Greek weddings are more than what was portrayed in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. A Greek wedding is heavily rooted in tradition and custom, and the etiquette behind the big day is incredibly important. The emphasis on family and the Greek Orthodox religion are paramount in a Greek wedding celebration. From the engagement through the wedding ceremony, there is much etiquette that surrounds the marriage.
Greek wedding etiquette begins long before the couple says "I do." Before the couple is even engaged, the suitor must pay a visit to the bride-to-be's parents' home and ask for her hand in marriage. Once the parents have agreed to the pair's marriage, a priest blesses the engagement rings for both bride and groom. After the blessing, the rings are then placed on the couple's left ring fingers and guests of the engagement wish the couple many blessings.
In the Greek Orthodox culture, there are certain dates for which a bride and groom may not be married. Aside from Christmas and Easter, marriages may not be celebrated during a fasting day or a fasting season, such as Lent. Should a couple obtain permission from their bishop, they may be granted the ability to wed during these periods. Typically, however, a couple opts to celebrate their marriage outside of these off-limit dates.
In the Greek culture, it's customary for a bride and groom to have a best man and best woman, or koumbaro and koumbara. They play an integral role in the ceremony and invite wedding guests to participate in the "Dance of Isaiah." During the dance, guests throw rice and odd numbers of sugar-coated candy, such as Jordan almonds, to the newly wed couple. The Jordan almonds are distributed in odd numbers to represent the idea that marriage is indivisible.
The Greek wedding reception is a celebration for bride, groom and their families. In keeping with the culture's customs, the bride's parents plan and pay for the party. During the reception, however, it is tradition for guests to pin money on the bride and groom's clothing as they dance. The money dance allows guests to give the couple money to begin their lives together as man and wife.
Greek wedding guests give more to the bride and groom besides money for the money dance. Guests are invited to the bride and groom's new home prior to the wedding celebration to present the couple with a gift to celebrate their nuptials. These gifts from both friends and family of the bride and groom are said to bring good fortune to the newlyweds.