A traditional or Orthodox Greek wedding is known for its fun, deep sense of religious dignity and its sizeable guest list. There are many aspects of a Greek wedding day that set it apart from the Christian or civil ceremonies.
There are several dates that are forbidden as wedding dates for a Greek couple. Some of these include the fasting period before Easter and Christmas. Any day of the week is considered acceptable as a wedding day, except during Sunday Mass. It is also considered unlucky to get married on a leap year. Strict Greeks take these superstitions and religious requirements very seriously and adhere closely to them.
A Greek Orthodox wedding has to take place within the Greek Church. Remember to ensure that your priest is available at the times that the church is, and that there is sufficient parking and ventilation, as with any ceremony venue. The ceremony procedure is fairly concrete and structured; specific hymns are sung and certain religious verses are read. This lends the ceremony a strong sense of religious and traditional value.
If you are attending a Greek wedding it may be wise to check with the bride or groom whether you may attend the ceremony taking place in the church. While anybody is welcome to share in the celebration of the marriage, some prefer that only Orthodox Greeks enter into the actual church. Whether you attend the ceremony too or only the reception, you should be dressed formally and tastefully.
During the ceremony, the bride and groom’s respective families will sit on opposite sides of the church’s aisle. The rest of the ceremony is fairly traditional in terms of walking down the aisle, wedding attire, and so on.
The ceremony presents some unique practices that outsiders generally find fascinating. First, it begins with a betrothal ceremony where the couple is blessed by the priest, after which he places rings on the right-hand fingers of the bride and groom. They are given a glass of wine and a crown during the ceremony, and are later required to kiss the Bible. After this, they walk around the altar or table three times.
The reception is characterised by singing and dancing. This is far less structured and rigid than the songs and verses of the ceremony. Guests are encouraged to participate and there is a general air of celebratory fun. Many of the dances actually require the guests to play an integral role as they lift the bride and groom above their heads on chairs or pin money to their clothes. Food is plentiful and traditional, and guests are sure to enjoy the array of meat- and vegetable dishes that are set before them.
A Greek wedding is rather special in its own way. In modern times, we do not often get the opportunity to apply strict tradition to many of our interactions and events. A wedding is the ideal opportunity to celebrate, and it is made all the more special by adhering to the norms and requirements of such a strong cultural influence.
For a fun take on Greek Weddings, make sure to watch the popular My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
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