Getting Married
In Cyprus there are a number of traditional wedding customs, and since most Cypriots are Greek Orthodox, there are many activities you are probably unfamiliar with.

In preparation on the day of the wedding, musicians will play traditional songs at the home of the groom and also at the bride.

The Red Scarf Ceremonies

When the bride is dressed and ready to leave for the ceremony, the bride’s parents and close friends wrap a red scarf around her waist and head to symbolize her virginity.

Meanwhile at the groom’s house, his friends and family wrap the red scarf around the groom’s waist as a symbol of his fertility.

The Wedding Ceremony

Usually, the Bride and the Groom arrive at the church together. In a village the bride’s father will walk his daughter to the church, but in a town they will use cars or a horse drawn carriage. The parents of the bride will give her away to the groom at the door of the church, he will have waited for his bride with her bouquet after which they will enter the church and walk up the aisle together.

During the ceremony the priest gives the couple ceremonial bread (prosfora) to eat and red Cypriot wine (koumandaria) to drink, symbolising the wedding at Cana in Galilee, where Christ blessed the marriage and converted water into wine.

The Chief Bridesmaid

The bride’s chief bridesmaid will place a ceremonial headband (stefana) on the brides head, traditionally made of materials including lemon leaves, olive branches and vines to gold and jewels, and symbolising God’s blessings.

The Best Man

The best man places a similar headband on the groom. The priest will say a prayer over the newlyweds and their stefana, wishing them all of God’s blessings in their new life together.

A ribbon binds the two crowns, representing the lasting union between bride and groom, is to be kept intact for a lifetime.

The Ceremony

Wearing the stefana, the couple exchange wedding rings three times before placing them on the fourth finger of each other’s right hand, to recognise that God’s right hand is the hand that blesses.

The couple then perform the Dance of Isaiah, the priest leading them three times around the table that holds the Gospel and the Cross. The best man and chief bridesmaid walk behind the couple, holding the stefana in place.

The priest blesses the couple, removes the stefana and asks God to grant them a long, happy life together.

Finally, the priest separates the couple’s joined hands, showing them that only God can separate them from one another.

The bride and groom are now officially married.

The stefana are extremely important to the couple, who will often save them and place them on display in their new home, and may even be buried in them.

As they leave the church, the newlywed couple offer their guests white sugared almonds (koufetta).  The egg shape of the koufetta represents fertility and the new life that begins with marriage, their firm texture symbolising the endurance of an everlasting marriage, and the white sugar coating representing purity and the sweetness of future life. The almonds are offered in an indivisible, odd number, to symbolize the indivisibility of the new union.

The Reception

Among other traditional Cypriot foods, guests enjoy koulouria, a ring-shaped cookie or biscuit sprinkled with sesame seeds.

Early in the festivities, the unmarried friends of the bride may write their names on the bottoms of the bride’s shoes.

At the end of the evening, the bride removes her shoes: the woman whose name remains written there will traditionally be the next to marry.

Cyprus Wedding - Pinning The Money

Midway through the celebration, the couple perform the newlywed dance, offering their guests the opportunity to pin money to their clothing, thus allowing them to pay the wedding expenses and start their married life free of debt.