Cretan weddings usually follow certain customs and, although this is changing as young
Cretans in the towns follow more modern weddings styles, some traditions remain.

Some rituals and customs also vary from town to town and village to village throughout
Crete.

The Wedding Bed Ceremony

Known as 'To Krevati'  (the bed)
A night or two before a wedding takes place a Bed Ceremony may be held at the couple’
s new home. Family and friends gather while the marital bed is made up by young
unmarried girls.  The watching friends and relatives will often jokingly pull the sheets off
the bed so that the girls have to re make it numerous times.

When the adults decide that the bed is made to their satisfaction (when the joke is
over!) the sheets are then adorned with sugared almonds and petals. Following this a
baby or young child is rolled on to the bed for luck and to signal the couple’s future
fertility, then the guests throw money on to the bed for the couple.


The Greek Orthodox Church Wedding Ceremony

In the Orthodox church ceremony the groom arrives at the church with his best man
(koumbaros) and family and awaits his bride by the front of the church. He holds the
brides’ bouquet which he presents to her as she arrives and they walk into the church
together.  

Soon after the start of the ceremony the priest blesses the rings and places them on
their right hands.

Wedding crowns (stefana) which are joined by a ribbon are placed on the Bride and
Groom by the best man, who then stands behind the couple and interchanges the
crowns three times as a witness to the sealing of the union.

The couple also both drink from a goblet of wine, the ‘Common Cup’.

The wedding ends with the Ceremonial Walk. The priest, bride, groom and koumbaros
join hands and walk round in a circle three times. These are the couple’s first steps
together as a married couple. As they start the Ceremonial Walk the guests shower rice
over them.

The ceremony lasts about 45 minutes and at the end guests file past the bride and
groom in church to congratulate them. The parents and best man stand alongside them
and often one of them will be holding a tray ‘diskos’ to collect the guests’ wedding
present, an envelope of cash ‘fakelaki’.


The Reception

The wedding reception is usually held in the evening, and immediately after the late
afternoon/ evening wedding service. There is normally live Cretan (and Greek) music,
along with a feast of local food and wine.

Custom dictates that the bride will dance for much of the evening and traditionally the
guests take turns to dance with her, starting with the groom, then the best man and his
family.

Guests numbering 1000 or more are not unusual as the extended families and friends of
both the bride and groom are usually invited as well as the best man’s family and
friends, and sometimes even all the villagers too.

The best man is the guest of honour and is just as important as the Bride & Groom. He
will also invite many of his own family and friends – this can run into hundreds of guests
from the best man alone.

The large number of wedding guests can be seen to date back to when whole villages
and communities took part in local weddings in the village church and square, and the
custom of inviting most of the village and their families remains among farming
communities.

More ‘exclusive’ weddings among young professionals tend to be held  in expensive
restaurants or hotels but many of the traditions are still followed.

Others hold ‘closed’ weddings meaning that they will limit the number of guests and
invite only close relatives and friends.


Cretan Wedding Etiquette

It is customary to say na zisete (long life to you) to the Bride and Groom, and na zisoun
(long life to them) to the head members of the bride and groom’s families.

They may reply with “ sta dika sas” – literally meaning  ‘to yours’, i.e. here’s to your
wedding.
If you are married with children the reply will be ‘ston paidion sas’ – to your children’s
(wedding)!


Glossary
o gamos – the wedding
h nifi – the bride
o gambros – the groom
koumbaros / koumbara  - best man / best woman.  The wife of the best man is always
called the best woman – and vice versa.
To Krevati -  The bed ( Wedding Bed Ceremony)
to trapezi – the reception (literally meaning ‘the table’)
koufeta – sugared almonds
        Copyright 2004-2012  Carol Palioudaki.     Cretan Weddings    Getting married in Crete   www.livingincrete.net
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