The Greek Orthodox wedding ceremony is an ancient rite full of profound symbolism and meaning.
The couple is led through the ceremony by their priest and their witnesses who remain an important figure in the couples' life. The betrothal ceremony begins with the wedding procession from the house to the church. On arriving at the church the groom offers the bride a bouquet, promising to make their life together blossom. The wedding ceremony begins and the priest utters the words "O Lord our God, Growns the with Glory and Honour".
The Dance of Isaiah
Following the common cup ritual, the priest leads the couple and the koumbaros three-time around the altar. This ritual dance predates Christianity, representing the dance around the Ark of the Covenant. In this act, the couple takes their first steps as a married couple. Guests throw rice at the bride and the groom for their marriage to have a solid foundation.
The Crowing, the Rings & the Common Cup
The crowing is the centerpiece of the Greek Orthodox wedding ceremony. The wedding crowns are placed on the table with sugared almonds. Lemon blossoms are often fashioned into ornate crowns as a symbol of glory, honour, and fertility. To the left and the right if the table are placed two white candles, symbolizing the light and purity of the new union. The koumbaros present the couple with the two crowns joined by a ribbon, symbolizing the couple's unity. The priest places the crowns on the couple's heads while they face the altar. The koumparos does the same with the rings and places them on the couple's right hand. The rings symbolize the unity and stability of the relationship. Then the priest gives the couple and the koumbaros three sips of wine from a shared cup. The ritual of the common cup is based on the wedding of Cana of Galilee, where Jesus turned water into wine. The cup represents life and symbolizes the couple's mutual sharing of joy and sorrow.
Sugar-coated almonds ("koufeta"), traditionally placed in white bags, are offered as favors to the guests after the ceremony. The sugar-coated almonds represent the bittersweet life of a married couple, whilst the almond's egg shape symbolizes fertility. Greek superstition has it that if a single woman places koufeta under her pillow for three nights after the wedding, she will see the man she is to marry in her dreams.