Sunday, June 10, 2007

Just another Greek wedding


Yesterday I was forced to attend another Greek wedding. This makes five weddings I’ve been to here, including my own, which is more than I attended in 30 years in the U.S. (yea, ok, so I skipped a couple of weddings I should have gone to). While Greek weddings aren’t bad, the thing about Orthodox weddings is that once you’ve seen one, you basically seen them all. The program is always the same, the main differences are the names of the betrothed involved (and even there you can surprisingly run into a lot of the same pair ups name wise) and the quality of the chanters. With Greek Orthodox weddings you don’t get any poorly sung love songs or maudlin, badly written poems. For that, I am grateful.

Last night’s wedding was at Agios Demetrios, another classic Byzantine church in Thessaloniki. Very similar in design to the Church of the Acheiropoietos (which happens to be my favorite church here), Agios Demetrios was nearly destroyed by the huge Thessaloniki fire of 1917. The interiors are gorgeous - the marble columns, murals and podiums – and some original mosaics have been preserved.

The wedding had a nice atmosphere in that church, and the chanters were very sonorous and pleasant to listen to. The bride and groom looked gorgeous. Like any summer wedding, the guests were a mishmash of well dressed ladies, men in light colored linen suits (for a minute I thought I was on the set of Miami Vice – the TV show, not the movie), youngsters in jeans and casual shirts, and women in the sluttiest, shortest outfits they could muster. Hey, you do what you gotta in this world. Honestly, I’m not judging. In my skinny, beautiful youth I dressed slutty now and then too.

Unfortunately, receptions here always seem to be the same as well. Usually in a general party hall (or outdoors), with a long table for the wedding party, round guest tables all along, and a huge space in the middle for dancing. The food is always the same - salad, some sort of filled pita, and meat and potatoes. The bride and groom make their entrance with pomp and circumstance, to a song they hand picked, right after their entrance they cut the cake, to another song they hand picked, and then they have their first dance (yep, another song hand picked). After about 30 minutes of general food consumption and random music, the band starts to play traditional Greek music and people get up and dance. But not in pairs. Greece must be one of the world leaders in circular group dancing. And once they get enough people it evolves into some kind of spiral thing I still can’t figure out. It is certainly entertaining to watch for a few minutes, and fun to participate in briefly, but two+ hours of blaringly loud Greek music is a little too much. For me, at least. But then again, I hadn’t consumed nearly enough alcohol.

There are two weddings in August I am supposed to attend, so we’ll see what happens. If I had any idea how much torture people actually go through as wedding guests I would never have invited anyone. Of course, I’m sure that all those sociable people out there enjoy themselves. Good for them. Maybe next time I’ll get drunk enough to find the total entertainment value of six hours’ worth of wedding/reception fun. Despite my misery, I still wish the happy couple the best of married life, because weddings are a cause for celebration. Just keep me out of it.


Anne said...

I'm a frequent visitor of your blog and i enjoy your posts and sense of humor,
I got married about a month ago, at the town hall. The wedding reception was basically a dinner for our favorite people, no central table, no big entering of the happy couple, no dancing or loud music, just and only some music in the background consisting of songs that my husband and i like.
So, not all greek weddings are like that ;-)

Southern Beale said...

What a great blog! I hope you post more pictures!

CaliforniaKat said...

Being as I'm not Greek Orthodox and never will be, and my fiance and I are not willing to bribe a priest to allow us a church wedding (which I wouldn't want anyway, to be honest), we're doing a civil ceremony taking 2 minutes with only our witnesses,
his parents and his brother. I've never been a wedding girl anyway.

Afterward, we having a gathering of friends we're providing with American appetizers and drinks on the house, in case they need something to ease whatever pain we've caused. ;)

Flubberwinkle said...

Mel, I know what you mean with the weddings. I try to find something distinctive or at least different in them every time but never can. The church, the guests, the flowers, the "bombonieres", even the brides seem to look alike.

Husband and I (albeit both Greek and had been baptized as Greek Orthodox) never wanted a church wedding. 19 years ago we had our wedding in the town hall (west suburb of Athens). We had about 250 guests (you should have seen how surprised the mayor -who was doing the ceremony- was with the amount of people that attended the ceremony), I wore a modest wedding gown, Husband wore a not-so-formal suit AND the only tie he has ever worn (I'm not kidding), I carried a bouquet of gardenias, decorated the hall with carnations.

Then we held a modest reception directly after the ceremony right there in the town hall (sweets and champagne). Our immediate families did the catering and cleaning up. There was music in the background. Everyone took pictures with everyone. We talked, thanked people for their coming and their gifts.

Whole shebang took about 3 hours (for us, the couple, others stayed longer) and both extended families and friends surprisingly still remember details of our wedding and have congratulated us on its simplicity and uniqueness, sans the customary hoopla.

But then again... every bride thinks her wedding was unique.

melusina said...

Hi Anne - Glad you enjoy the blog. I suppose I should have specified Greek Orthodox wedding. It is nice to know some people here don't follow the "program". I don't regret my wedding, but it was a bit too much for me. I preferred my very small, very laid back American wedding.

Southern Beale - Hi and thanks! I am always posting pictures!

CaliforniaKat - Sounds perfect. That is pretty much what our American wedding was like. But I had to please the in-laws (and my husband too, although I think he just wanted a church wedding, he could have done without all the extras).

Flubberwinkle - If only more Greek weddings were like yours! Unfortunately, I know my Greek wedding was far from unique. Ugh, I still have nightmares.

Anonymous said...

You seem nice but it seems as if you are just writing like a bored student not as a talented witty writer. Too bad it seemed that you had it in you. I am greek american and teach in the inner city but my students have passion when they write i am glad that they do not have inernet access yet so they can read proper writing styles then enter the bored blogging world. I teach them about greek myths and their mayan ancestry and beg for more.
Details please
Jazz it up girl

Thanos said...

Sometimes talented, witty writers (by the way I don't think Mel ever laid claim to the title) write like bored students - sometimes even on purpose, although I could not tell you if that is the case here.

In any case, may I ask what made you not sign your post? An oversight surely, for a teacher, a scholar, an amateur (in the literal sense) of mythology, history and the written Word, would not hide behind anonymity.


P.S.: I would like to read some of the passionate writings of inner city kids. Their world is so different than our own.

CaliforniaKat said...

Ela Thano, don't bother wasting your time to address someone who can't capitalize letters or spell 'Internet' correctly. This is clearly a case of someone bored themselves, otherwise why take the time to write out something mean and irrelevant? Mel is a fine writer and is kind enough to share your lives with anyone willing to read.

Blogging is freedom of expression, whether it's poetry, a sentence or the great American novel. It can be whatever it is.

Christina said...

What a spoiled brat! These people spend money for you to attend their wedding and what do you do...go to your blog and complain about them! You should be ashamed of yourself. You need to find something fulfilling in your life. You should be so lucky you have a network of friends that invite you to be a part of their special day. If you don't like it, go home to Kentucky and make fun of all the boring horse farms and white fences.

Get a life!