If you’ve ever been a part of a Greek wedding, you’ll remember it for sure! I had the great honor of being the wedding planner for this wedding in the Greek Orthodox Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Greek weddings, especially the sacrament of marriage, are known for their unique and culturally rich traditions and customs. For Kristina Theodosopoulos and Connor Herd, it was exactly that! Here are some of the most distinctive and memorable parts of a Greek wedding:
- Koumbaro and Koumbara: For Kristina and Connor’s wedding, they chose her brother to be the Koumbaro, or sponsor. He played an active role in their ceremony because a close interwoven relationship exists among the bride, groom, and Koumbaro. They must be of Greek Orthodox faith and give witness before God and the guests that Kristina and Connor are committed to each other and Christ.
- The Candles: The bride and groom held candles throughout the service. The candles symbolize the purity of their lives, which should shine with the light of virtue and spiritual willingness of the couple to receive Christ, who will bless them through this Sacrament. I also noticed that the couple didn’t face the crowd or each other. They faced the front of the church and made their vows to Christ.
- The Rings get placed on the RIGHT hand: The exchanging of rings is called the Betrothal. The priest blessed the rings three times two symbolize the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. The rings are placed on the right hand of the bride and groom and are exchanged between each other three times by the Koumbaro to symbolize the Holy Trinity and the joining of the couple’s lives into one in Holy Matrimony.
- Joining of Hands: The priest (there were two, actually, in their case) asked the couple to join hands and call upon God to unify both of them in mind and body. Prayers are said over the couple, asking for a long life filled with peace, happiness and health. The hands remain joined throughout the service to symbolize the “oneness” of their love. There were also chanters during this time, singing their blessings over the couple.
- Stefana (Wedding Crowns): The stefana are two beautifully decorated crowns connected by a white ribbon or thread. They symbolize the couple’s unity and the bond of marriage. During the ceremony, the crowns are swapped between the couple’s heads three times by the Koumbaro.
- The “Ceremonial Walk” or “Crowning Ceremony”: This is a unique and symbolic part of the Greek Orthodox wedding ceremony. The priest leads the couple around a table as the bride and groom take their first steps as a married couple. The walk symbolizes their life together as an orbit around the center of life, Christ — and representing their journey through life together and their commitment to God.
- Traditional Greek Music and Dance: Greek weddings are known for their lively and spirited music and dance. Traditional dances like the “kalamatianos” and the “tsamiko” are commonly performed, often involving the entire wedding party. What a fun part of the day! Check out the picture I took of the littlest (and cutest) Greek dancer you’ll ever see!
- Traditional Greek Desserts: The dessert table was a hit at this wedding! It was full of homemade Greek traditional sweets like melomakarona (honey-dipped cinnamon cookies with nuts sprinkled on top), baklava (layers of flaky pastry filled with crushed nuts and sweetened with honey syrup), and Kourabiedes (little shortbread-type cookies covered in powdered sugar and flavored with almond flavoring).
- The Cutting of the Wedding Cake: Like in many Western weddings, a multi-tiered wedding cake is an essential part of the reception. The couple cuts the first slice together — and Hitch Studio cut and served the rest of the cake!
- The Wedding Favors: Traditional greek favors are typically little jars or packages of “bombonieres” or “koufeta,” (sugared almonds). These symbolize the bittersweet nature of life. The couple even tied each favor with a tag that said “Five sugared almonds to symbolize wishes for the new husband and wife: health, wealth, happiness, family & a long life!”
- Singing and Toasts: Greek weddings involve a lot of singing and toasts, often accompanied by heartfelt and emotional speeches from family and friends. Parents from both the bride and groom spoke from the heart and it was a special part of the night.
- Dancing on Tables: It’s not uncommon for guests to climb onto tables and dance the night away, especially after a few rounds of ouzo or other Greek spirits. I didn’t witness any dancing on tables — probably because the family took Greek shots the night before the wedding. Haha!
Not only was the ceremony so special, but the reception was just as beautiful. They chose a neutral color palette with soft flower hues and a really pretty head table! Take a look at the decor provided by Hitch Studio, but the good taste from the couple!
There are more Greek traditions at a wedding than I listed, and each one makes them so memorable and culturally rich. If you have questions about a traditional Greek ceremony or wedding reception — or want a South Dakota wedding planner to take you through any/all of the options, email Hitch Studio today! We’d love to help you bring your vision to life!
Thank you to all the vendors that helped make this wedding day come to life!
Ceremony Venue: Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church // 1936 S Summit Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57105
Reception Venue: Laurel Ridge Barn – Wedding & Events Venue // 47675 Slip Up Creek Rd, Sioux Falls, SD 57104
Officiants: Fr. Peter and Fr. Sava
Florist: HyVee // Brookings // 605-692-7317 // firstname.lastname@example.org
Limo Bus: Paramount Party Bus // 605-300-0195 // email@example.com
DJ: Sieff Style // Adam Sieff // (605) 413-5063 // firstname.lastname@example.org
Cake: Chef April // (605) 321-1295 // email@example.com
Caterer: Chef Dominique // 605.336.0455 // firstname.lastname@example.org
Photographer: Brittany DeRyke Photography // email@example.com
Makeup: Allee Siver (friend)
Hair: Stephanie + Kacey
Wedding Planner: Hitch Studio // Renee Bauman // firstname.lastname@example.org