Whether you love tradition, or prefer to honour your roots without going “all the way”, there’s no denying that including age-old traditions in your matrimonials can give your wedding structure and a deeper, richer meaning.
While some of us like to do things as they have been done for generations, others prefer to weave their own mix of the personal, the contemporary and the traditional. Whatever your approach and outlook, these five Greek ingredients will help you infuse your big day with some quintessential Hellenic culture.
1. Have a Koumbara and Koumbaro
If you think that “people” are the most important aspect of any wedding, asking your close friends to be your koumbara (female friend) and koumbaro (male friend) will ensure the special people in your life are celebrated as part of your big day. With lots of symbolic involvement in the ceremony itself (including passing the rings back and forth to symbolise everlasting love) and typically expected to be the godparents of the couple’s first child, celebrating with your koumbara and koumbaro will make your wedding even more magical.
2. Wear the stefana
These stunning wedding crowns are an especially beautiful aspect of Greek weddings. Worn by both the bride and the groom during the ceremony – and passed between both to represent eternal love – these lovely wedding accessories are infused with tradition which dates back even beyond Greek Orthodox Christianity, all the way back to ancient times when olive branches, lemon blossom and vine leaves were worn to symbolise love, fertility, serenity and to honour the goddess of love, Aphrodite. With a meaning lurking behind every flower, couples could even create their own stefanas, or choose a traditional religious option .
3. Get dancing
Dancing is essential at any half-decent wedding, but it’s an especially important aspect of Greek weddings where traditional dances like the circular kalamatiano, the acrobatic tsamiko and the alcohol-infused zebekiko are all traditional favourites. If you’re planning on dancing the zebekiko, make sure you’ve ordered plenty of ouzo to be consumed in shot glasses from the floor!
4. Serve koufeta
These tasty almonds have a delicious sugary coating and play a small but very traditional (not to mention yummy roll) in Greek weddings. Typically tossed onto the marital bed the day before the wedding and eaten by the bridal party as they prepare for the big day, these treats symbolise both the sweetness of marriage, and the bitterness (represented by the flavour of the almond).
5. Smash some plates
You might want to consult your wedding crockery provider before you include this stereotypical Greek tradition, or use the cheap, specially made plaster “plates” now available precisely for this purpose. Plate-smashing has long been associated with Greek weddings, but is in fact fairly uncommon in modern Greek communities.
If you do choose to incorporate this fun activity, however, the noisy mess is said to represent new beginnings. Others believe the tradition is designed to confuse potentially malign spirits who believe the plate smashing signifies a mournful occasion – thus banishing bad luck!
Today’s post has been kindly written by Sam Brown. You can follow and contact Sam via twitter.