YAH-soo (‘Hello’)!    Earlier this year, Blushing Bride Photography teamed up with our wonderful videography colleagues, Cut the Cake Films (see link below), to cover our first Greek Wedding!  The Bride & Groom-to-be, Sian & Yiorgos, were on the search for a photography & videography team that had never covered a Greek wedding before!  Why?  Because they wanted fresh eyes with no pre-conceived ideas of what that coverage should look like.   They loved our work, our unobtrusive style, our passion, & our enthusiasm.  The date was set!

The wedding service took place at All Saints Church, Margate with the wedding reception being hosted at Margate Winter Gardens.

Greek Wedding in Margate

Wowsa, what an EVENT a Greek Wedding is!   As the film says, Greek Weddings are “big”!  Full of guests (usually hundreds).  The day is full of tradition, ceremonies, rituals & of course dancing!   We LOVED being part of their celebrations.  We were all broken in the end, I’ll be honest!  This was as much due to the weather (another sweltering day) as the 12 hours on camera!  But the day was so action-packed, fast moving & overwhelmingly full of fun, friendship, love & laughter!  Sian & Yiorgos’ family & friends greeted us like we were long-lost buddies.  I have to say, it was a true honour to document their celebrations. I’m hoping that this blog will give you a small flavour of their amazing, & I mean AMAZING, BIG, wedding day!

A Greek wedding day starts early!   The dream team met at 8:00 a.m. in a Whitstable car park.  Like a military operation, two cars entered & shortly after, two cars left.  Team Bride, namely Helen & myself, set off for Margate to cover Bridal Preparations.  Team Groom being Bill & Jon, set off to Canterbury to cover Groomsmen preparations.

Bridal Preparations

Sian’s dress was quite simply exquisite & suited her tiny frame perfectly.  A Sophia Tolli design, it was adorned with stunning beaded work & lace appliques.  Sian looked every bit the beautiful Bride.  Sian & Yiorgos’ theme colour was red & Sian’s bouquet was a collection of red & ivory roses.  The red roses all showcasing a diamonte pin to contrast the vivid colour.

Sian purchased her “Sophia Tolli” dress from The Crystal Fairy Company in Birchington (see link below).  A representative from the boutique was present in the morning to help Sian get dressed – how wonderful is that!  Sian’s make-up was perfected by Kent Make Up by Jo (link at bottom of blog) whilst her hair was styled by a personal friend.

Stolisma Ceremonies

As is Greek tradition, close family & friends gather at either the Bride’s or Groom’s house, on the morning of the wedding, to offer their blessing by way of a Stolisma ceremony.   In preparation for the Stolisma ceremony & again in keeping with tradition, Yiorgos was shaved & dressed by his ‘Proto Koumbara’ (Best Man) & made ready for his ceremony – ta dah!

During the Stolisma ceremony, a voilinist plays traditional music, whilst a Red Scarf (the ‘Zoni’) is tied around the waist of the Bride or Groom 3 times to symbolise fertility. The close family member offering the blessing also uses the Zoni to act out the symbol of the cross, again 3 times.

Everything is done 3 times to represent the Father, the Son & the Holy Spirit.  A silver plated ‘Kapnistiri’ is filled with dried olive leaves, burning charcoal & incense for aroma.  The Kapnistiri is then passed around the head of the Bride or Groom, again 3 times.  Once the ceremonies are complete the Bride & Groom are deemed to be blessed & ready to wed.

Greek Wedding Service

Sian was given away by her very proud Father to a waiting, & slightly nervous, Yiorgos.  The wedding service itself, although witnessed by hundreds of people, feels incredibly intimate & is full of customs & rituals from the Greek Orthodox Church.  Stefana (wedding crowns) are held above the Bride & Groom’s head & exchanged again 3 times.  The Stefana, which often bears embroidered flowers, are linked by a ribbon which symbolises the Bride & Groom’s union.  Candles also play a large part in a Greek wedding.  One for the Bride & one for the Groom, they represent the ‘light of Christ’ who is welcomed into their future lives together.

During a Greek wedding, the priest runs through a number of rituals, including the joining of the Bride & Groom’s hands, the offering of wine in the common cup, which the Bride & Groom sip, yes you guessed it, 3 times.  The Bride & Groom then take their ceremonial walk around the table 3 times to signify the start of their journey ahead.  It is a truly wonderful service delivered with the utmost respect & sincerity.

Greek Wedding Reception

Whilst a Greek wedding may be quite formal & quiet, a Greek Wedding Reception in contrast is an incredibly loud & joyful celebration.  Fun, fun, fun is the order of the evening.  Complete with lavish banquet & of course the all-important Greek dancing!

As is tradition for most cultures the guests are seated first.  The Bride & Groom are announced into their banquet by their violinist who walks a short way ahead of them playing traditional music.  They walk around the dance floor 3 times & then take their place at their table.  Their announcement is then followed by napkin games & an incredible amount of feasting.  Speeches also form part of the Reception but then it’s time for dancing!

If you’ve ever seen the film ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ you will know how amazing a Greek wedding can be!   It’s no exaggeration!  It’s totally bonkers & an incredible experience.  One of the outstanding memories that I will take from this special day was witnessing & documenting Sian & Yiorgos’ money dance.  No gift lists here!   Guests bring their gifts in the form of cash which is pinned to each of the Bride & Groom to wish them well.  It’s said that if any money lands on the floor it belongs to the band!  The money that remains on the Bride & Groom at the end of the dance is theirs!  LOVE that tradition!

The music provided by the Odyssey Greek Band (see link below) played long into the night.  We left around 10:00 p.m. with the party in full swing!   Here’s a few of our favourite images to give you a flavour.

I hope you enjoyed this blog which provides a small insight into our First ‘Big’ Greek Wedding.  We hope to cover many more.

In closing, I wanted to say a huge thank you.  Firstly to Sian & Yiorgos for appointing us as their official wedding photographers.  The newly weds loved their wedding images which is always a great feeling!  Also a big thanks to our videography colleagues, Cut the Cake Films, who we always enjoy working with.  The dream team strikes again!  The day was a huge success for us all.  Most of all it was an amazing wedding day for Sian & Yiorgos.

Lots of love,  Lee,  Blushing Bride Photography xx

Suppliers Links (the ones we know about!) as follows:

Videographers = Cut the Cake Films

Make Up Services = Kent Make Up by Jo

Sian’s Wedding Dress = The Crystal Fairy Company

Band = Greek Odyssey Band