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.
First you are asked to be a bridesmaid, which is very exciting - all those bridal plans to discuss, dress fittings to attend and emotional support to provide. And then you get asked by the bride to be to plan her hen party! It’s a great honour but can seem daunting as you want to make your bestie’s hen do amazing. So we are here to help with ideas and tips to make the event a huge success.
To make a start it is always best to consider the type of person that the future bride is. What does she like to do? Is she an adrenaline junkie or more of a spa girl? Does she appreciate the finer things in life or prefers a few beers in the local pub? There are so many activities to choose from nowadays that there really is something for everyone. Just make sure you don’t spring a surprise on your friend than she might not like – always best to discuss your plans for her special party first. So that you don't miss any essential steps out of your planning download our handy Hen Party Planning Checklist .
Hen Party Ideas in the UK
Once a hen party was just a gathering of the bride to be, bridesmaids and the brides mother at the local pub. Now a hen party can be celebrated in a myriad of different ways. Here are some ideas to give you food for thought!
For a really interactive hen party experience why not try a wine tasting? From novice to wine connoisseur, there is a wine tasting for everyone. Take the classy route with a sparkling wine tasting and a vineyard tour or learn how to taste like a professional and join in a fun quiz.
Cheese & wine pairing
Already taken a wine tasting? Why not learn more about which cheese goes with which wine. Not only is it a delicious way to spend an afternoon or evening, it’s a great way of lining your stomach if you’re heading out to the clubs and bars afterwards!
Explore the magic of artisan chocolate making. Take a class led by an expert chocolatier and make choccy treats to eat and take home. The perfect choice for a hen with a sweet tooth.
For the future bride who enjoys the finer things in life and just wants to spend time chatting to her girlfriends over a great meal, what better choice than a Michelin starred lunch or dinner? Push the boat out in style and choose an ultimate dining experience.
If you love cooking or baking, this is a great choice for a hen party. You can have fun together in your pinnies and make something delicious to enjoy with your besties. Learn from professional chefs or expert bakers and learn recipes from your favourite cuisine.
Visit a distillery and enjoy a tasting with the experts. Learn about the aromats that go into gin, each imparting their own flavour. You could even get the chance to make your own unique bottle of gin to take away. A fun and fascinating hen party.
Spoil yourself and book the quintessential British treat, afternoon tea. Be waited on at a classy hotel or in a quaint tea room whilst enjoying patisserie delights with your chums. Add champagne for the ultimate indulgence.
Offering a bespoke service, Tasteful Travel can add any of these experiences to a UK short break in a location of your choice. Pair a foodie adventure with a spa weekend or a country cottage stay. So don’t delay, contact our hen party experts for a free consultation today.
Hen Party Ideas Abroad
Go to the home of the first ever hen parties. In Ancient Greece, there were three parts to marriage. Firstly the Proaulia, when the bride spent the last days before her wedding with her mother, female relatives and friends preparing for marriage. During this time the bride-to-be and her family made offerings to the gods and feasted. So you can see where the tradition for celebrating amongst girlfriends came from.
Nowadays there is a huge choice of hen party trips to Greece. From a relaxing spa break with the girls or an action-packed week of activities and experiences – think parascending and speedboats, think wine tasting, think waterparks, think sightseeing, think cookery lessons, think clubbing, think anything you wish.
Greece offers an amazing choice of scenery from its numerous picturesque islands to its bustling mainland cities. Choose Corfu for café culture or fun nightlife. Laze away the days on lovely Skiathos or Paros. Get caught up in the action on Kos and Rhodes. Or get your fix of metro sophistication in Thessaloniki or Athens. So much choice requires a bit of help to get the right hen do destination. Why not call the Tasteful Travel hen party experts for a free consultation.
Jet off to the sunny island of Malta and its crystal clear waters, great gastronomy, and excellent night clubs. What more could you wish for? The flight time is pretty good too. The country is made up for 3 islands, Malta, Gozo and Comino so boat trips are a must. From sunset cruises to party boats, you can be sure of a good time on the water. Or maybe you prefer to try life underwater on a diving course?
Book a spa treatment for your group then head off to Marsaxlokk for a great meal at one of the many restaurants terraces overlooking the sea. No visit to Malta would be complete without exploring Valletta, medieval capital boasting city walls and bustling harbour. The islands also produce great wine too. And don’t forget to head to St Julians for the nightlife at its Paceville district.
If you think Malta might be just the destination for your hen party email our travel specialists for a call back.
But you don’t have to stick to our favourites, Tasteful Travel can book a hen party anywhere you wish worldwide. Our service is completely bespoke so we can tailor make your dream trip to anywhere for groups of any size. Don't delay, download the ultimate Hen Party Planning Checklist to help with your first steps, or drop us a line today for your free consultation.