There’s nothing like the cultural and religious symbolism that’s woven into the tapestry of weddings celebrated throughout the world.  And when it comes to Greek weddings, well, there are even movies made about them!  So let’s not focus on the spanakopita or saganaki, but rather on some of the gorgeous Greek wedding traditions we love…

The wedding date!

According to Greek Orthodox tradition, there are dates during the year that are considered good luck and others that should be avoided at all costs.

Dates that should be avoided at all costs include:

  • The first two weeks of August. These are devoted to the Virgin Mary
  • Lent, the 40 days before Easter.
  • August 29, which marks the death of Saint John the Baptist.
  • September 14, which is the celebration of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.
  • Anytime in the 40 days leading up to Christmas.

January and June are considered good months for marriage. In ancient times January was the month dedicated to the wife of Zeus and the goddess of marriage and fertility – Hera. June became a special month after the Romans translated Hera to Juno and dedicated the sixth month of the year to her.

Greece Destination Wedding Save the Date

The marital bed

Friends and family members come into the soon-to-be-wed couple’s home to prepare their bed! Some families still go through the ritual of making up the marital bed, while others think this could be considered an outdated tradition.

Prosperity and putting down roots are symbolized by throwing money and rice into the bed, and then a baby is rolled on the bed to bless it with fertility.

The superstitious believe the newlywed’s first baby will be a girl or boy, depending upon which they place on the bed!

Dressing the couple

The koumbaro or best man will shave the groom on the morning of the ceremony to signify trust. Then the close friends step in to help to dress him.

The koumbara or maid of honor leads the bridal party to the bride to help her get dressed and ready for the ceremony.

The names of all of the single ladies are written on the bottom of the bride’s shoes and tradition has it that the names that are worn off by the end of the reception will soon get married.

The koumbaro and koumbara will go on to become the godparents of the couple’s children.

Symbols of good luck

Placing a lump of sugar inside the bride’s glove is said to ensure a sweet life and adding a gold coin to the inside of her shoe will bring good financial fortune.

Iron is said to ward off evil spirits throughout the day. So the groom should put a piece in his pocket!

Couples invite an odd number of guests and invite an odd number of attendants to stand beside them as odd numbers are considered good luck.  Odd numbers cannot be divided!

The number three representing the holy trinity – the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is especially symbolic.

A tradition dating back to ancient times is to spit after offering congratulations or compliments to the couple. Today guests mimic ‘the act’ of spitting – blowing a puff of breath through pursed lips. Due to the rule of threes, ‘spitting’ three times brings greater luck.

Heart Sugar

During the ceremony: Blessing the rings

Continuing the tradition of three, at the start of the ceremony, the couple place the rings on the tips of their wedding fingers and the koumbaro will exchange them three times. The priest will then bless them three times.

Greek wedding traditional ring exchange

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Candles and the common cup

The couple holds candles throughout the ceremony to represent the light of Christ. The couple also shares what is known as a common cup, and take three sips of wine each from the cup representing a successful union.

The readings

There are two traditional readings that feature in Greek Orthodox weddings. The Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians, which highlights the joining of two people is the first and the Gospel According to St. John is the second. This is where the miracle of turning water into wine was recounted and the reading ties in with the couple sipping from the common cup.

Maggie and Richie's winter wedding.

Wedding Crowns

One of the most recognizable traditions of a Greek wedding is the marital crowns or Stefana. These are two beautiful pieces made from flowers, foliage or even precious metals, and joined together by a strand of ribbon.

They symbolize the union of two people into a single couple. The crows are swapped back and forth by the koumbaro three times and the couple wear them as they walk around the altar three times to represent their journey through life together.

The priest will bless the couple before removing the crowns, and no vows are exchanged by the couple.

Elena and David's Greek wedding in Sydney.

Dance, dance, dance!

We all love dancing at wedding receptions. Traditional Greek wedding dances, from the Tsamiko to the Zeibekiko and the Sirtaki, are where the guests hold hands and dance in a circle.

The newlyweds traditionally share the last dance of the night and guests can throw money at them, or pin money to their clothes.

couple dancing at their wedding

Smashing plates

True for a time in history, it is no longer the case.

greek wedding location in santorini, greece

Bonbonniere

Odd numbers of Koufeta (sugar-coated almonds) beautifully packaged are given to guests right after the wedding ceremony. They symbolize purity, fertility and the endurance of marriage.

Classic sugared almonds for marriage