The civilisation of Greece is one of the oldest civilisations of the world. The Greek wedding customs are common to many part of the world though it has its own customs and traditions. Following are the main features of a Greek wedding.
Marriage in Public Interest
The most important feature of Greek wedding is that the marriages are held in public interest. Initially there was system of criminal prosecution for the people who were married late and those who did not marry at all. The principle behind it is to give healthy and legitimate children to the state.
The parents of the bride and groom play major role in mate selection. Normally there are three criteria of selecting a bride: her father must give dowry, she should be capable of bearing a child and she must have skills.
There is also a custom in Greek to marry a woman by winning her in a competition. Only one wife is allowed, but a man may have a three or more concubine or mistresses. The children of the concubines and mistresses can be legal heirs of the husband only with the permission of wife.
There is the system of exchanging rings by the couple at the time of engagement. This is done in the presence of their family.
Dates of Marriages
The Greek wedding is generally held in winter season and during full. The January month is assumed as most auspicious. No wedding is held in Greek in first two weeks of August. The marriages are not held in the forty days before Christmas. Due to religious reasons the weddings are not held on 29 August and 29 September.
Consent of Guardian for Marriage
The consent of the guardian of the girl is very much necessary for the marriage. The guardian may be her father, grand-father, elder brother, uncle or anyone. The choice of girl or the bride is not at considered.
The traditional Greek marriage ceremony consists of a three parts: the pre-wedding ceremony (Proaulia), the actual wedding (gamos) and the post-wedding ceremony (epaulia).
The proaulia is the feast held at bride’s house and on that the bride spends time with her mother and female relatives. She makes offerings (proteleia) to gods.
The Gamos is the wedding day and it starts with nuptial bath of the bride, followed by offering of bride and groom in the local temple and wedding feast attended by both the families. In the anakalupteria ritual, the bride's veil is removed.
The wedding planning involves the making of the marriage bed by the bride and her single friends and it final approval by the groom. The friends of the groom prepare and stand beside him during the marriage rituals. The bride is prepared by the maid of honour (koumbara). The bride is taken to the aisle for marriage by her father. After the marriage the couple sip the wine from the common cup which is poured by the priest.
Dance is the important component of major celebration. All the three dances Tsamiko, Zeibekiko and Kalamatianos are performed during celebrations. The bride and groom perform the last dance of night.