Greek Wedding Traditions
Post Category: Weddings
As one of Sydney's leading marriage celebrants, I custom create each ceremony to include those aspects that are important to you. Below I have listed some Greek wedding traditions which we can include all aspects or a few of your family backgrounds and traditions.
When Greek couples get engaged, they typically exchange engagement rings in the presence of their family. A party follows! Each partner gets a plain gold band to wear on the left hand to signal the engagement. (A big diamond solitaire for the woman only is not the Greek custom.)
These are the same rings that the couple will wear as their wedding rings. The bands are blessed during the wedding ceremony, and then the couple switches them to the right hand.
Preparing The Groom
On the day of the ceremony, the groom’s friends will gather to help him get ready. His best man – called the “koumbaro” – will shave the groom. This shows the trust between them. The koumbaro will also stand by the groom during the ceremony, and has other obligations like procuring the wedding crowns.
All the other friends present help to dress the groom. One might button the shirt. Another might put the jacket on him. That way they all have a symbolic role in getting him ready.
Preparing The Bride
The bride is similarly prepared by her koumbara – or maid of honor – and dressed by her friends. On the bottom of the bride’s shoes are written the names of all her unmarried friends. The names that get worn away by the end of the night are the names of the women who will be married soon themselves.
The bride, once she is dressed, traditionally leaves with her father. She is told by her mother to look back at her parents’ house one last time to ensure that the children take after that side of the family.
The bride can place a lump of sugar – for a sweet life – inside her glove. Or she can walk down the aisle with a gold coin in her shoe to bring prosperity. The groom can put a piece of iron in his pocket to ward off evil spirits.
Also, odd numbers are considered luckier than even numbers. The bride and groom should have an odd number of attendants. You spit an odd number of times. An odd number cannot be divided – which is what we hope too for the couple
The ceremony will traditionally follow the ceremonies and rituals of the Greek Orthodox Church. Specific elements include the crowns, the candles, and the common cup. The ceremony has many steps and can easily last an hour – if not longer!
The groom waits for the bride at the front of the church. He holds her bouquet, waiting for her. She is walked down the aisle by her father, presented to the groom, and handed the bouquet.
Two gold crowns are made and connected by a single strand of ribbon. This symbolizes the union of the two people into a single married couple. The crown also signifies that they shall rule over their household together. The crowns are called “stefana” in Greek. During the ceremony, the crowns are swapped back and forth three times by the koumbaro.
The bride and groom also hold candles during the ceremony. These symbolise the light that Christ symbolises The candles can be left in the church to burn, or brought back home to be used, but should never be thrown out. They should be burned down completely.
The priest will pour wine into the “common cup” – that is, one single wine glass – and the bride and groom each take three sips from it. The wine symbolizes life, and the sharing of sips of it is symbolic of how the couple will share in life together.
There are also other practices that are unique to the Greek Orthodox ceremony. The koumbaro will also exchange the wedding rings three times between the couple before they are blessed and placed on the couple’s right hands. The couple will hold their right hands together during the ceremony to highlight their new life together as one unit. Then lastly, as they wear the crowns, the couple walks around the table that holds the cup, the Bible, and the candles. They are lead by the priest in this first walk together as husband and wife. This walk is a symbol of their commitment to stay with each other throughout life’s journey. The priest blesses the couple and removes the crowns. No vows are uttered by the couple – their union is cemented by the blessings of the priest and the witnessing of the congregation