Monday, September 10, 2007

My Big Fat Cypriot Wedding

Last Saturday I had the privilege of attending a Cypriot/Greek Wedding in Paphos, Cyprus. The couple I had never even met before. However, since I was visiting my friend in Cyprus for the weekend, I was also extended an invitation. You can only imagine how excited I was, visions of shattered porcelain plates danced in my head to the tune of Opa! Sadly, I was informed that this isn't really done anymore.

I was given the low down on how these Cypriot weddings work, and let me tell you big does not adequately describe the wedding. Apparently, everyone you know has to be invited to the wedding. This can include the plumber who fixed your pipes last year, or your annoying neighbor who you cant even remember his name. The reason the wedding are so large is, in the old days, they used to invite the whole village from the brides side and the whole village from the grooms side.

Fortunately, the Greeks being as clever as they are, devised a plan. The people you don't know to well (or don't like to much) are invited for cocktails after the wedding, but are not invited to the supper. The good thing is that they still give you money, but you don't have to feed them much. Shake their hand, give them a few meat balls and pita with hallumi cheese and send them on their way. The other guests will come for supper after cocktails, around 9pm.

We were in the latter category, so at 9 pm we showed up at the hotel where the reception was taking place. The couple had to stand and greet all the guests that came, I can only imagine that after shaking 600 peoples hands that they were tired. Around 9:30 people started to file into the dining room, and immediately headed for the buffet. I was a little surprised that half of the guests had eaten before the bride and groom even entered the room. But I was informed that a lot of people will just eat and then leave right afterwards.

The food was pretty good, with Greek salads, a variety of meats, calamari, tzatziki, rice, potatoes and baklava for desert. As I ate my food, I couldn't help but remark the extremes of the dress attire. You had some men in jeans, some women in prom dresses, other women wearing their lingerie, and others who prefer to show their greatest accessory, cleavage.

After supper we watched the groom dance the "drunken dance" which is a solo dance, which involves a lot of stumbling and tapping the floor. The men circled him and knelt on the floor while they clapped their hands. The best men danced after the groom, and then the father and one of his friends all took their turn to show off. You can't help but feel the energy, with the Greek music in the back ground and all the clapping. I did participate a bit in the Greek dancing, but I was quite grateful when they played a few songs I knew, so as to not completely embarrass myself.

At 1pm, the DJ pretty much stopped playing music, and only a handful of guests remained. We thanked the bride and groom for a great party and wished them all the best. As we were driving back to the apartment, my friend asked what I thought about the wedding. My response was that was that was a huge wedding. Apparently, that was considered a small wedding, and some can be up to 3000! I remember with my wedding reception that I was stressed out with 60 guests, so I give props to all the Cypriot/Greek brides out there.

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