You know how one of the "themes" of my blog is that "Everyday is an adventure"? Well, B and I sure had one super-duper adventure on Sunday. We attended our very first big, fat, Greek wedding.
I sure hope it wasn't our last, 'cause boy, was that fun! I now officially want to be Greek.
It's hard to know where to begin with describing this event, so I guess I'll just start at the beginning.
We were invited to this wedding by the groom who works with B. He was actually quite surprised when he learned that we were planning to attend the ceremony. I guess he thought we'd just show up for the party afterward.
But this was going to be the real-deal, and we wanted to experience it all. I'm so glad we did. We entered this beautiful Greek Orthodox church shortly before the ceremony and took in a deep breath at the elaborate mosaics (or were they painted?) all around the church from the front of the church to the ceiling. All of the apostles were represented--twice!--and a huge painting of Jesus adorned the top of the domed ceiling, like He was looking down on us.
The ceremony was performed mostly in Greek. Yep, that's right. We didn't understand a word of this ceremony (except for the couple of parts that were actually spoken in English, but even then the priest had such a thick Greek accent that I could barely tell he was speaking English). Thankfully there was a program with a description of each section of the ceremony.
Most people might think the ceremony was long--it was about an hour long--and especially grueling because we stood for most of it. (They did let us sit down three times for about five minutes each time, but otherwise we were standing.) I was so intrigued by the symbolism of each part of the ceremony, however, that I found the time went very quickly.
All I can say is that the Greek Orthodox wedding ceremony is beautiful. The symbolism is rich and meaningful. The sung/spoken liturgy was mesmerising. And even though I didn't understand much of it, I found I stayed with it the entire time.
Here are a couple of quotes from the program that I found especially interesting:
"Since this union of J and A is a special measure of grace granted by the Holy Spirit, they will not bestow spoken vows to each other." At first I thought this was kind of strange--I've never been to a wedding that didn't include vows. But as I sat through this ceremony, I got a real sense that this was a sacred event. That it was God who brought this couple together and only God who could separate them. And for some reason, it seemed like vows, human vows, didn't seem necessary.
One section of the service is called "The Joining of the Right Hands." During this rite, the right hands of the couple are joined together while the priest reads a prayer. Their hands are linked throughout the rest of the service "to symbolize the oneness of the couple." They took communion while still holding hands. And they walked around the main table three times, still holding hands. Their hands were only divided at the very end of the ceremony when the priest brought the Bible down between them, symbolizing that only God could break their bond.
I loved what the program said about the rite of the common cup. "The drinking of wine from the common cup serves to impress upon the couple that from that moment on they will share everything in life, joys as well as sorrows, and that they are to 'bear one another's burdens.' Their joys will be doubled and their sorrows halved because they will be shared." Isn't that beautiful? All that just from sharing a communion cup.
After the ceremony, we greeted the bride and groom and were handed a fistful of rose petals. B and I, being ignorant Xenos, just thought that was what they had chosen to throw, rather than rice or bird seed, but as we were waiting for the couple to come outside a woman came up to me, handed me her rose petals, and asked me if I would throw her blessings on the couple for her since she had to leave. I'm so glad she did that or otherwise we wouldn't have known the significance of the rose petals.
Everything about the ceremony had meaning, and I thought that was pretty special.
Since this post is getting about as long as the wedding ceremony I've just described, I think I'll hold off on describing the reception until tomorrow. You'll definitely want to come back because you just might get to see a picture of yours truly dancing Greek-like.
You wouldn't want to miss that now, would you?