Destination weddings are usually very popular not only because they offer the couple the opportunity to live their big day in a totally new environment, but also because of the local customs related to the wedding ceremony, which are usually totally new to the bride and groom.
Greece is renowned for its special customs which are inherited from older generations and, of course, a special event, such as the greek wedding, wouldn’t be deprived of customs. Especially Santorini, which is now one of the most popular wedding destinations, has its own special wedding customs, which some people still follow.
The traditional Santorinian wedding is religious (Orthodox) and was typically held on a Sunday. However, the wedding customs used to commence usually two days before the traditional Santorini wedding, on Friday, when a small party was organized in the house where the couple would stay after the wedding. This custom was called “nifiko krevati”, which roughly translates into “the bridal bed” – and exists up to nowadays. According to this traditional custom, the – single or not – girl friends of the bride-to-be gathered and made the bridal bed, pouring rice on the sheets, so that the marriage would be solid, and “koufeta”, a traditional greek sweet treat, given as a gift to the guests of the wedding, so that the couple would give birth to a sweet baby.
The night before the wedding in Santorini, the couple slept apart: the groom would sleep at the house where he would stay with his bride as a married couple.As far as the bride was concerned? She needed to go and wake him up at dawn, as this would be the only way for the “house” to get used to the presence of the couple who would stay there from then on.
On the wedding day, musicians would gather outside the bride and groom’s house, in order to walk the groom to the bride’s maiden house, where she would spend the night – following the custom that wants the couple to sleep apart the night before the wedding. Then, the groom would take the bride by the hand and walk with her to the church for the ceremony.
Meanwhile, the priest (in greek “papas”), who performs the ceremony in a greek orthodox wedding, would take the bestman (or else “koumparos”) to a vineyard, along with a number of villagers. Praying, he would cut three branches off the vineyard. From them, he would make the “stefana”, or else the wedding wreaths, which are an integral part of the ceremony’s wedding customs not only in Santorini, but in Greece in general. With regard to the bestman, he would have to give a bottle of sweet wine to the priest, so that he could bless the tree from where the branches were cut. After pouring the wine, the bestman had to break the empty bottle, so that the life of the couple would be sweet and fruitful.
During the ceremony, the guests would wish the couple their wishes for a good life, and when the wedding ceremony was over they would return home, in the company of the musicians and their guests. Arriving back at their new home, the couple had to treat everyone with the “koufeta”, and, according to the old Santorinian wedding customs, hide their wedding wreaths under the bed, so that they were together forever.
Although nowadays most couples don’t opt for a traditional wedding, there are always nice to know and incorporate traditional wedding customs elements in modern weddings in Santorini!