Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I Still Wanna Be Greek

When last I left you, B and I were headed to McDonald's to get a Coke after the wedding. My blood sugar had dropped significantly from all that standing up and from the the very little sitting down. I was parched and getting a headache.

Aren't I a fun date?

Besides, we had a little time, so we acted like our parents and drove around a little bit, stopping for that much-needed Coke. Diet for him; regular for me. Ahhhh, nothing like a cold McDonald's Coke over ice to make a girl feel better. And I did, by the time we got to . . .

The Reception

While standing in the receiving line, we overheard the groom telling someone to make sure we were at the reception right when it started because there would be a big surprise. Curious, we did just what he said. (Never mind the fact that we are always early to EVERYTHING.)

When the doors to the reception room were opened, this is what we saw.

Sorry about the blurry pictures--I'm not professional--but hopefully you can get a sense of the sweets table. This table was over 15 feet long and laden, LADEN I TELL YOU!, with Greek pastries of every possible kind. I have never in my life seen anything like it, and for a girl with a sweet tooth like I have, I was in hog heaven. (Is that a proper term for a wedding? I don't know.)

I was ready to skip the dinner portion altogether and just get to the sweets table.

But, of course, we didn't skip dinner. Who would? What with the Greek soup (oh my yum!) and the salad (I can always take or leave a salad--just not my thing) and the fillet Mignon with grilled prawns and the flaming cherries jubilee! Yes, they even had a separate dessert before we got to the sweets table.

Whew!! My head was spinning after all that food wonderfulness.

(This is just a random picture of our table, but I thought it was cool that each table was strewn with rose petals. Sweet, huh?)

It took about an hour and a half to get through dinner because between each course two people would stand up to give speeches. Let me tell you, these speeches were delightful. We learned all sorts of interesting things about the bride and groom, none of which shall be revealed here since I don't even know these people. At all.

But let's just say that the speeches were sweet. I think my favorite speeches were from the groom and the bride. Both of them started out by saying that they wanted to thank God first for bringing them together. Like I mentioned in yesterday's post, there was such a sense that this was, first and foremost, a spiritual union. A God-ordained marriage. And that sense carried through to the reception. I loved that.

Well, after much speech-giving, hugging, kissing (lots and lots of kissing--and I'm not talking about the bride and groom. Those Greeks just love to kiss!), eating, and drinking, we finally got to the sweets table. Let me just tell you that it did not disappoint. B and I loaded our plates because it all looked so good and we figured that we didn't know anybody there (well, at least I didn't) so who cared?! It was insanely decadent, but so, so good.

As I was standing there contemplating whether I should take a second plate, I saw an older gentleman walking around the table with a styrofoam "to-go" container. I nearly stabbed a woman to death with my fork as I ran to ask him where he got that. His Greek accent was so thick I could barely understand him, but I think he told me to ask the waiter.

I practically sprinted back to my table to ask our waiter for a "to-go" container. My girls just HAD to see some of these amazing sweets which, by the way, were all--each and every one of them--homemade. Yes, friends, all of the Greek thias and ya yas were busy the week of the wedding baking their particular specialty for the bride and groom. Each piece of baklava was baked to perfection. The little powdered sugar-covered cookies melted in my mouth. And the peanut butter balls were decorated to perfection.

It was an amazing sight. I SO wanted to be Greek when I saw that table.

I know, I know, enough about the sweets table. Next came, what else?, the dancing. This was not your Brittany Spears/Justin Timberlake/Michael Jackson dance mix spun by a Rock 'n Roll D.J. Oh no. This was GREEK MUSIC. And, oh, was it fun.

The only song that was what you might call "modern" song was the first dance of the bride and groom. They danced to "Lucky" by Jason Mraz and Cobie Caillat which is such a sweet song. It was a perfect first dance.

But other than that little contemporary interlude, we were livin' in Greek town. The music was fun, the dancing was lively. And nobody cared if we didn't know how to do whatever it was they were doing because everybody was just having fun.

