1. Wedding Wreaths
There are some local wedding customs and traditions in many countries that go back centuries. Greece is no different. In the Orthodox church ceremony, two white circlets called stephani (meaning ‘wreath’) which are joined together by a ribbon, symbolising the unity of the couple. They are placed on the bride and groom’s heads by the priest during what is known as the ‘crowning ceremony’. There is much other symbolism contained in the stephana (pl), such as the crowning of the couple by Christ via the priest. The exchanging of the stephana from bride to groom three times by the best man (or woman), the koumbaro(a) seals the union. During our wedding, even though we married in England, we had stephana at our ceremony, swapped on our head by our koumbara
2. Throwing Rice
When leaving the church guests throw a handful of rice on the couple’s heads which is symbolic for the good roots of the marriage.
3. Parading the Dowry
For many decades now, most weddings in Greece are no different from anywhere else. For most, the traditional “Greek wedding” seems more and more like a distant memory. But there are some regions in Greece where old customs and more picturesque weddings still happen. In order to still see that kind of old fashioned wedding, one has to go to the small towns on Mount Olympus (like Livadi or Agios Demetrios), or the rural regions around Ioannina, and of course the islands. Even then, it is getting rarer and rarer. Old tradition dictates that the procession to the church is escorted by a horse carrying the bride’s most valuable belongings and embroidery, which are proudly displayed. Accordion and clarinet always prevail in the traditional wedding parties in Greece, as these customs derive from medieval Greece and Byzantium.
4. Wedding Favours
At the wedding reception it is traditional to give wedding favours known as bonboniera. These are usually bags or boxes filled with sugared almonds (koufeta). The white of the almond is for purity, the almond’s egg shape represents fertility, and the hardness of the nut personifies the endurance of marriage. The sweet sugar is symbolic of the sweetness of married life.The number of koufeta should be 5, symbolising health, joy, fertility, prosperity and longevity. Sometimes the number is more or less but always an odd number, which is not divisible by 2 and therefore representing the fact that the couple cannot be split up. Ideally the number should be a prime number - divisible by 1 and itself - symbolising that the couple can only be separated by death or themselves.
5. Traditional Treats
During the reception pasteli may be eaten. This delicious snack is made from honey and sesame seeds. We tried some at the Apolloniatisses bakery in Rhodes - and brought some home as it was so yummy.
In Crete another tradition is to decorate the wedding table with special decorative bread called Xóbliastres. At one time this would have been to feed the whole village but in modern times it is purely decorative rather than edible.
6. Pinning Money on the Bride & Groom
Of course most people have heard of the pinning of money onto the bride’s dress instead of giving wedding gifts at Greek weddings. It is still a common practice in Greek communities around the world, although probably not so much in Greece. Unfortunately nobody did this at our wedding!
7. Plate Smashing
Although a tradition which people associate with Greek celebrations, the “Breaking of the Plates”, which once implied abundance, to symbolize good luck and happiness, is now considered to be in very bad taste. It is also officially discouraged by the authorities as being dangerous in most regions of Greece.
Dreaming of a 'big fat' Greek wedding or a small, intimate event? We can help you incorporate some of these traditions and customs into your dream wedding in Greece if you wish. Contact Sarah today to arrange your free consultation. We'll create the perfect celebration in magical Greece.
After you've said “I do” and set the date, one of the best parts of planning a wedding is dreaming of the honeymoon to follow. It will be your first holiday together as a married couple and you'll want it to be memorable. Here are some luxury destination ideas to get excited about.
Singapore is full of romance with memorable sightseeing spots you can explore arm in arm with your loved one. It has outstanding dining options, world-class nightlife and a safe and pleasant environment for an exciting honeymoon experience.
There is a huge range of top quality hotels in Singapore, many boasting spas. Book a couple's spa experience for the ultimate romantic treat. Try the historic Fullerton, iconic Raffles or the elegance of the Shangri-La. For more modern luxury pick the Ritz-Carlton Millenia or the Four Seasons.
Whether you are looking for a relaxing or action-packed holiday, Singapore has it all. Walk together through the wonderful Gardens by the Bay or chill out on the beach at Sentosa Island. Visit Universal Studios for an adrenaline fix or take a night safari to get up close to leopards and other nocturnal animals.
Romance is in the air at a rooftop bars. Get stunning views and first class dining at 1-Altitude at Raffles Place. Enjoy cocktails mixed by award winning mixologists at the CE LA VI skybar at the Marina Bay Sands, a microbrewery overlooking the city.
