When it comes to cultural practices, Greek wedding traditions are some of the best. Here at the National Conference Centre, we have hosted many traditional Greek weddings that have blown us away. So, in today’s article, we’ll be discussing some Greek Orthodox wedding traditions we love.
The Koumbaro & Koumbara
Commonly known as the Best Man or the Matron / Maid of honour, the Koumbaro and Koumbara are the two guests that hold the most importance on the day of the wedding. In a traditional Greek wedding, the Koumbaro ensures the groom is ready for the big day by wet-shaving him before the ceremony, and delivering the bride her shoes as she prepares. When the Koumbaro delivers the shoes, it is customary for the bride to insist they’re too big so the Koumbaro stuffs them with money until they fit.
The Koumbaro or Koumbara are responsible for switching the rings and the crowns at the ceremony and handing Martyrika to the other guests as they leave for the reception. Martyrika is a staple of a Greek Orthodox wedding and represents the witnesses of the ceremony. Furthermore, these two special guests will likely become the godparents to the future children of the bride and groom.
The tastiest of the Greek wedding traditions in this article is Koufeta, otherwise known as sugared almonds. Koufeta is a layered symbol of the newlyweds’ happy life together and is given out as party favours to guests once the party is over. The white layer of sugar over the almonds represents purity, the egg shape; fertility, the hard shell of the almond; the endurance of marriage, and the sugary coating as a promise of a sweet life together.
The koufeta are intended to be placed under the pillow of an unmarried woman to encourage her to dream of her future husband and are always bagged in odd numbers. Odd numbers are one of those Greek wedding traditions that you may not recognise on the surface, but there is great symbolism in odd numbers for a traditional Greek wedding. The odd numbers of koufeta symbolise the indivisibility of the newly married couple, and the same goes for the recommended odd number of guests who attend.
The number three is particularly regular in a traditional Greek wedding, as it is thought to be very lucky on account of The Holy Trinity, The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. For this reason, the rings are swapped three times, as are the crowns, and the drinking from the Common Cup during the ceremony is repeated thrice.
Those who intend to throw a Greek Orthodox wedding should be aware of the specially reserved dates for various holy periods throughout the year. For example, it will be very difficult to find a ceremonial Priest to officiate a traditional Greek wedding from the 13th to the 25th of December due to the celebration of the birth of Christ. Furthermore, Lent is also prohibited, and the first two weeks of August which are dedicated to the virgin mary. The 29th of August is not allowed due to the mourning of the death of Saint John the Baptist. And finally, September 14th is also disallowed due to the celebration of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. To be wed on these days would require the special consent of the ceremonial Priest.
Unlike western weddings which most popularly occur in June, September, and October, the most popular months for weddings in Greece are January and July. This is due to the Queen of the Olympian gods in Greek mythology, Hera, the goddess of women, marriage, and childbirth. Later translated to Juno, the month of June, as well as January, became a dedicated time for Hera. Timing a traditional Greek wedding for these months is thought to ensure a strong marriage and enhanced fertility.
Writing on the Bottom of the Bride’s Shoes
In one of the most interesting Greek wedding traditions we have seen, the bride writes the names of her single bridesmaids on the bottom of her shoe in pencil, and the most visible name by the end of the night is destined to be married next.
When you think of Greek wedding traditions, one of the first things you probably visualise is the crowning during the ceremony. This is a staple for a Greek Orthodox wedding, as the symbolism and ritual hold immense significance in the lives of the newlyweds.
Otherwise known as the Sacrament of Marriage, the crowning is part of Greek Orthodox wedding ceremonies and begins with lit candles. These lit candles symbolise Christ’s “Light of the world”, and upon taking them, the couple accepts Jesus Christ into their lives. After this, the Holy Trinity prayers are read, and the Priest blesses the couple’s crowns before placing them on their heads. Then, the Koumbaro or Koumbara will exchange the wedding crowns three times and repeat the process with the rings on their fingers. Then, the Bible story of Cana and Galilee’s marriage is read. The couple will then drink from the Common Cup three times as a symbol of their new shared life. Then, the Dance of Isaiah begins.
How can The National Conference Centre Help?
If you need a venue for your traditional Greek wedding that accommodates your Greek wedding traditions of choice, look no further than The National Conference Centre.
We have extensive experience hosting weddings from many different cultures and for various numbers of guests. In fact, we’ve even produced the ultimate guide on everything you need to know when planning a Greek wedding to help you with your prep.
With an expansive choice of rooms available and our interactive virtual tour feature, you can carefully assess which room will suit your party size and requirements.
We’re located in an ideal location that is easily accessible by train, car, and even plane, so your guests can travel from across the world directly to your venue. There are also two hotels close by, so your guests can stay as long as they need to right by your side.
If you’d like to enquire about booking your traditional Greek wedding with us at The National Conference Centre, please don’t hesitate to contact us now!