Sunday, July 16, 2006

Cypriot wedding

Yesterday afternoon we went to a wedding, of the Irish-Cypriot daughter of some friends. She's been in the UK for a few years since leaving school, and married an Englishman. But they wanted a Greek style wedding in Cyprus. Being Protestant Christians, they were married by the Greek Evangelical pastor rather than in a Greek Orthodox church, but other than that it was fairly typical for weddings here - and rather different from what we expect in the UK.

The wedding service itself was in both Greek and English, with two pastors officiating, translating each other where necessary. The bride made her vows in Greek, the groom in English. Since the bride's family are from the Reformed Presbyterian tradition, the only two congregational songs were Psalm based, however as the couple attend a very different church in the UK, one was accompanied by a guitarist. The church was packed, with standing room only for about forty people, including me! Richard was making a video of the wedding, Tim was assisting and doing the sound, so they went early. I had plenty of time to walk there, but left rather later than I should have done. Still, the service was only about forty minutes.

The biggest difference from British weddings is that the Reception attracts the majority of the guests. There were perhaps 150 people in the church, and over 700 at the Reception, which was held at the beautiful Palm Beach hotel starting at 8pm. There were photos taken beforehand - the wedding service ended about 6.45 - so we got there by about 7pm for Richard to take some extra video. I sat with friends at a nearby table and watched the preparations.

There isn't a big meal provided at a Cypriot wedding reception, but drinks and extensive nibbles. There were chicken pieces in batter, little pitta breads with halloumi, a selection of savoury hors d'oevres, and some beautifully made small sweets.

The official reception began with the small orchestra playing a wedding march, while the bride and groom came out of the hotel, and then cut their cake. After that, they stood with their parents, and grandparents, while the guests formed a lengthy line. Not everyone was there at 8pm, but they continued arriving through the evening. It must have been extremely boring for the wedding party, since they remained in place for over an hour and a half, simply shaking hands with the guests who filed past! They didn't even get anything to eat until much later in the evening when there was a proper meal for the family and very close friends starting at 10pm.

Another difference is that there aren't wedding lists circulated beforehand with household needs. Instead, guests simply give the couple money. In the past, I'm told that they used to dance while the guests affixed bank notes onto the bride's dress, however these days it's simpler: each family simply hands the groom an envelope, with a card and whatever sum of money they feel appropriate, while shaking his hand in the reception line. Much easier than having to find suitable gifts, I suppose, and nice for the young couple to start married life with what probably amounts to quite a large sum.

I had been very efficient and bought a card about two weeks previously, knowing that I probably wouldn't think about it at all while moving. I remembered it about two hours before the wedding. Unfortunately, I couldn't remember where I had put it! However I pulled out several of the boxes marked 'study' and eventually found it, along with a few birthday cards I keep in stock.

Oh, and for anyone interested, shortly after finding the card, I delved into yet another 'study' box, underneath some books and a box of pens, and discovered our missing canteen of cutlery:

So we used the contents today for our lunch guests.


jj said...

Oh I love the pictures of the reception/hotel. Looks lovely! That's how I want my wedding.... nice!!

My Mums sister got married in Barbados in a lovely garden and it all looks similar with the palm trees and such.

Mmm, nice. I know I sound young but that makes me dream of my wedding day, but hey - I've been doing that since I was 3, hehe.

Anvilcloud said...

Mixing cultures like you do must be very enriching.

mreddie said...

Very interesting wedding traditions there. Since there are many different cultural backgrounds in our country, I've been to several different type ceremonies and receptions - all joyous though. ec