Sunday, July 3, 2011

How I attended an Athenian wedding in glasses...

Last night, I dreamt I went to Manderley again...

God, no, I'm sorry. I can't start any piece of writing with "Last night..." and NOT cite Rebecca. Can you blame me? Ahem. Sorry. Moving right along...

Last night, my in-laws and I attended our cousin's wedding. In a few words? It. Was. AWESOME. For me, it was a chance to experience a Greek Orthodox wedding without having to be directly involved. Although I won't share the picture of the whole experience for privacy reasons, I can tell you a little of how it went down.

In the morning of Saturday, my mother-in-law went to her sister's (the bride's mom) in order to help out with the preparations. My sister-in-law joined them in the late afternoon in order to get ready with the other girls and help the bride (and, of course, be in the photos). My husband and I had a couple of excuses at the ready and decided to join everyone directly in church (the wedding started at 8 PM - we were planning to be there at around 7:15/7:30-ish). With that in mind, we dressed in our color-coded outfits, as seen above. [On a side note, does anyone else's significant other have a thing about matching with the partner? I'm not talking about prom here, where - I learned last year - it is normal for a girl to wear a green dress and her date to match EXACTLY his cummerbund and bow tie. I mean, just...going with the other person's outfit. As I'd bought my blue dress first, my husband made sure to buy a light blue shirt/tie with his grey suit, as you can kind of see. I think it's...weird, but maybe it's just me.] 

Anyway, as we were early and nearby, we decided to also stop by the mother of the bride's home in order to see the bride, compliment her, and be complimented. After a quick hello, we joined the milling crowds (including the groom and his entourage) at the courtyard of the church to wait for the rest of the party. Eventually, the bride drove up with her dad, was met up by her family, and joined her grinning groom at the church steps. So here's a Greek wedding fun fact: the father hands over the bride at the steps of the church and the couple enter the church together. There's no "march down the aisle" for the bride and her party. Everyone goes in together. First the couple, then the party, if they so choose to have one. It usually consists of the parents of the bride and groom and at least one koumbaros/koumbara (best man/best woman); we had just a best man, but last night's couple had both, and a couple of flower girls to boot. 

Not the best picture, but from left to right, the koumbara, the bride, the groom, and the koumbaros. Note the two priests. And the photographer.

Then came the ceremony, which I won't describe because I won't do it justice, but it's very beautiful and symbolic. There's ring-exchanging, wreaths, and wine-drinking involved. One thing that was very moving is that the same priest married the bride's parents and baptized the bride, so he gave - from what I can understand - a very moving speech to the couple. 

We also showered the couple with rice as they walked around the altar (wearing their wreaths, which are connected to each other by ribbons), led by the priest. At our wedding, two years prior, our cousin had clocked us with grains of rice: it was payback time. We were handed rice at the beginning of the ceremony and - when the opportunity was nigh - we approached the altar and just pelted them. I think we almost killed a child. Another fun fact: this tradition is starting to get banned, but no one cares. In fact, it's banned in that church, but you know what? The father of the groom told us that there was no way in hell we WEREN'T throwing rice, so... off we went. The cleaning ladies looked pissed, let me tell you.

Anyway, after the triumphal exiting of the church by the happy couple, the rest of us went to a restaurant in Piraeus and ate, drank, and danced the night away. The party was fun, but the DJ was one of those guys who doesn't think that a song should last for more than forty-five seconds, so just as you're getting really into 'Funkytown,' the music will change. BOOOO! 

On the airplane ride into Athens last Monday evening, I realized something and my heart went cold with dread. I woke up my husband to tell him, practically crying: I'd forgotten all my contact lenses in Cambridge! Yup, people, for this important summer, which includes a Greek wedding, my dissertation defense, and my 30th birthday, I forgot to pack my disposables. Dammit. Weddings are fancy, and I had a fancy dress - and I'd be wearing my black Ray-Bans! ARRGH! My husband assured me that it would be fine, and - at the end of the day - I think it was:

I offered to take a picture of my husband, and like a good little blogger, centered it and included his feet. He... did not do the same for me...

I thought my dress was gorgeous, although it was a size or two too big on me and the straps kept on a) falling off or b) detaching from the dress. Oh, I also kept tripping over the yards of chiffon dangling from my (oddly-situated) waist. Still, I liked the overall look. And, so that you won't complain that you don't know what I wore on the bottom:

... orange shoes! Those are my go-to fancy summer shoes. I quite liked the juxtaposition between the various shades of blue on my dress and the bright pop of orange shoe. 

So there you have it, folks! Today we're spending the day recuperating from last night's excesses and trying to make up for the fact that we'll be travelling to Germany tomorrow at ass o'clock in the morning. Oy, so far this has been the summer of no sleep. Good thing I'll have a lot of time to nap between arriving in Hamburg and the super-dorky lecture I want to attend in the evening! 

Blue dress: bought in a boutique in Helioupoli
Orange shoes: Nine West (from, I think, 2006?)


  1. Thank you for talking about the wedding! I don't know anyone who would have a Greek Orthodox wedding (or any kind of "normal" wedding for that matter) so it is fun to see how other people do such a thing. My friend is getting married on a couple of weeks, but it's on a pony farm and her bridesmaids are wearing orange flip flops from Old Navy (if that tells you anything about the wedding I go to... lol)

  2. You guys are lucky the cleaning lady didn't pelt you with something even more dangerous than rice. Bwahaha!

    I love your dress! Should you ever tire of it, feel free to give it to me. :)

  3. You look great in that fabulous blue dress! And I think you're rocking the glasses. I've never been to a Greek Orthodox wedding, it sounds like quite an event :)

  4. Appreciate this explanation of customs unique to the Greek Orthodox. I have a husband who believes we should match when we go out...I think it's odd too and I suspect that a previous wife must have emphasized this with him, even though he owned no nice clothes when we married.

    Your dress is fantastic!

  5. I love that dress! I don't think Fella ever intentionally tries to match me, for special occasions or not, but we do dress alike on accident a LOT.

    Bummer that you forgot your contacts, but I think glasses look just fine here.

  6. Everyone, thanks for the kind words! I wish I could do better justice to the beauty of the ceremony, but thanks for bearing with me. :)

    Ray, if I end up packing it, it's yours! ;)

    Terri and Anne, thanks for sharing your men's quirks with me - I laugh at my husband when he tries to make sure we - not match, but maybe...blend? together: I tell him that I feel as if we're going to a tacky prom. Then he gets mad...

  7. I, too, love your dress and would take it off your hands if that were an option. (Just sayin'.) The wedding sounds lovely!

  8. A-Dubs, maybe I should start work on a Greek dress swap system??? Thanks for the kind words!

  9. Nice one

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  11. your feet and shoes but very nice dear