27 Dresses, sounds familiar? Katherine Heigl’s movie; always the bridesmaid!…Well, my bridesmaid days are over and I am honored to witness and celebrate the union of two hearts in an Orthodox wedding in Cyprus.
Cyprus, A Wedding Destination
Do you know that Cyprus is a wedding destination in Europe? Here are some of the reasons according to Cyprus Tourism Organization:
1. Cyprus is widely recognized as the ‘Island of Love’ identifying brides with the Goddess of Love and Beauty, Aphrodite, who was born on the island.
2. Beautiful beaches with crystal clear waters, fantastic climate with warm, sunny days throughout the year.
3. Stunning variety of different wedding venues including beaches, yachts, castles, museums, wineries and traditional villages.
4. Simple marriage formalities with worldwide legality. Wedding certificate is given at the ceremony on the same day.
5. A range of bespoke, themed and packaged weddings all available on the island.
6. Location provides a combination of wedding, blessing and/or renewal of vows with holidays and honeymoon.
Hey, lovebirds what are you waiting for? Can you put this on the list and have everyone travel for your wedding?!
Last June of 2019 an orthodox wedding took place at Kykkos church Nicosia. The main monastery is in Troodos Mountain which I visited last March 2019.
Suggested reading: Up in the Mountains – Kykkos Monastery
A beautiful reception at Aeyialos a fish restaurant located at Pernera Beach, Protaras. This is an approximate an hour’s drive from Larnaka. Protaras is a resort town located in the eastern part of Cyprus, part of the Famagusta district, hence it is well known for its sky blue waters and sandy beaches.
Popular wedding venues in Cyprus are in Agia Napa, Paralimni, Protaras, Limassol, and Pafos.
Related Article: Cyprus Famous Landmark, Cape Greco
At this wedding there is a dramatic vintage car ride, the venue is elegantly set-up, a delish food buffet, and great music with a live saxophone musician.
Orthodox Wedding Customs and Traditions
So how is the orthodox wedding like? Cyprus wedding follows customs and traditions that are well preserved over the years. Back in the days, these traditions will take a month as the bride and groom go to their villages.
Glad that there is a booklet guide for this event. This is for every guest to understand the various scenes happening in an orthodox wedding since a handful of us are not from Cyprus.
αλλαματα (Allamata): The dressing of the bride and groom.
Families and friends gather to each house for the couple to get ready with the help of bridesmaids (κουμέρες / kumeres) and best men (κουμπαροι / kumbari). Then they proceed to meet at the church.
At the start of the ceremony, the parents of the bride walk her to the groom and together they walk to the aisle towards the altar. The ceremony is about an hour in the Greek Byzantine language. Together with the bride and groom, parents, bridesmaids, and groomsmen stand at the altar for the entire duration.
The priest blesses the ring then the best man and bridesmaid exchange the rings 3 times between the bride’s and groom’s fingers which symbolizes unconditional acceptance.
Joining of Hands
The priest joins the couple’s right hands as he reads the blessings. They continue to hold throughout the ceremony as a symbol of oneness and unity.
The couple is adorned with marital crowns which are joined together with a white ribbon as a symbol of royalty, and it means the formation of a new household. The crown symbolizes glory and honor bestowed on the couple by God and the white ribbon symbolizes unity. The priest exchanges the crowns back and forth 3 times.
The Common Cup
After the crowning, the gospel is read; the wedding at Cana of Galilee. The priest pours wine into the “common cup” for the bride and groom to take sips. The wine symbolizes life and the sharing of sips symbolizes sharing of life together.
The Dance of Isaiah (Ceremonial Walk)
The priest leads the crowned couple 3 times around the altar. This is the first walk as husband and wife, a symbol of their commitment to stay together.
After the walk, the priest blesses them, lifts the crown and separates their previously joined hands with the Bible; which means only God can break their union.
One funny tradition during the ceremony is the stomping of the groom’s foot by the bride. This happens after the priest says ” The woman to fear the husband”. Well, who has the upper hand in the married life?
The Rice and Petals
The guests throw with a handful of rice and petals as the couple exits the church symbolizing fertility, wealth, good fortune, and happy marriage.
κουφέτα -Sugar coated almonds
Bittersweet. Symbolizes ups and downs of marriage.
Cypriot weddings are usually big weddings, similar to inviting the entire village or perhaps several villages. In this wedding approximately there are 400 guests. Do you remember the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding?
Arriving at the reception, a meet and greet with the newlywed, followed by the groom’s parents then the bride’s parents. Cocktails are flowing until all the guests have arrived.
The couple walks together to begin the program. After some formalities, dinner commenced. The speeches followed then finally a night of dancing till the wee hours.
Overall it was a wonderful event to witness and at the same time learning more about cultures. This is my first time witnessing an Orthodox wedding in Cyprus. And I hope to witness many more weddings on this island of love!
Further Reading: Cyprus, A Mythical Island of Love
Do you look forward traveling for wedding occasions?
Where was your unforgettable wedding destination?
Do you plan to have a ceremony abroad?