The story of my first wedding in Greece starts with me getting hit by a car.
I was dressed in my prettiest dress, feeling unstoppable and confident that the car at the intersection would stop for the pedestrian so obviously striding across the street. That confidence was misplaced, however, and the car darted in front of me, rolling over my left foot and coming so close that my elbow slammed into the windshield as it passed me by. I stood in the middle of the road for a moment, gaping at the taillights shrinking in the distance, then continued on. I had partying to attend to!
I worried that I wouldn’t know anyone at Luciana and George’s wedding, but Dina and Argyris took me under their wing, as always. The ceremony was at Cosmovision, and Dina wasted very little time in telling me that if I married a Greek man, this would be the site of my wedding too. “I think I’ll want to get married in the States,” I said carefully. She thought for a moment, then suggested, “You could have two weddings?” “YES,” I agreed.
Chairs were lined up on the lawn facing Pinterest-y decorations and displays. I ran into two other couples that I knew and planned dinner dates with both, which went a long way in making me feel at home. After half an hour of mingling, we were told to find seats. George walked down the aisle and waited…and waited. The bride was nowhere in sight. Finally, a car sped to the entrance of the lawn, then backed into position. Luciana emerged, and her brother walked her halfway down the aisle before giving her to her mother, who walked her to George.
The ceremony was lovely. There was a great deal of mentioning the joining of a Brazilian and a Cypriote, but I felt like the traditions taking place were pretty universal. They did take time out to wash each other’s feet, and Luciana’s tears as she looked down at her soon-to-be-husband carefully drying her feet and putting on her shoes was about as symbolic of the submission of marriage as I could emotionally handle. Of course then it all got worse (better) when they read the vows they’d written to each other. George ended his with, “You no longer have to walk alone.” Luciana started hers with a laugh through even more tears, the reason of which became evident when her vows also ended with “You no longer have to walk alone.”
They kissed, were married, and ran off to take pictures while the rest of us mingled for another hour while the chairs were taken away and tables set up in their place. I was assigned to eat with the table of young people, most of whom knew Luciana and George from their various ministries around the world. I sat with people from Poland, Spain, Kyrgyzstan, Cyprus, and the Netherlands, and though the enormous amount of food from the buffet kept us from having to talk much, soon the wine loosened our tongues and we were become fast wedding friends.
Luciana and George returned, picture slideshows were projected against the building’s wall, and video messages from relatives in Brazil were played. The bride and groom visited each table, the cake was cut, friends gave toasts, and it was 11:30 before the dancing began. This is especially impressive because the ceremony had begun at 6:00. The five hours had flown by, and the fun was just getting started. There was an open bar, and shoes were cast aside so that everyone could dance in the grass unencumbered. The playlist stayed in the disco/pop/dance music that frequents most wedding receptions for a while, but eventually Latin music kicked up and the majority of the guests stood in awe as the Brazilian and Portuguese guests tore up the dance floor. The music shifted again, and this time the oddly syncopated beats of Greek music filled the air. The Greeks on the guest list started the circle, and everyone else joined in, confident that they were not the only ones stumbling over their feet as they tried to mimic the patterns of twisting and lifting feet.
It was 1:00 when the family who had agreed to take me to the metro said we should probably leave, so I said goodbye to my new friends and left the scene of my first wedding in Greece.