There are so many dining opportunities you'll be spoilt for choice. Take a trip on Singapore's cable car. Step into your very own private cabin and enjoy spectacular views of the city as you share a delicious 4-course meal. Grab a snack from a Hawker stall or choose fine dining in a huge array of top class hotels and restaurants. Don't forget to try Chinese and Malaysian cuisine or take a cookery lesson together.
Singapore is a buzzing and cosmopolitan city and is the perfect choice for the honeymooning couple.
A honeymoon in the Maldives gives you a chance to be together in a way that never happens at home. The name means ‘garland of islands’ in Dhivehi, the local language and evokes the wonder of this collection of magical islands. Overwater bungalows or villas in amongst the lush vegetation provide private love nests, secluded for maximum privacy and romance. Gaze from the veranda or the plunge pool across the panoramic views over the lagoon lapping the beach. The breeze rustling the palm fronds seems to whisper romance.
Each resort is on its own island so there are no strangers and the staff care for their guests in their private world. Crystal clear lagoons, white sand beaches and colourful coral reefs are standard in the Maldive islands. Exclusive upgrades, candlelit dinners under starry skies and bespoke experiences-for-two can be arranged to give your married life an amazing start.
Taj Exotica Resort and Spa for the lap of luxury on Emboodhu Finolhu island in the middle of one of the largest lagoons in Maldives. Just a 15-minute speedboat ride from the airport brings you to this idyllic resort, amidst the coral reefs.
On a private island in heart shaped Addu Atoll stands Shangri-La's Villingili Resort & Spa, an exclusive all-villa hideaway. Just 5 minutes by speedboat from the airport, the resort offers a range of activities, totally romantic dining experiences and the only 9-hole golf course in the Maldives.
One & Only Reethi Rah on one of the largest islands in North Malé Atoll. Enjoy a Thai massage over the water in the resort's award winning spa or revel in the marine life assisted by their Dive Centre. Dine in restaurants with stunning views or experience awe-inspiring private dining.
You can be as active or relaxed as you wish; swimming, snorkelling, diving or night fishing. Take a champagne sunset cruise, picnic on a sandbank and visit a desert island for just the two of you for a day. Explore the undersea world in a whale submarine or see the reefs from a seaplane. The islands have fragile eco systems so do your bit for responsible tourism and join in a coral-planting session or plant a commemorative coconut palm.
With so many picture perfect and romantic destinations in Australia, it is the perfect choice for a relaxing honeymoon to recharge your batteries. With such a huge country to discover, the range of scenery and experiences are second to none. From the World Heritage site of the Great Barrier Reef to the Red Centre, the outback, and the bustling cities, love-struck newlyweds can drink in the beautiful landscapes and revel in warm hospitality Australia has to offer.
The Whitsunday Islands
With pristine beaches and teeming with colourful marine life, Hamilton Island is paradise on earth. One of the Whitsunday Islands in Queensland, it offers good weather year round and some outstanding accommodation. At the northern tip of Hamilton Island, qualia is a completely private hideaway situated within the Great Barrier Reef. Only one island away from the brilliant white sands of Whitehaven Beach, Hamilton Island is the perfect location for exploring one of the most beautiful parts of Australia, or for a barefoot chill-out.
For a city-centric honeymoon, Melbourne is a vibrant and bustling destination. With its quaint alleys and cafe-filled lanes and historic buildings, Melbourne enchants. Activities abound: watching movies under the stars; taking a gourmet boat trip; private wine tasting tours, romantic strolls around the Botanical Gardens; or visits to museums and galleries, Melbourne has it all. It is also one of the culinary hubs of Australia, so you'll be spoilt for choice with restaurants, cafes, wine bars and micro-breweries. Treat yourself to butler service at The Langham for the ultimate stay in Melbourne.
For foodies you could not pick a better location for your honeymoon than the Barossa Valley. A region full of farms and wineries, the Barossa is one of the best places in Australia to sip a glass of wine. The locals are very welcoming and friendly in the Barossa and you can also enjoy many festivals like the Barossa Gourmet Weekend, Barossa Vintage Festival and so much more. Recharge your senses at 1860 Wine Country Cottages where you can walk hand-in-hand in the quiet countryside or experience their Boutique Wine and Food Trails. Relaxing and laid back, a honeymoon in the Barossa Valley is a unique experience.
