Greek Wedding Traditions

In April 2002, an independent film starring an unknown actress was given a limited release. That film, which was made on a 5 million dollar budget, went on to earn 368 million dollars in box office revenue, making it the highest-grossing independent film ever and by most standards the most successful romantic comedy in movie history! What movie, you ask? My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

 

Filled with endearing characters and witty, comedic dialogue, it is easy to see why this film was a hit. But, what turned it into a worldwide phenomenon? Some of it had to do with timing – the movie went ‘viral’ before that word was part of our collective vocabulary – but we believe its enduring success stems from its universal themes surrounding love, family, friends, and they ways in which traditions are used to represent the things we value most.

 

As wedding florists and designers, we are granted the opportunity to learn about and witness so many beautiful wedding traditions. We recently helped design not one, but two Big, Beautiful Greek Weddings, so we thought it would be fun to share the history behind some of these time honored traditions. 

 


Image Courtesy of Ron Soliman Photojournalism

 

The Stefana  

According to The Knot, the Stefana is the focal point of the wedding ceremony. It represents the joining of the couple, and it acknowledges their role as the King and Queen of their home. It also symbolizes the hope they they will ‘rule’ their home with wisdom, justice, and integrity. In the same vein as the exchange of rings, the stefana, or wedding crowns, are blessed by the priest and passed between the almost-newlyweds three times before being placed on their heads.

 

Images Courtesy of Sarah DiCicco Photography

 

 Lambades

Widely known as lambades, the wedding candle is a very symbolic element of a Greek Orthodox ceremony.The candles that are used during the sacrament of the wedding serve as a symbol of purity and the way God will light the way for the couple.  The bride and groom each hold a lit candle during the sacrament to show their willingness to receive God’s blessing.

 

Images Courtesy of Ron Soliman Photojournalism

 

 

Koufetta

Another very popular tradition is to offer koufetta—fresh almonds with a sugar coating. The almonds themselves, which are hard, represent the challenges the couple may face in life, while the coating represents the sweet times and happiness the couple will share. According to Greek Weddings and Traditions, These almond treats are always given out in odd numbers because an odd number is indivisible, just as the bride and groom should always be undivided. Historically, they were placed on the marital bed the day before the ceremony; Today, they are often given to guests as a wedding favor – called a Bomboniere.

Image Courtesy of Sarah DiCicco Photography

 

Rice Shower

In the same vein, rice is also used in many Greek weddings. Rice, a symbol of fertility and prosperity, is often thrown at the couple as a way to wish them a happy and blessed life together!

 

    

Images Courtesy of Sarah DiCicco Photography

Image Courtesy of Ron Soliman Photography

 

Dancing

It’s not a Greek wedding without lots and lots of dancing!  Whether it is The Bride’s Dance, also known as the Kalamatianos, or the Sirtaki, these circle dances bring together friends and family to celebrate the union of the bride and groom.

One of the most famous dances is The “Money Dance”.  In some regions of Greece, money is pinned directly to the bride’s gown throughout the evening, but in most Greek American receptions, the money is commonly thrown on/near a dancing couple to wish them good fortune and prosperity.

 

 

Images Courtesy of Ron Soliman Photojournalism

Images Courtesy of Sarah DiCicco Photography

Bobby and Maria’s Wedding:
Reception Venue – The Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia
Reception Caterer – The Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia
Ceremony Venue – Saint George’s Greek Orthodox Cathedral
Event Lighting – Petals Lane
Band – Power Station Entertainment
Wedding Planner- Lauren James Events (LJ Events)
Event Designer – Petals Lane
Photographer – Sarah DiCicco
Cinematography – CinemaCake Filmmakers
Makeup Artist – Julie Kate & Co.
Hair Stylists – Jason Matthews Salon
Floral Designer – Petals Lane
Wedding Cake – Van Earl’s Cake

George and Amalia’s Wedding:
Reception Venue – Ballroom at the Ben
Reception Caterer – Finley Catering 
Floral Designer – Petals Lane
Photographer – Ron Soliman
Cinematography – Ron Adams
Wedding Cake – Finley Catering

Eleni’s Bridal Shower

We had the privilege to create some floral arrangements for Eleni, a beautiful bride-to-be, for her bridal shower recently! Held at the Overbrook Golf Club, the room and each decor piece within it were exquisitely matched to encompass the soft, romantic theme. Take a look below at some photos from the day. Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials, Eleni!

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All photos courtesy of Jessica Hendrix Photography. For more information, contact Jessica at (540) 907-6525.

Garces Foundation Gala

Jose and Beatriz Garces and the Garces Foundation held their third annual gala at The Kimmel Center on October 29. We were honored to provide the floral arrangements for the event and truly enjoy working with The Garces family. The atmosphere and ambience are always magnificent and the Foundation is a wonderful charity that benefits local residents in the Philadelphia community. For more information on the Foundation, please visit www.garcesfoundation.org. Check out some photos from the dinner below.

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All photos are courtesy of Susan Beard Design. For more information and to inquire about working with Susan, click here.

Wells Fargo Team Member Event

Earlier this week, we were invited to create some centerpieces and event decor for a gathering of Wells Fargo team members! It was held at the new Tesla Motors Service Center in Devon, PA and catered by the exquisite Garces Group. We opted for sunflowers to brighten the room, as they complimented the candy apple red Tesla on the showroom floor while guests were able to test drive a Tesla themselves! Jessica, a Garces pastry chef, displayed her talents as she made a deconstructed lemon blueberry pie (delicious is an understatement)! Take a look at this fun event below!

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Temple University 2014 Commencement Preview

Congratulations to the Class of 2014! We were honored to provide the floral displays for the Temple University Commencement events at the Liacouras Center. Stay tuned for an in-depth look into the creations made for the University’s 127th graduation ceremony!

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Temple University

(*Editor’s Note: This blog was published prior to the passing of Lewis Katz, pictured above. We would like to extend our deepest condolences to Mr. Katz’ family and loved ones, as well as the entire Temple University Community.)

University of Pennsylvania Engineering Event

We were delighted to create the floral decor for the University of Pennsylvania’s Engineering Event. We incorporated timely yellow centerpieces with hints of green, all of different heights that brightened the neutral room, which included transparent chiviari chairs and gray table runners. This earthy design was simple yet elegant for the occasion. If you are interested in floral design for your next wedding or event, contact us at weddingsandevents@petalslane.flywheelsites.com!

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Ribbon Cutting for the Kislak Center

A reception of 150 guests followed by a private dinner of 64 marked the naming of the Kislack Center on the 6th floor of the Van Pelt Library at The University of Pennsylvania.  Dr. Amy Gutmann spoke during the reception and ribbon cutting.  The design envisioned combined various shades of reds, burgundy’s and antique mercury silver glass; with candlelight to reflect and bounce through the design.  The table settings sat atop a mirrored table top providing a multi-dimension design for the flowing flowers.  With collaboration from Garces Caterings stunning menu, lighting and draping from Synergistic Sounds & Lighting and the linen/dishware/chairs from Party Rental, it was an elegant affair.

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