At one point I saw someone throw a fistful of rose petals onto the bride, and I thought, "Oh, how sweet. They're throwing blessings on her." I knew what the rose petals meant by then. No pulling one over on me now.

But later, when things got going a little bit, I noticed that people were throwing something else.

Yes, I once again witnessed something I've never seen at a wedding before. Dollar bills. People were throwing wads of cash at the bride and groom! I'm guessing that signifies prosperity, but clear me up if I'm wrong about that. I never asked anyone what it meant for sure.

So all-in-all, I'd have to say that was the most fun I've ever had at a wedding. Hands down. Those Greeks not only know how to party, they know how to eat and how to kiss and how to make even us non-Greeks feel most welcome in their setting. It was a true celebration--the kind that every parent would want to send their child off with. This reception was full of fun, but also full of symbolism and most definitely full of love.

I so want to be Greek.

P.S. (O.K., just because I promised you yesterday . . . here you go!)


  1. The story behind the money on the floor? I learned this from a Greek DJ, "At this point, a very traditional Greek song is played called: 'Orea Poune E Niphee Mas' ('How Beautiful Our Bride Is'). As it is played, the entire bridal party forms a large half circle on the dance floor and the bride leads the dance. We ask the guests, in both Greek and English, for a round of applause to honor the bride on her wedding day. As she is dancing around the floor, relatives and friends of the family come up to the bride with hands full of dollar bills – sometimes 10s, 20's and occasionally even 50s – and toss the bills high in the air so they shower down on the bride. There can be many hundreds of dollars on the floor at the end of the song, depending on the size of the wedding. After the bride makes a full turn around the dance floor, the groom dances a full turn around the floor and more money is thrown. After the Koumbara, Koumbaro, parents and bridal party dances, even more money is showered on the new couple.” And the sweets? The same DJ says, "the biggest tradition at Greek weddings is the dessert table. It is always piled high with traditional Greek sweets such as baklava, galaktobouriko, melomakarona, kourambiethes, koulourakia, diples, and much, much, more.”

  2. You captured the event to perfection! I felt like I had participated, too!

  3. Well, Mr. Brown, aren't you a wealth of information today?! Thanks for sharing that--it sure was interesting.

    Lisa and Mom, it really was fun. I want to do it again next weekend!

  4. Sounds like a lot of fun and a learning experience all in one. Great story, Shelly!

  5. What a fun experience!!! --I know this was not the point of your posting, but there is nothing like a REAL coke from McDonalds! (I am a diet girl normally) I heard they even have their own special blend.

  6. How can any other wedding stand up to that?! It sounds amazing. I laughed out loud about the part with the take out container for the sweets table!

  7. Great retelling! Makes me want to plan mine over again!

  8. OOPA!!!!!Yasso!!!!!!! Hi Shelley, my name is Adam, and a friend of your mom and dad here in Oro Valley, and I am Greek. I really
    enjoyed your article and thoughts about my culture. It was well written and I really enjoyed it. I'm so glad that you had a great time. Most of my "Xeno" friends also had wonderful experiences, however, never wrote about them. I hope we meet on your next trip here and I look forward to perhaps making a Greek dish that you would enjoy. Say hi to Paige for me, such a delight and what a golfer. Tell her I want my money she won from me . Ha.....
    Till we meet,

    Be well,


  9. Adam! Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and to leave a comment for me. I hope we can meet at Christmastime, and I'll definitely be taking you up on the Greek food!

  10. Great story, Shelly!!! You truly do have such a way of making us feel like we are sharing the experience with you. The makings of a great writer, indeed!

    I've been to Greek weddings (and many Italian ones!) and they are truly a ton of fun. The Italians also have a sweet table, before, during or after, the main dessert. It must be the Meditteranean thing. :-)

    And Mr. Brown, you are a treasure trove of information. Thanks for adding the color commentary. :-)

  11. Okay, so I was SO ready to jump on you for not posting a picture of YOU dancing. :)

    Sounds wonderful. I love baklava. . .and this made me want some. :)

  12. Thank you for taking me as your guest. Now please mail me a to-go box! LOL.