The affairs of a Cretan wedding ceremony.
All around Crete you see enormous buildings which are used for wedding parties. But what happens first?
The first step of a wedding is the promising. The family of the groom visits the family of the bride in order for him to ask permission from her father to marry her. Once her father has consented, a ring is given to the bride to “seal the bargain” and keep the promise. Afterwards, all the family members sit down and have dinner and they get to know each other. The couple can now choose whether to start living together in their own house or still stay seperately.
Next step is the engagement ceremony. The families set the date and inform family members and friends for the party. A priest is also invided to give the blessings on the rings. The couple has already bought their wedding rings and they have decided on what presents will be given from the family members. The family of the groom gives presents to the bride and the family of the bride gives presents to the groom. These presents are mainly jewellery and watches. The rest of the guests, family members and friends can either buy jewellery, home equipment or even give money to the couple to use how they want. The rings are placed in front of an icon, usually one of Mary, Mother of God. Once the priest blesses the rings, he places them on the ring finger of the left hand. This indicates that they are engaged to be married. After all guests have congratulated the couple, there is a party happening including food, drinks and dancing. In case the couple lives separately after the promising, it is now time to start living together in their own house. This will also give them time to prepare for the wedding ceremony.
There are circumstances where the promising can be combined with the engagement. In this case, the couple decides on rings, presents and the party. One thing is certainly happening in all cases, the party afterwards. The wedding can be scheduled anytime between 2 months and 2 years after the engangement.
Final step is the wedding ceremony. The presence of a bestman is now necessary. It can either be a male, a female or even both. This role is given to someone either after he asks for it himself or the couple makes a request from him. The bestman “koubaros” is usually a friend of the couple and he is the one signing on the wedding licence as a witness. The marital ceremony starts with the engagement in church this time. The priest blesses the rings by putting them on top of the bible. This time the rings are placed on the ring finger of the right hand. This indicates that they are married. During the Byzantian songs the bestman “koubaros” has to change the rings between the couple three times. Then comes the marriage procedure where the priest blesses the wedding rings that are placed on the heads of the bride and groom and he pronounces the couple husband and wife. The rings are connected through a cord and they remain connected forever. Again, the bestman “koubaros” has to change the rings between the couple three times. According to the Orthodox church, the couple is given their first Holy Communion with 3 sips of wine that stands on the table. In Crete it is a tradition that the couple is fed honey and nuts so that their wedded life will be sweet all the time. The rest of the honey and nuts is given out to the unmarried guests for good luck. Now the couple has to go on their first official walk as a couple around the bible for 3 times. During this walk all of the guests through rice and rose petals to the couple for prosperity.
Next they stand on one side of the church, so that everybody can congratulate them. As an old tradition golden coins are given to the bride and they are hung around her neck. The presents of the guests are mainly money put in an envelope but there are cases when the couple can receive personal presents as well. At a wedding of about 1.000 guests approximately 40.000 euro worth of money and gifts is collected. This is for the newlyweds to spend as they wish.
The invitation of guests and the wedding expenses
The number of guests depends on the family tree. If there is a big family, there will be many guests. Cretan weddings can host a party of 250-1500 guests. All family members of the bride and groom have a right to invite someone to the wedding but the final choice is among the parents and the couple. Parents are a majr factor since they are they ones paying for the food and drinks at the party. The rest of the expenses is covered by the couple and it is shared among the parents. An average wedding of 600 guests costs about 30.000 euro. However, during the years of the greek economical crisis, many expenses are avoided. This means that maybe the couple avoids promising and engagement and they proceed immediately to the wedding. Also, the guest list can be shrunk to half.