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A Greek wedding ceremony | © Milkbar Nick/Flickr
A Greek wedding ceremony | © Milkbar Nick/Flickr

11 Tips to Survive a Traditional Greek Wedding

Picture of Ethel Dilouambaka
Updated: 7 July 2017
If you are attending a Big Fat Greek Wedding this summer, there’s a few things you need to know beforehand. First, you can expect weddings to be a big family affair and also be sure there will be copious amounts of food and booze involved. But besides that, arm yourself with a selfie stick, your biggest smile and best attire. For the rest, we tell you all about how to survive a Greek wedding.

Dress to the nines, heck, to the tens even

A Greek wedding is almost like a catwalk. The dress code is usually formal so you shouldn’t be surprised to see people dressed for a red-carpet event. So this is your chance to go all out and pick a glamorous outfit, as long as you feel comfortable in it.

Formal wear is de rigueur in Greek weddings
Formal wear is de rigueur in Greek weddings | © Emilio Labrador/Flickr

Know your way around pre-wedding traditions

Depending on the regions, you may be invited to a pre-wedding tradition called The Bed Making Ceremony (To Krevati). The bride and her bridesmaids but also some family members and guests come together to adorn the couple’s bed, and money is then thrown on the bed as gift. But the most important is the flipping of the baby; if the couple wants a girl, a baby girl is flipped or a baby boy otherwise. This unique tradition is meant to wish for fertility and blessings over the couple. Another fun tradition is that the bride writes the name of her single friends and bridesmaids on the sole of her shoes. At the end of the reception, the first name to be rubbed off is the next to get married (though this may vary from families or regions).

The bride writes the names of her single bridesmaids on the sole of her shoes
The bride writes the names of her single bridesmaids on the sole of her shoes | © PixaBay

It’s all Greek to me

The wedding ceremony is usually held inside or outside a church and is performed in ancient Greek. Full of symbolism, the ceremony is split between the betrothal part and the ceremony of the sacrament of marriage. The blessing and exchange of the rings happens during the betrothal ceremony, while the second ceremony features several parts, including the crowning and the ceremonial walk. The bride and groom may not exchange vows, but the ceremony counts a few funny moments like when the bride stamps on the groom’s foot when the priest says: the bride should fear her husband. This is her way to show that she disagrees.

Greek Orthodox wedding in Naxos
Greek Orthodox wedding in Naxos | © Zde/WikiCommons

Sit wherever you want

Seats at the reception are usually assigned, but at the church, you can sit wherever you like as there are no bride or groom sides. Standing in the back is perfectly fine too as the ceremony usually has a relaxed vibe. Don’t be surprised to see guests greeting each other and chatting, stand up to take photos or walk in and out of the church for a small break.

Spit on the happy couple

Once the ceremony is over and the happy couple leaves the church, you may have a “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” moment. Remember that scene when Toula walks down the aisle with her father and some members of the congregation (dry) spit on her to wish her good luck? Well this may happen too. Of course, spitting in this instance involves more words (Ftou Ftou Ftou) and less saliva. This is meant to ward off any evil from the couple. There will probably be some rice throwing too.