancing until it’s time
for the wedding procession to begin.
The wedding procession is begun at the groom’s house where
the wedding flag is raised. Then the flag bearer leads the group
proceeds to the bride’s home where the bride’s mother
greets the groom. She greets him with a glass of wine, a ring-shaped
biscuit and a boutonniere of herbs for his label. He pins the
herbs to his lapel, kisses her hand and asks for her blessing.
She gives her blessing by kissing him on both cheeks. She may
also touch his neck with incense and give him embatikion, a gift
to symbolize that his is now a part of the family.
The groom may present his bride with her bouquet at the wedding
Greek Orthodox weddings are always on Sunday. They aren’t
performed after Easter and Christmas, during periods of fasting
and the day preceding a Holy Day. Vows aren’t exchanged
because marriage is considered a union between two people in love,
not a contractual agreement.
Two loaves of bread are bakes, decorated with flowers and tied
together with a white ribbon, separated by a bottle of wine. When
the couple enters the ceremony site, the ribbon is cut. They take
three sips of wine and circle the altar three times while the
guests throw rice or sugared almonds.
The ceremony in Greek Orthodox weddings in divided into two parts:
the Betrothal and the Crowning. The Betrothal Service consists
of blessing the rings over the heads of the bride and groom. Then
they are exchanged three times by their Koumbaros or best man.
The Crowning is the main part of the ceremony where the couple
is crowned by garland wreaths, vines wrapped in silver or gold
paper or even crowns made of semi-precious stones and metals.
A white ribbon symbolizing unity joins the crowns. The crowns
are packed in a special box after the ceremony. By ancient custom
they are to stay with the couple for life – some couples
are even buried in them.
Charms (traditionally in the form of a small eye) are worn by
the attendants to protect the bridal party from bad luck. The
bride may also put a lump of sugar in her glove for a sweet marriage.
Ivy may be carried by the bride as a symbol of never-ending love.
Wedding bands are traditionally worn on the right hand, not the
The bride may throw a pomegranate instead of the bouquet. The
many seeds symbolize fertility because of all the seeds.
After the ceremony, the group heads to the groom’s house
where the flag is once again raised. The bride throws a piece
of old iron to the roof to symbolize the strength of her new home.
At the reception, plates are broken on the dance floor (or some
other hard surface) for good luck. A member of the immediate family
begins and others quickly join in with much yelling and laughing
as the plates shatter.
There is a
traditional money dance at the reception where people dance with
either the bride or groom, pinning money to their clothes.