Greek Wedding Traditions and Customs
Even before the betrothal, the mother of the bride usually spends years collecting various household items for her daughter’s dowry. When the dowry has been presented to the couple, local girls volunteer to set up and decorate the newlywed’s home.
When the groom proposes, he is expected to ask the father for the daughter’s hand in marriage before the bride. A betrothal service is held when the engagement becomes official and the rings are blessed by the priest, they are later blessed once more during the marriage ceremony because they are usually the same rings.
During the engagement, the bride and groom wear their rings on the left hand and after they are married, the couple switches their rings to the right. Before the ceremony, musicians accompany the groom and his attendants to the church and then they make their way back to pick up and accompany the bride.
In the Greek tradition, the bride and groom are honored as queen and king for the day, and so during the ceremony they wear crowns made of either gold or orange blossoms that are connected with a ribbon to signify the union.
The best man (Koumbaros) leads the ceremony along with the priest and he is the one who places the crown on the couple’s heads. He also exchanges the rings between the bride and groom 3 times to remind the couple that in married life, the weaknesses of one are compensated by the strengths of the other and vice versa.
When the ceremony is complete, the bride and groom walk around the altar three times to symbolize the trinity and their first walk as a married couple.
During the reception, traditional Greek food is served and guests dance to Greek music in the traditional style. During one of the newlywed dances, guests pin money onto the bride and after the celebration, dishes are smashed on the floor with choruses of “opa” for good luck.