'Found in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, heavenly Hawaii offers a breathtaking honeymoon to romantic newlyweds. Consisting of six unique islands, Hawaii invites you to experience distinct adventures, activities and sights. From the hustle and big surf of Oahu to the pineapple plantations and volcano views of Maui, to the coffee farms of Hawaii (big island) to the dramatic scenery of Kauai, Hawaii gives honeymooners a huge choice of amazing holidays.
On Maui you can experience a huge variety of scenery and climates on such a small island. When I visited this magical island we stayed in the historic Lahaina area where it rarely rains but visited tropical Hana after a picturesque and memorable drive, discovered British looking meadows on our way to Haleakala National Park - a barren volcanic landscape. Take part in the Old Lahina Luau or try Maui wines at Ulupalakua Vineyards and visit one of the many excellent restaurants. Explore this fabulous island from the Four Seasons Resort Maui on Wailea Beach. Unwind in style on a Maui honeymoon.
The third largest island of Hawaii, Oahu is sometimes called "The Gathering Place" and it lives up to the name as it houses the capital, Honolulu, and is the most populous island of the group. A honeymoon on Oahu gives lovers a great balance between buzzing metropolis and laid back surf resorts. Its a fascinating island with so much to experience, like the Dole Plantation, where you can eat the best pineapple you ever had! Don't forget to sample a delicious cocktail, the Mai Tai took its current form in 1954 at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in iconic Waikiki. While you're in Waikiki you can climb Diamond Head, an extinct volcano which has been used as a military base. The amazing views from the top are worth climbing all those stairs.
For the best surf in the world head to the North Shore where you'll find the famous Banzai Pipeline - best leave the surfing to the professionals as it can be dangerous for the inexperienced but its great to watch. I found the Polynesian Cultural Center fun as well as fascinating and you can also sit where Elvis did on the base of the double palm from Blue Hawaii! No visit to Oahu would be complete without a sobering visit to Pearl Harbour. Oahu really does have something for everyone.
Escape to the "Garden Island", Kauai is the northernmost island in the Hawaiian chain. When you see the emerald valleys, sharp mountains and cliffs carved by the elements, Kauai will take your breath away. With tropical rainforests, rivers and waterfalls it is not surprising that the island offers so many outdoor pursuits. Kayaking, hiking and ziplining are available. Discover the Wailua River, Poipu Beach and Kokee State Park. Head to the South Shore for Old Koloa Town, a historic and charming town which was built on sugar production, which explains the vibrant multi-cultural population of the town today.
Although Kauai is full of resorts, golf, shopping, beaches and sights, there are many places which are only accessible by air or sea, ensuring that it cannot be overdeveloped. If you want an active honeymoon in beautiful scenery, look no further than Kauai.
For more information on any of these amazing destinations or to book your honeymoon, get in touch with our travel specialists today.
If you love the Yuletide and can't get enough of the baubles, bells and twinkling lights, then a Christmas wedding is just right for you! Here’s some inspiration for decking those wedding halls and being very jolly.
Although not a common one, if you love Christmas it can be a knockout wedding theme. There is so much scope to let your imagination run riot, cuddle up in the cold weather and ramp up the romance by lighting up the darkness.
Winter wonderland wedding
Fill your mood board with shades of white to fit your style. Creams and pinky whites will soften the look of your wedding decor. Table linen, drapery and chairs can all be white but you can change up the look with textured fabric. Accents of colour can be introduced in ribbons or bows and add greenery or white flowers to complete your winter wonderland look. And don’t forget a bit of sparkle with some metallic details to be bang on trend.
Cool wedding colours
Choose red and green as your wedding colours if you are keeping it traditional. Bring these colours bang up to date with lots of elegant greenery and luxurious fresh flowers. If you want a more opulent touch, opt for rich shades of purple or burgundy. Mix your chosen statement colours with softer shades, such as peach, pink or creamy white. Share your colour scheme with your wedding planner or venue so they can bring it to life. They may well have some great suggestions for you too.
Christmas - woodland style
Think of Christmas and we think of trees. Create a wonderful woodland theme with lots of natural elements, like pinecones and green foliage. Like the song, there’s holly and there’s ivy but there is also mistletoe. These are the obvious choices but you could think about adding other evergreen boughs and seasonal greenery. Delicate white blooms such as snowdrops and lilies add a wintery touch to a woodland theme. For your bouquet add a splash of colour with berries and pine cones to contrast with pale foliage and white flowers.
Dressing for a Christmas wedding
Here at Tasteful Travel we absolutely adore winter weddings. They are always filled with sleek white colour schemes, have imaginative décor and a stunning winter wedding dress. Winter weddings need dresses that will keep you warm but still be dreamy. Long sleeves are not always necessary if you choose a beautiful bolero, jacket, shawl, shrug or cape to go over the dress. Think about delicate embellishment, a touch of crystal, metallic accents or a touch of colour for the perfect Christmas wedding gown.
