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Capturing the Beauty of a Greek Orthodox Wedding: A Photographer's Guide

Updated: Aug 15, 2023


greek orthodox wedding

Greek Orthodox weddings are rich in tradition, symbolism, and beauty, making them an ideal subject for photographers. As a wedding photographer, it's essential to understand the unique aspects of a Greek Orthodox ceremony to capture its essence fully. In this post, I will discuss the history, customs, and rituals of a Greek Orthodox wedding, providing you with the information you need to document these special moments for the happy couple.


If you would like for me to be your wedding day photographer, feel free to contact me, RayCee the Artist, at raycee@rayceeartist.com to learn more about the wedding packages that I offer!


Also, be sure to follow me on Instagram and YouTube!


History and Background


Greek Orthodox weddings have a long history, dating back thousands of years to ancient Greece. The wedding ceremony is an essential sacrament in the Greek Orthodox faith, known as the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. It is a sacred union between a man and a woman, where they become one in the eyes of God and the Church. Greek Orthodox weddings are steeped in tradition and religious symbolism, and understanding these customs will allow you to capture the meaningful moments that define these ceremonies.


The Ceremony


A Greek Orthodox wedding ceremony typically takes place inside a church, with the priest officiating the service. The ceremony is divided into two parts: the Betrothal Service and the Crowning Service.


Betrothal Service


greek orthodox wedding

This part of the ceremony involves the exchanging of rings, symbolizing the couple's commitment to each other. The priest blesses the rings and then places them on the couple's right hands, as the right hand is considered the hand of blessing and power in the Orthodox faith. The "koumbaros" or "koumbara" (best man or maid of honor) then exchanges the rings between the bride and groom three times, representing the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).


Crowning Service


greek orthodox wedding

The couple is crowned with "stefana" (wedding crowns) that are joined by a ribbon, symbolizing their unity in marriage. The crowns are made of various materials such as gold, silver, or flowers and are typically provided by the koumbaros/koumbara. The priest blesses the crowns and places them on the couple's heads, and the koumbaros/koumbara then exchanges the crowns three times. The crowning represents the couple becoming the king and queen of their own kingdom - their new family.


Key Rituals and Traditions


The beauty of a Greek Orthodox wedding lies in the intricate customs and rituals that have been passed down through generations. These practices carry deep spiritual and cultural significance, enriching the ceremony and providing a strong foundation for the couple's new life together.


I will now talk about some of the key rituals and traditions that form the essence of a Greek Orthodox wedding, allowing you to appreciate and capture the symbolism behind each special moment.


Lighting of Candles


The bride and groom each hold a lit candle during the ceremony, symbolizing the light of Christ and the couple's commitment to following His teachings. These candles can provide beautiful, warm, and intimate photographic opportunities.


The Common Cup


greek orthodox wedding

The couple shares a cup of wine, symbolizing their unity and shared life. This ritual represents their commitment to share both joy and sorrow in their journey together.


The Wedding Dance


The priest leads the couple around the altar three times in a circular procession, known as the Dance of Isaiah. This dance signifies their first steps as a married couple, guided by the Church and the Gospel.


The Removal of Crowns


At the end of the ceremony, the priest removes the crowns from the couple's heads, offering a prayer for the removal of any difficulties and hardships they may face in their married life.


The Pronouncement


greek orthodox wedding

The priest pronounces the couple husband and wife, and the guests shower them with rice or other grains, symbolizing fertility, prosperity, and abundance.


Photography Tips for a Greek Orthodox Wedding


greek orthodox wedding

A Greek Orthodox wedding offers a unique and captivating experience for photographers, with its rich symbolism and timeless traditions. To create a visual narrative that genuinely reflects the essence of the ceremony, it is crucial to understand the nuances of this sacred event and adapt your photography approach accordingly.


I will share essential tips and insights to help you master the art of photographing a Greek Orthodox wedding, ensuring that you capture the most memorable moments and create a stunning collection of images that the couple will treasure for a lifetime.

• Familiarize yourself with the ceremony and its rituals beforehand to anticipate and capture the most important moments.


• Be respectful of the religious nature of the ceremony. Make sure to follow any specific guidelines provided by the church or the couple regarding photography during the ceremony. Some churches may have restrictions on where you can stand or the use of flash photography.


• Utilize natural light whenever possible. The soft, warm glow of candlelight can create stunning images during the ceremony.


• Focus on capturing the emotions and expressions of the couple and their guests. The rituals and traditions of a Greek Orthodox wedding evoke deep emotions, so be prepared to capture those intimate moments.


• Pay special attention to the details, such as the stefana, the candles, and the common cup. These items hold great significance and will be treasured memories for the couple.


• Consider using a second shooter or assistant to help cover different angles and ensure you don't miss any crucial moments during the ceremony.


• Communicate with the couple and the priest before the wedding day to discuss any specific shots they would like to have captured or any restrictions in place.


• Photograph the traditional elements of the reception, such as the Greek dancing, the smashing of plates, and the money dance, where guests pin money to the couple's clothes as a symbol of good fortune.


Conclusion


A Greek Orthodox wedding is a beautiful, meaningful, and spiritual event. As a wedding photographer, understanding the customs and rituals involved in the ceremony will enable you to capture the essence of this unique celebration. By being prepared, respectful, and attentive to detail, you can create a stunning visual narrative for the couple to cherish for years to come. So, immerse yourself in the rich history and symbolism of Greek Orthodox weddings, and be ready to document this once-in-a-lifetime experience for the happy couple.


If you would like for me to be your wedding day photographer, feel free to contact me, RayCee the Artist, at raycee@rayceeartist.com to learn more about the wedding packages that I offer!


Also, be sure to follow me on Instagram and YouTube!


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