Wow, just wow! The Greeks really know how to party, especially where a wedding is involved!
Frieda asked that I come and take some pictures of her getting ready, she was worried when we arrived as she "hated" her hair and make up (said whilst hair and make up woman was doing it... risky!) but soon settled and, of course, looked stunning!
One of the traditions I researched after seeing her do it was her writing the names of her unmarried friends on the sole of her shoe
From what I understand this is one of the equivalents of our throwing the bouquet (when she also did!). The names rubbed off after the wedding and all the dancing at the party (and there is A LOT!) are the ones to get married next. Her father also put money in her shoe so she could start her married life on riches.
The next thing that happened was Paniotis came to greet her, this was when he gave her the engagement ring. I was unable to get near this to photograph alas as I was jammed in a doorway by the swathes of people who were gathering at the new apartment in order to watch the things that happened there and then join the procession to the church. Paniotis then lead Frieda out accompanied by the wine they would share in the wedding ceremony, the two decorated church candles and their Koumbaro (the best men... Frieda broke from tradition and had a male the role of her Maid of honour). Everyone else follows on and we all headed to the church. At this point I have to say that dress sense and the question of "what should I wear" are easily answered in Greece, it seemed what ever people felt happy and comfortable in. Some wore the clothes they would normally and some glammed up to the nines, what a wonderful eclectic mix!
When we all arrived at the church Frieda, Paniotis and the young gaggle of bridesmaids and page boys went one way whilst everyone else went the other. This meant Frieda and Paniotis were able to make a grand entrance!
The church had been beautifully decorated by the local florist all in their colour scheme of Red and White, just gorgeous!
The wedding ceremony itself takes 2 parts, The Service of Bethrothal and The Sacrement of Marriage.
The Service of Bethrothal consists of the priest blessing the rings which the groom's Koumbaro then swaps over 3 times to represent the trinity of Father Son and Holy Ghost. The Sacrement of Marriage is the vows, which in a Greek Orthadox church are said by the priest, the couples attendance together in church is enough to show their commitment of each other. This part of the ceremony includes the couple's right hands being tied together, it is also where the couple are crowned with (as in Frieda's wedding) Gold bands that are joined by a length of white silk ribbon. The Bride's Koumbaro then swaps these between their heads 3 times. The couple are then led on their first steps as a married couple around the altar by the priest and followed by the Koumbaro holding the ribbon. It is at this part of the ceremony that the couple are showered in rice and Sugared Almonds (ouch!):
Somewhat unusually (or so I am told) Frieda and Paniotis decided to have a line up at the altar of the church and once that was done they came out of the church to a huge cheer, red and white balloons, confetti canons and more rice being thrown... They looked so very happy together!
There was just time for a quick pastry (yum!) and then everyone headed home to change, have 5 minutes down time or a quick coffee for the night ahead. At 9.30pm we headed down to the Taverna hosting the evening festivities and squeezed onto a table (seating plans? What seating plans!) where we were treated to a feast of wine, more wine, feta cheese, salads and honey balls before the traditional Alonissos Wedding Dish came out, Goat and Spaghetti. Paul had spotted them cooking this on the drive down, they had taken over an empty lot behind the taverna. Huge vats cooking over open fires. It tasted fabulous as all the flavour of the goat had gone into the spaghetti... for those who haven't had goat it is a gamier version of lamb... YUM!
Then the dancing started! Frieda and Paniotis had had the first dance to a Non Greek tune of which none of us can remember. Then the Greek dancing was opened by Frieda and her father starting the traditional greek circle dance, they were soon joined by all the family and Yiannis was in the middle offering whisky to all and sundry!
We left at 12.40 when Clara started to get grouchy (Phoebe had fallen asleep in the pushchair about half an hour after arriving). Dad and Jane being adopted members of Frieda's family stayed longer, they think they left at around 3.30 - 4am. We have reports of some people not leaving until 8.30am! Now that is stamina!
Frieda and Paniotis have flown off on their honeymoon to Amsterdam (they didn't pick where they were going until they got to the airport, how is that for last minute?!) and I wish them well. It was a truly fabulous wedding and, so I am told, the most lavish the island has ever seen!