Location, location, location
Where will you tie the knot at Christmas? Either you head for a snowy destination or you create your winter wonderland wherever you choose. Lapland is the most Christmassy destination you can think of and there is great skiing to go with your wedding in Switzerland, Austria, Greece and so many European destinations. Further afield marry during a white Christmas in New Zealand, California and Japan.
Even in the hottest of destination weddings the winter theme can be brought to the proceedings with baubles, white flowers, candles and metallic accessories. And the same can be said for any venue closer to home. At Tasteful Travel we love to find the perfect destination wedding for our clients at any time of year so why not contact us for more inspiration.
With the magic of Christmas sprinkled through your wedding flowers, bridal wear and decor, you are sure to have a very special day. Extra little touches can be added by way of your wedding favours. Wrap them up like little Christmas presents or miniature stockings. Treat your guests to shortbread or gingerbread, small bottles of mulled wine or anything else Christmassy. Use sticks of cinnamon to decorate for an ultra wintery look. And finally, don't forget to choose your favourite Christmas tunes for the dance floor!
If you decide on a destination wedding, how do you know that all your family and friends are happy with your decision? Well, the simple answer is you can't. Pretty much every wedding ever planned has some kind of upset with family members or close friends getting distressed about the decisions made by the bride and groom. As Dr. Phil says "don't give others too much power". Seems to me that the best way forward is to try to please the majority whilst working towards the wedding of your dreams.
Unless there is a good reason to change your plans, such a sickness of a parent, if a wedding abroad is what you really want then stick to your guns. A good compromise is to have your wedding abroad and then have a big party back home for everybody who could not be there on your big day. I remember receiving a postcard from a friend saying "we tied the knot at Lake Louise" and when they returned to UK they invited everyone to a huge party and showed us the wedding video during the course of the evening. The bride wore her gown again, and a great time was had by all.
Although you won't have all of your loved ones around you on your wedding day, instead:
1) you will have guaranteed good weather (depending on the season of course)
2) get better value for money
3) less stress in the run up to the big day as your day is in the hands of an expert planner
4) greater control of your guest list (you won't be obliged to invited cousin Herbert who you don't like!)
5) smaller guest list means big savings
6) combining your wedding with your honeymoon can save you time and money
If you are planning your wedding and thinking of going abroad to get hitched, why not email our wedding planner today? We specialise in Greece, Malta and Australia but have partners worldwide to realise your dreams.
Personally I love late spring in Greece. May and June are the perfect months as everywhere is fresh green with masses of flowers. The smell of the air is so wonderful then.
It is always best to avoid the school holiday period, unless you like scorching heat coupled with inflated prices, packed streets and beaches. August is particularly busy because Greeks, along with other continentals, have the whole month off.
September is an excellent month for your wedding, with hot weather (but not sizzling!) and no crowds. October is the end of the season and so the weather starts to cool a little but is still likely to be delightful. If you have a hankering for a winter wedding then get married in the northern snows of Greece.
The main season in Greece runs from April to October. Hotels, restaurants, shops and other tourist attractions are usually closed outside of these months. Easter usually kicks off the season, although if this falls very early in March there may be few facilities open. This is mainly connected to weather conditions. Charter flights do not run to many Greek destinations in the winter, except to Athens and Thessaloniki. Many apartments do not have heating, so you can see why Greece has traditionally been a summer destination. Hotels, especially luxury properties, conference/event venues and ski hotels will of course have heating as well as air conditioning but not all find it financially viable to stay open for the winter season.
But times are changing. For marriages with style, you can now hold your wedding at any time of year in Halkidiki. Many 5 star hotels are now opening throughout the winter, targeting the spa break and events market. The region is easily reached from Thessaloniki airport, which is served by scheduled airlines as well as easyJet. Of course you could always take a helicopter or boat to your venue instead of going by road.
Being in close proximity to a large city, Halkidiki has the advantage over the islands. Suppliers of every kind are available all year round to create your dream occasion. So the answer to the question "what is the best time to get married in Halkidiki" is "anytime". The only decision you have to make is whether you want the heat and the bustle of summer, the beauty of the spring flowers or a winter wonderland wedding with snowy scenes and roaring fires.
For the very best wedding in Halkidiki tailored to your specific requirements, call Tasteful Travel's travel experts.