Greek wedding are seeped heavily in tradition, rituals and custom. The traditions have filtered down through generations and generations, change through region, and are different depending on sex. Greeks of the diaspora have clung on to many of the traditions making sure that in Australia, America, Brazil or Germany we don’t lose our way.
BEFORE THE WEDDING
Proikia (dowry): The Wednesday before the wedding, relatives and friends of the bride gather at her house to get her proika ready for her marriage. Proika is generally made up of linen, towels and the like that the bride’s mother has been collecting over the years for her daughters marriage, so you can imagine some retro gems you will uncover. All proika is generally housed in a large wooden box.
Krevati: Female guests and close relatives of the bride and groom gather at the marital bed two nights before the wedding. Two single women are chosen and the ritual begins of making the marital bed. It is said that the first female to get a pillowcase on will get married first. After the bed is made, money is thrown on the bed to make the marriage prosperous. Then a baby boy is thrown – ever so gently – on the bed in hope that their union will be fertile and fruitful and their first born will be a son.
A sweet gambro: Prominent on the islands, this tradition see the mother of the bride making a sweet dish for her son-in-law before the wedding to ensure her daughter has a ‘sweet’ gambro (husband).
MORNING OF THE WEDDING
Both houses are a bursting hub of ceremony and there is more food at the houses of both bride and groom before a wedding then at the reception. Both houses are generally filled with close relatives and with Greek music, festivity and happiness.
Groom’s house: Most of the activities that take place at the groom’s house involve his mother. Shaving the groom is done by the koumbaro as a way of freshening up the groom before he steps out of the house.
Bride’s house: Apart from the singing and dancing going on at the bride’s house, there is also a lot of upkeep for herself and her three bridesmaids and their secret women’s business is not only seeped in tradition but superstition. Now is the time to write down the names of three eligible men on the shoes of the single bridesmaids and as she dances the night away, the name left will be the name of the man she is to marry. The bride will tuck a lump of sugar into her wedding glove to ensure she enjoys a sweet married life. This is the time to offer the bride any good luck charms for her to wear on the day around her wrist. As the bride is walking out of her parental home for the last time, she should look back to the house to ensure her children look like her side of the family.
The church service and ceremony is made-up of religious rituals and is full of symbolism to reflect a successful marriage. The best man holds the wedding rings over the heads of the bride and groom and blesses them three times and then the rings are exchanged. The stephana (marital crowns) that the bride and groom wear are switched back three to four times. Then the couple walk around the altar three times to seal their union. The stephana hold an important part in the couples life. They are normally placed on display in the marital home. The white ribbon that attaches both stefana represents the lifetime union.
AFTER THE WEDDING
The wedding reception is the time to let loose and enjoy the best things about Greek hospitality – food and drink. But there are still a few traditions to go. In some regions, it is customary to pin or tape money to the clothing of the bride and groom during the first dance. Breaking plates is also customary for good luck. Sugared almonds, in the form boubounierie, are given out after the wedding reception. One last superstition for the single women is to take a sugared almond, put it under her pillow and the man she dreams of she is destined to marry.