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Greek Orthodox Wedding Traditions
The symbol of the Trinity- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit- are important aspects of the Greek
Orthodox religion and are incorporated symbolically within the wedding celebration Many of the
ceremony rituals are performed in series of threes.
Marriage is a ceremony within the Greek Orthodox Church. The ceremony actually begins on the
steps of the church in front of the doors, where the priest blesses the rings and they are exchanged.
This part of the service is called the Betrothal. The couple are then led into the church by the priest.
The couple stand on a white cloth before a platform. Following the couple in the procession a
wedding icon is carried. The bride and groom hold lit candles, which they hold throughout the
ceremony. The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is performed followed by three prayers.
Stefana or crowns are then placed on the bride and grooms heads as a symbol of God bestowing His
blessings in the form of crowns and in recognition of the couple's roles in the Kingdom of God. The
crowns are generally connected by a ribbon to symbolize the couple's eternal bond as husband and
wife. They are usually floral in motif, like a wreath, but may be of other materials. The crowns reside
atop a tray of almonds at the front of the church. During the ceremony, the crowns are exchanged or
switched between both heads three times, generally by the best man or koumbaros.
Following the Crowning ceremony, the ceremony continues with readings and the couple sharing a
communion cup. The couple then follows the priest around the wedding platform three times to
become husband and wife.
Greek wedding receptions are festive affairs full of singing, dancing, eating, and drinking The rich
food is followed by lively dancing and celebrating. The dancing traditionally begins with the
handkerchief dance or kalamatiano. The bridal couple begin the dance together dancing holding a
scarf or handkerchief by the ends between them. They then invite others into the dance. As the
festivities progress, breaking plates may be done to ward off evil spirits for good luck.
Traditional handkerchief dance.
Koumbaros or Kumbada
Traditionally the groom's godfather. Acts as a sponsor and starts the actions of the ceremony like the
crowns exchange and the procession around the wedding platform. Similar role of the Western
culture's Best Man.
Crowns used in the wedding ceremony made traditionally from orange blossoms, twigs and vines
wrapped in silver and gold and attached by a long ribbon. Symbols of the bride and groom as King