Greek Wedding Survival for Non-Greeks

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Are you getting married to a Greek? If you are, and you aren’t an Orthodox Christian, you may find that the traditions and protocols are somewhat different than what you are used to. Here’s an overview of what to expect. This will help you understand not only what to do while planning the wedding, but also during the ceremony itself.

Deciding to Convert

As soon as you make plans to get married, the first thing you will need to do is meet with the Greek Orthodox priest who will perform the ceremony. He’ll advise you on what your next steps will be. If you aren’t an Orthodox Christian, he’ll also assess what you need to do in order to get married in the church.

One of the things you’ll need to decide is if you want to convert to Orthodox Christianity. However, this may not be a necessary step for you to be able to get married. Your priest will advise you on what you need to do.

Official Wedding Sponsor

The Greek Orthodox Church requires that there be an official wedding sponsor, called the Koumbaros, for a male, or Koumbara, for a female. Typically, the bride and groom consult with their priest and then make their choice together. Whoever is chosen needs to be an Orthodox Christian in “good standing.”

He or she is not only the sponsor, but will also be part of the Blessing of the Rings and The Crowning, which are two distinct parts of the ceremony that require an Orthodox Christian.

Understanding the Ceremony

The Orthodox Christian marriage ceremony is fairly different from other weddings you may have been to. It helps to be familiar with the ceremony so that you can know what to expect on your big day. There are two basic parts of the ceremony – the Betrothal and the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.

In the Betrothal portion, the priest blesses the bride and the groom. The Blessing of the Rings takes place during the betrothal. At the beginning of the Sacrament portion of the ceremony, The Crowning occurs. You’ll also drink out of the Common Cup and walk around the table three times as a symbol of the journey you will take together as a couple. For more information about the ceremony, please consult with your priest.

Planning the Reception

Like most weddings you’ve been to, there will be a reception after the ceremony. There are some traditions that may occur during it. Here’s a summary of some of the most common:

  • Koufeta. These white, candy coated almonds are usually packaged in a pretty, mesh bag and given to guests as a favor.
  • Greek dancing. Even if you don’t have traditional Greek dancing at the wedding, it’s still a nice touch if the bridal party danced to the traditional song, Orea Pou Ine I Nifi Mas, or How Beautiful Is Our Bride.
  • Pinning money. There is a wedding tradition where guests pin money on the bride during the wedding reception. For guests, this is optional, but the money is designed to help the couple start their new life together.

By keeping these things in mind while planning your own wedding, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect!

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This post was written by Greek Boston