Greece is an amazing destination for your wedding. You are practically guaranteed sunshine, gorgeous scenery and it’s easy to get to from almost anywhere in the world. All of Greek life is jam-packed with tradition and ritual, and none more so than a Greek wedding ceremony. Take stamping on your husband's foot to establish dominance in the marriage for example. No, really, it’s a thing! But my hands down favourite has to be the wedding crowns.
It’s nice to embrace some of the traditions of the country where you are holding your destination wedding, and if you have chosen Greece there are many ways in which the crowns can be incorporated into your ceremony. They are also visually beautiful and a great way to include significant people in the ceremony.
Wedding crowns date back to ancient Greece when they were made from either olive branches or vines, both of which are pliable and strong enough to twist into a circle and fragrant lemon blossoms would be woven in between. They would be worn by all the guests at the wedding (also fun!) and the couple would wear them for a whole week after the wedding too. This, of course, necessitated a second ceremony for the removal of the crowns. Any excuse for a party, I say.
Nowadays the wedding crowns, or ‘Stefania’ as they are called in Greek, are two wire circles, which are placed onto the couples’ heads during the ceremony and are joined by a long ribbon which sits at the back of the head. They may be silver or decorated with pearls or ribbon. The Greek Orthodox church kept the tradition and it’s an integral part of the religious ceremony.
From their origins in ancient Greece they crown the couple as King and Queen of their home, which they must rule with wisdom, justice, and integrity. The natural materials they were made from were dedicated to Aphrodite, the goddess of love.
Within the Greek Orthodox wedding ceremony no words are spoken by the couple and it’s the moment when the crowns are placed on their heads that they are married. The crowns are exchanged three times over the couples’ heads by their best man and/or woman to invoke the holy trinity, but also to signify that the couples worth lies within the other and they now complement each other.
So their incorporation into the ceremony signifies the betrothal and the single ribbon joining them symbolises their unity.
There are many ways in which you could include the beautiful symbolism of the wedding crowns into your ceremony. This may depend on how many people you want to be involved. For example, I once included four people by giving two of them a crown each, which they placed on the couples head, then the third person attached the end of the ribbon onto the brides crown and the fourth took the free end of the ribbon and joined it to the grooms crown. It was a moving moment, especially for the people chosen as they really had an active role in literally tying the couple together! This takes some modifying of the crowns as they are made with the ribbon attached, but well worth the effort.
You can also keep it simple with just your best man and maid of honour stepping forward with a crown each to place on your heads simultaneously, like a double coronation! Or you can keep in the exchange above your heads to symbolise your interchangeable roles and equality (I like that one best). You could even go the whole hog and include all three styles and throw in a hand fasting with the ribbon before you start on the crowns – I changed my mind, I like THAT one best!
You can buy them in Greece of course and they are widely available online. Or you could even make your own! Pinterest has boards dedicated to this and Etsy has many crafty folk who will make them for you. If you buy traditional Greek crowns they start at around £200.
Then you just need a fabulous Celebrant to adapt this beautiful tradition to your own needs and style and there you have a unique, personalised ceremony with the perfect Greek twist!
Elizabeth is an independent Celebrant for weddings and Vow Renewals all over Greece.View Elizabeth's Profile
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