Overview of Greek Marriage Customs

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462555665In Greece, traditional customs get passed down from generation to generation and marriages are no exception. No matter how modernized Greece becomes, most of these traditions are still upheld. Not only that, but families have taken their customs to the United States where they expect they will still be adhered to. Here is an overview of some of these Greek marriage customs.

Asking the Parents
Asking the parents, particularly the father, for permission (if you are a man asking a woman to marry him) is a traditional practice that spans several cultures. It is also standard practice amongst traditional Greek families in the United States. If your daughter is looking to marry a non-Greek, this could pose some difficulties. However, most will still do it if that’s what’s required of them. Once the father gives permission, they are now officially engaged.

Marriage Dowry
Even though we look at a “dowry” as an old fashioned concept here in the United States, in many parts of Greece it still exists. In Greece, the parents, friends, and relatives typically pitch in to give the young couple things such as linens for the home, furniture, or even an entirely furnished home for their dowries. Remember in My Big Fat Greek Wedding when Toula’s parents bought the new couple a house? Chances are, this was in keeping with the dowry tradition.

The Bridal Shoes
There are two traditions that are associated with the shoes the bride will be wearing on her wedding day. Firstly, the groom is responsible for giving the shoes to the bride as a gift. He either delivers them the day of the wedding (and even puts them on for her) or has someone else deliver them. Then, the bride has all the single members of her bridal party write their names on the bottom of the shoes.

Getting Ready
Traditionally, the bride and groom are separated on the wedding day. They spend the time getting ready with their family and friends who will help them get ready. There’s usually music, food, and celebration during these preparations. Then, the couple is reunited at the church at the wedding ceremony.

Marriage Ceremony
Traditionally, the wedding ceremony takes place in the Greek Orthodox Church. The ceremony is beautiful and filled with symbolism. Prior to the wedding day (depending on where you live) the Church may require that you take a marriage class. Check with your priest well in advance so you can be prepared.

Wedding Reception
Finally, after the ceremony, friends and family meet for a grand reception. Depending on where you live and what your finances are like, this could take place in your village, in the open air, or in a function hall. Either way, the bride and groom traditionally invite everyone they know – and then some. It’s not uncommon to invite the entire village.

As you can see, many of these traditions still happen in the United States. Some, like the bridal shoes tradition, are fun and lighthearted. Others, such as the traditional Orthodox Christian ceremony in the church, are more serious. Either way, a marriage is the beginning of your life together and adhering to the Greek customs sets it on a positive path.

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This post was written by Greek Boston

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