Wedding Traditions and Customs in Cyprus

In Cyprus we have a variety of wedding traditional customs. Most Cypriots are Greek Orthodox, few of them are Catholic. When a couple becomes engaged the parents of the groom and the bride are gathering to the bride’s house and bless the couple over food and wine.

There are two kinds of weddings, town weddings and village weddings. It’s important to decide where the wedding is going to take place. Village weddings are still taking place many times in Cyprus. At village weddings the dress of the bride needs to be more conservative, anything flashy would be unacceptable, and it is preferable for the top of the arms to be covered. At town weddings any kind of evening dress, sort or long, is acceptable. For the groom a dark suit with collar and tie is just fine.

The wedding starts at the groom’s house with musical instruments playing traditional songs for the groom. The same happens to the bride’s house also before they start for the church. The Bride and the Groom sometimes arrive at the church together.Usually here in Cyprus the groom waits outside the church with the bride’s bouquet and the bride’s father walks her daughter to the church. In a village they will arrive on foot, but in a town they will use cars, limousines or horse drawn carriages. Guests wait outside for the couple to arrive Parents of the bride give the bride away outside the church. The bride and groom walk up the aisle together, both sets of parents stand with the couple and the mystery begins.

Bread takes a special place at the wedding. Glistarkes are made for treating guests and koulouria are used as decoration. Prosfora are baked and taken to the church to be used in the wedding ceremony with koumandaria, a kind of red Cypriot wine.

During the ceremony the priest is going to give bread to the couple to eat and wine to drink three times which symbolizes the marriage of Cana at Galilee, which was blessed by Christ and where he converted water into wine.

The rings are placed on the right hand because it is the right hand of God that blesses. The bride and the groom wear headbands called stefana and the chief bridesmaid with the best man are interchanging the crowns on the couple’s heads. In traditional Greek Cypriot weddings stefana were made with olive tree branches and with this way God’s blessings were transmitted to the couple. The wedding rings, which are worn on the right hand, forth finger, are exchanged three times. The priest leads the couple round the table three times on which are placed the Gospel and the Cross. Koumbaros (best man) and Koumbara (chief bridesmaid) are walking behind the married couple holding stefana in place. This called the dance of Isaiah.The priest blesses the couple and removes the crowns (stefana) and asks God to grand the couple a long, happy life together. After this the priest separates the couples joined hands, showing them that only God can separate the couple from one another.

 The bride and the groom are officially married.Koufetta (sugared almonds) are given to the guests showing the unity of the couple. Leaving the church people are dropping rice to the couple wishing them to make children soon and be happy.