Getting ready for the big day
Although civil wedding ceremonies are becoming more commonplace, church services remain the most popular weddings in Cyprus where 95% of local Greek Cypriot weddings are church weddings.
A modern Greek Cypriot wedding is an event which Cypriot families spend more than a year preparing for, starting with booking a date at a church for the wedding a least a year in advance and up to the details of printing the necessary invitation cards. At the church, on wedding day, there will be all that splendour of icons, gold chandelier, gold candlestick holders, and so on.
Once the service gets underway, the congregation needs to do very little at all except stand around and watch the procedure as there is no sing along in Orthodox churches and all the wedding prayers are carried out by the priest.
The ceremony usually lasts for about an hour and a half. At the end of the prayers, the priest joins the hands of the bride and groom and these remain joined until the end of the service to symbolize that the wedding-couple are now one. The tiara-like wedding crowns, “Stefana”, are joined by a ribbon. The priest takes the two crowns, blesses the bride and groom, and then places the crowns on their heads. The Best Man, “Koumbaros”, and bridesmaid, “Koumbara”, step behind the bride and groom and interchange the crowns three times. The priest then leads the bride and groom, in their first steps as a married-couple, in a circle around the ceremonial table. At the end of the ceremonial walk, the priest removes the crowns and separates their joined hands, reminding them that only God can separate them.
Another important element of the wedding day is the wedding dress. Metres and metres of lace, tulle, beads and embroidery make up the fantastic candyfloss wedding’s dress creations used by Cypriot brides.
Then there are the wedding receptions. Modern receptions come in several different forms. These could take place next to the swimming pool at a luxury hotel, or in a large villa or a local restaurant.
The bride and groom, together with their parents, will be standing at a central location in the reception venue. Then the wedding reception guests, in a queue, will walk up to the couple, congratulate them and then hand them a wedding present. This could be cash placed in an envelop and handed to the groom, or in kind which in this case is placed on a large table nearby set up for this purpose.
After shaking hands with the couple and their parents, and before leaving the queue, each and every wedding guest will be handed a traditional Cypriot shortbread cake called ‘Loukoumi’ which the guests usually take home with them.
The guests then will be offered glasses of soft and alcoholic drinks either by waiters moving about the reception’s venue or from a set up buffet.
The process of congratulating the wedding couple can take a couple of hours, or more, as it is not unusual for Cypriot weddings guests to be between 1000 to 3000 invited guests.
How to get married in Cyprus? Useful information for visitors to the Island:
Do you want to get married in Cyprus? Wedding in Cyprus – FAQs
Looking for a Wedding Planner in Cyprus? Cyprus Wedding Specialists
An enjoyable & relaxed Cyprus Villa wedding? Exclusive Cyprus wedding villas
Wedding Day – The Celeration Goes On
Such receptions take place in all sorts of venues. The restaurants specially designed to cater for these functions effortlessly swallow up hundreds of guests. But the food is always good and there’ll be lots of it.
After hours of standing and greeting during wedding day, the lucky (and exhausted) couple take to the dance floor. Traditionally, family and close friends would pin money to the couple’s clothing. This was quite a display, watching the happy couple glide around the dance floor, dragging streamers of paper money. Sadly this custom seems to be dying out. While all this was going on, music was provided by a singer on a fiddle, singing songs about the couple’s lives and families.
Before the advent of the Millennium Dome-esque reception venues, village weddings were often held on any large open area, even on a football ground. A stage was erected for the musicians, and trestle tables were laid end to end for the feasting. Festivities would get very lively, but there were never any problems with neighbours complaining about the noise. After all, the whole village was invited anyway. Services would always be held on a Sunday being the official wedding day.
Traditional weddings generally started with dowry negotiations. Arranged marriages were very often the order of the day.
Much music and dancing, with music usually provided by the violin and bouzouki, accompanied all stages of the celebrations. Prior to the wedding, the ‘bridegroom’s clothes’ dance would be performed by the best man and the ‘wedding dress’ dance by the bridesmaids.
The married women of the village prepared the mattress that the newly-weds would use on their wedding night, accompanied by yet more singing and dancing. This was a very intricate procedure; many traditions were involved, from the priest blessing the bedding to the way the wool for stuffing the mattress was laid out, the sewing being accompanied by singing.
Wedding gifts were then laid out on the finished mattress for the future couple.
After all of this, the actual ceremony would finally take place. The villagers enjoyed a wedding; they had been involved almost every step of the way and the finale was a good excuse for a knees up!
Traditional marriages lasted for three days, but, Unfortunately, nowadays you won’t get to party for that long.
While many of the old village wedding traditions still survive, some have been dropped. If you’re lucky enough to be invited to a wedding, either in town or in a village, then do go, they’re very entertaining and you can be sure of good food and excellent company.