I have performed lots of ceremonies in forests with sea views, beautiful villas, olive groves and beaches. Many couples like the idea of including some traditional Greek wedding customs into their day. Now, in addition to performing weddings here I create personal wedding ceremonies for couples marrying abroad or at a private venue in the UK and Worldwide. This is the beauty of having a simple marriage followed by a wedding celebration ceremony of your own because you can incorporate whatever you like! Here is Bride Buddy's guide to some of the most popular Mediterranean wedding customs and remember that Bride Buddy Ceremonies creates unique personal wedding ceremonies to make your celebration especially significant to you both.
Greece: Couples exchange a spoonful of honey during the ceremony to signify the start of a sweet life together. It can get a bit gooey on a hot day, but it is still fun watching the groom desperately trying not to drip any on the bride's dress! There is another custom involving 'crowns' which are usually pretty flower and ribbon rings that are exchanged during part of the ceremony.
The groom gets his first and then there is a blessing which is recited 3 times. The bride goes next and receives her crown and the blessing is again recited 3 times. Quite often the 2 crowns are joined together with ribbon as a symbol of unity and after the blessings they are interchanged 3 times to seal the union.
Italy: Traditions here can vary according to region but all across Italy it is common for the groom to carry a piece of iron in his pocket to ward off bad luck. I can't help having visions of the groom getting stuck to his car by his pocket and trying to release the magnetism! Sunday is the most favoured, luckiest day of the week to get married. It is an old custom for the groom to serenade his bride the evening before the wedding and nowadays it is regarded as an opportunity for both families to get together the night before and enjoy food, music and each other's company. This sounds like great fun and a chance to hear the talents of the groom's voice. The groom also has to job of paying for his brides bouquet. It is seen as the final present to his girlfriend before she becomes his wife.
Croatia: There are lots of fun traditions you can choose to add to your day from this beautiful country. On the day, the first thing the groom must do is visit his parents in law and buy his bride! He usually takes a group of friends and musicians and performs tricks to show his future in laws his strength by lifting heavy objects and doing push ups.
As he offers them money (never taken of course) a 'fake' bride is often brought out to him (maybe granny or uncle dressed up with a veil) to try and trick the groom, but eventually the family believe the groom's love and devotion and allow the union to go ahead. There is often a flag bearer at the head of the procession to church inviting people along to make sure everyone has a good time and small bundles of rosemary are given to guests in exchange for donations to the newlyweds.
Portugal: It is customary for the groom and all the guests to be at the church while the bride makes her own way on foot through the village so everyone can admire her and wish her well. It is also seen as good luck to get married the same week as your partner's birthday, or better still, on their birthday itself. Instead of throwing rice or confetti it is traditional in Portugal to throw flowers and sweets, and there is the 'money dance' which involves the young men paying for the privilege of a dance with the bride as her shoe is passed around and stuffed with money - handy if you are a size 9!
Morocco: Now I wouldn't mind a little traditional Moroccan wedding tradition even if I say so myself! Two days before the wedding it is customary for the bride, her girlfriends and relatives to visit the Moroccan sauna for a full on pampering session. It is usual for all the female attendees to help and it is seen as a rite of purification. Next the girls all set about decorating your hands and feet with beautiful henna designs. The geometric and floral patterns are meant to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck and fertility. The groom's name is secretly written and hidden within the design and the best tradition states that the bride does not have to do any housework until the henna has faded!
France: Quite laid back about gender specific roles at weddings, the bride is never meant to be centre of attention. In France it is all about the union of two families. It is usual for the groom not to have a wedding ring but be given a special gift from the bride herself. The groom normally collects the bride from her home and as they walk together to their wedding it is traditional for children to hold white ribbons across their path. The bride must cut her way through to prove she can cope with whatever married life will throw at her.
The French do not have best men or bridesmaids but rather, choose friends as witnesses to the marriage. There are two superb ways to get a wow factor for your French wedding and the first is the traditional champagne glass fountain, and there is no traditional wedding cake here 'my cherie.' We have instead the croquembouche. A giant pyramid of what you or I would call profiteroles! It comes from an old custom where each guest would bring a small cake, and these cakes would just be piled up on top of each other. The fillings and toppings are endless. This link to Pinterest shows so many different croquembouche, I had to let you know about it as I just love profiteroles!
Spain: In Spain it is quite traditional to include orange blossom into your bouquet, and to wear an embroidered veil called a 'mantilla'. Like in France, there are no best men or bridesmaids, and the groom is escorted into the ceremony by his mother followed by the bride with her father. Both parents stand beside their children throughout the ceremony. In Spain the wedding rings should be of matching gold and they are worn on the right hand, not on the left as in the UK. It is an old custom for the groom to give his bride 13 gold coins as a gift to symbolise their commitment to each other and to share all that they have. More often nowadays though, the couple just exchange the coins together. Overall, Spanish weddings are meant to be large and lavish affairs and the guests are expected to give money as gifts. I guess the more guests there are, the more 'gifts' you will receive!
Here are just a few ideas to help you think about including in your ceremony if you are planning a wedding in any of these beautiful countries. Local wedding traditions help to bring unique personal touches to your ceremony and make it a day to truly remember for everyone!