27 Dresses, sounds familiar? Katherine Heigl’s movie; always the bridesmaid…Well, my bridesmaid days are over and I am happy and honored to witness and celebrate the union of 2 hearts. And yet for every event, there is usually the what-to-wear dilemma. No worries after all the searching, in just less than a week before the wedding, I found it at Ledra!
So I’m not going to talk about fashion. Let me share with you the first orthodox wedding I attended here in Cyprus.
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.
Last Saturday, 22nd of June, I attended an orthodox wedding held 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.
So how was the orthodox wedding like? Cyprus wedding follows customs and traditions that are well preserved over the years. Glad that there is a handbook as a guide for this event, as below.
αλλαματα – 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) and best men (κουμπαροι). Then they proceed to meet at the church.
At 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 Greek Byzantine language. All those at the altar stand for the entire duration. Here are the important symbols:
Ring – symbolizes eternal love and union. 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.
Crowning – The couple is adorned with marital crowns which are joined together with a white ribbon as a symbol of royalty; 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 to 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.
The Blessing – 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 groom’s foot by the bride. This happens after the priest says ” The woman to fear the husband”. Well, who has the upper hand of 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. There were about 400 guests for this wedding. Upon arrival at the reception, you will meet and greet the newlywed, followed by the groom’s parents then the bride’s parents. Cocktails are served until all the guests have arrived.
Then the couple walks together to begin the program. Dinner was served first, then once everyone is settled; the speeches began. Finally a night of dancing till the wee hours.
Beautiful venue set-up, dramatic vintage car ride by Cool Vintage, delish food buffet and great music with a live saxophone musician. Overall it was indeed a great night and glad to be part of this important event in their lives!