Greek Wedding Traditions
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Before the Ceremony
During the week prior to the ceremony, guests are invited to the couple's new home. They leave gifts on the couple's marriage bed.
The "Best Man" or Koumbaros
In the Greek Orthodox religion, the best man is replaced by a Koumbaros, who must be a member in good standing of the church, and has extended duties during the ceremony. It is he that holds twin crowns over the heads of the bride and groom, and he who assists when the couple take their first walk around the altar as husband and wife.
Signs of Good Luck and Fortune
Spitting (mostly a dry spit--a symbolic gesture) has been held as a sign of luck and good wishes by Greek people for centuries. It is not unusual for the bride to be spat upon from both sides all the way up the aisle!
A Betrothal Service is held immediately before the wedding service, and candles are held throughout the wedding service. The candles are a reminder of the five wise maidens in the Bible who brought enough oil to light the way of Christ when he came in the darkness of night. they symbolize the willingness of the couple to receive Christ and receive his blessing.
During an Eastern Orthodox wedding ceremony, the bride and groom will walk completely around the altar, led by the officiate. It is held as the first walk made by the married couple, and is done three times (as are other rites) as a sign of the Trinity.
The priest takes the couple's rings in his hand and makes the sign of the cross over the heads of the couple. The Koumbaros exchanges the rings between bride and groom three times; placing the groom's ring on the bride's finger and vise versa three times. The exchange reminds the couple that in married life the weaknesses of one should be compensated by the strengths of the other, and the perfections of one should compensate for the imperfections in the other.
The climax of the wedding is the Office of the Crowning. The crowns held above the heads of the bride and groom are a sign that couple have been crowned as heads of their home, or their kingdom, and they are charged to rule with wisdom, justice and integrity.
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