Greece is an ancient land, with many longstanding and fascinating customs. At no time is this more true than at a Greek wedding. Whether you are hoping to incorporate your Greek heritage into your wedding, or are simply looking for inspiration for some meaningful and beautiful wedding traditions, you will find that there are many wonderful customs integrated into Greek weddings.
Many of the prevalent wedding customs in Greece are used within the Orthodox Church marriage ceremonies, although the origins of some of them date back to antiquity. Whether you are planning to be married in Greece or Stateside, these customs have very nice symbolism, and would be quite easy to work into your own wedding ceremony. If the majority of your wedding guests will be unfamiliar with them, it might be a good idea to include some brief explanations of the Greek customs in your wedding programs.
There is one Greek wedding tradition, in particular, that would be beautiful to include in any wedding ceremony, and that is the stefana, or wedding crowns. This is an ancient Greek custom, and no Greek wedding would be complete without it. The bride and groom wear a pair of crowns that is bound together by ribbons. The crowns symbolize the nobility of marriage and the fact that the newlyweds will be forever bound together in their new family. In an Orthodox service, the priest will say a prayer over the stefana and the newlyweds, wishing them all of God’s blessings in their new life together, as well as hoping for the family to be ruled wisely.
The marriage crowns are extremely important to a Greek couple, and will be saved after the wedding, and often placed on display in their new home. Some people are even buried in their stefana, they are that important. The ribbon that binds the two crowns is to be kept intact for a lifetime, as it represents the lasting union between the bride and groom. Traditionally, the crowns were made of materials ranging from lemon leaves to vines to gold and jewels. Because they are considered a lasting keepsake, brides today will often have custom bridal jewelry created to match the look of their crowns, or vice versa. The bridal jewelry and the stefana can both be handcrafted of the same fine materials, such as pearls, sterling silver, and Swarovksi crystals.
There is many other wonderful Greek wedding customs. One of these concerns the role of the best man, called the koumbaros. This honored position is often filled by the groom’s godfather, although any other close male friend or relative can have the role. The koumbaros has very special duties on the day of the wedding, including leading the bride and groom to the church, and helping them with their stefana.
Other Greek wedding customs pertain to the guests. It is customary for the guests at a wedding to wear good luck charms in the form of an eye to help ward off evil spirits. You could have a basket of these available at the door of the church for your guests to put on as they enter. Another beloved wedding custom in Greece is the breaking of plates at the reception for good luck, amongst much cheering and revelry.
The traditions of a Greek wedding are wonderful to include in a wedding today. You certainly do not have to be Greek to appreciate their beauty. If you are looking for ways to add more meaning to your wedding, than including the customs of Greece are a great way to do it.