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'Allamata', the revival of a Cypriot wedding

I tend to believe that I am a modern woman, but when it comes to traditions I just love them. I want to meet all different cultures and introduce myself to every sort of customs and styles. Once upon a time weddings in Cyprus were traditionally lasting for over five days. [...] Alright, I am not that traditional! We decided to bring an adaptation of the old Cypriot wedding to the 21st century and present a brief summary to all our friends that traveled from so far to be part of this unique day. Australia, Taiwan, Korea, Bangladesh, Indianapolis, Venezuela, Colombia, Russia, California, Somalia, Spain, Portugal, Bulgaria, Germany, Poland, Italy, Greece and the islands, Scotland and the UK. A blessing!

Lexeko Estate, Lythrodontas

To give you a brief, weddings in Cyprus are usually open to the wider family of the groom and the bride. A good number of 600 people is considered to be on the edge of a normal size wedding dinner. However, we didn't go crazy. We chose to be selective instead, and invited only our closest family and friends; 200 people was the real deal -talking dinner and party. On the other hand, during the day everyone is invited to celebrate the couple during their preparations, the church ceremony and cocktail party. It's a full day event; a good 15 hours minimum for the guests.

Lexeko Estate, Lythrodontas

For a special day as such, we chose a quiet location between the mountains of Lythrodontas. Nature seemed about right. We were surrounded by pine and olive trees, accompanied by the sweet melody of birds. Lexeko Estate is nature at its best and not only; guarantee. Endless green and blue. We instantly fell in love with this place! And to be honest, nobody wants the sticky skin of the wet coast on their haute couture.

The bride made sure to prepare the symbolisms of a Cypriot wedding -in a fan shape- for all the guests to be able to beat the heat and become familiar with the process.

The day begins with the preparations of the groom and bride. Carlos is getting ready at the 'Stables' while Ero is taking ownership of the 'Villa' with her girlfriends. Culture symbolism is important in this type of events to keep the traditions alive.

Note: All the pictures are low quality, unedited and given by our guests. All the customs shown in the pictures and videos below are indicative. The whole family and friends had performed them in a certain order. The duration is between 2-3 hours.

Phase 1 Allaman (adornment)

The night before the wedding, the bride and the groom sleep separately. The ceremony starts with the adornment of the couple. The newlyweds are kept apart not able to see each other. The musicians, a violinist and a lutenist start performing the ‘wedding song’ at the groom’s house, which lasts for as long as it takes for all the relatives and friends to perform the customs.

The shaving of the Groom

On the wedding day, the groom’s friends will help him get ready. The ‘koumparos’ (best man) puts a white towel round the neck of the groom and starts shaving him; this confirms the trust between the two men.

Carlos is been shaved by his best man

The Dowry dance

The groom’s clothes, shoes and accessories are placed in the ‘tseston’ (a handmade basket) before the ceremony starts. The dance is called ‘choros ton proitzion’, Dowry dance. The basket is raised high by the dancer and the best man and close relatives perform the: ‘Na horepsoun ta rouha prota’ -the clothes must be danced with, before the bride and the groom wear them.

The godfather of the bride is giving the Dowry Dance

The dressing of the Groom

His friends will then help to dress him. One might assist him to tie his bow and another may help him put his blazer on. The singer instructs them with his lyrics in what to do: to dress the groom in his shirt, watch, his shoes and his tie.

The best man is helping the groom to get dressed

The ‘smoking’ of the Groom

When the dressing of the groom is complete, the violinist calls the groom’s family to smoke him, in order to bless him and his new life. The olive leaves which had been blessed by the priest before the wedding are ignited and the one who smokes the groom or the bride has to make the sign of the cross three times over his/her head. Number three symbolises the Holy Trinity.

The smoking of the groom from the godmother of the bride, the sister, the grandfather and parents.

The adornment of the Groom

The ‘zwman’ of the groom is the custom when a red kerchief is passed around the bride’s and groom’s waist and head three times. The red kerchief symbolises their purity and fertility.

The adornment of the groom by his best man, the brother and sister of the bride

The Dowry dance of the Bride

At the bride’s house, her ‘koumpara’ (maid of honour) and friends will help her put her dress on. Then the bride sits on a white pillow and the musicians start singing the ‘wedding song’. The tseston, wrapped with a white cloth, which will be used in the Dowry dance, is ready. It contains the bridal shoes and accessories and the red kerchief which will be used for the custom of zwman. The koumpara performs the dowry dance first.

The Maid of honour and godmother of the bride are performing the Dowry Dance

Dressing the Bride

Just before the bride puts her shoes on, she will write the names of her unmarried friends on the bottom of her shoes. The tradition says that the name of the girl that will be worn off first by the end of the day will get married next. The bridesmaids are then called by the musicians to put her shoes on, her earrings and so on. The bride then puts on her ring by herself.

The Maid of honour is helping the bride to get ready

The bride is writing the names of her single girlfriends under her shoes while the maid of honour is helping her put them on

The shoe of the bride the morning after

The Wedding Dress

The white color symbolizes the purity of the bride’s soul. Similarly to royal weddings and deriving from the Middle Ages, the longest the tale the biggest the bride’s majesty. The veil protects the bride from the evil eye.

The bride is been welcomed by her guests for her preparations

The smoking of the Bride

The customs of smoking the bride follow. The bride makes her cross three times upon the smoke of the leaves that had previously been blessed in the church showing that she accepts the blessings of God.

It is a moment of great honour for the bride. The grandfather is giving her his eulogy and along with the grandmother begin to perform the smoking of the bride. Her mother and uncle are also seeing below.

The adornment of the Bride

During the zwman everyone participates after the musician calls his/ her name. Thus, all people who are present at the ceremony partic- ipate in this custom giving their wish by crossing the bride three times. Following this, the musicians accompany the bride with her family to the church with the melody of the wedding song.

Following the smoking of the bride, the adornment of the bride begins with the grandparents, the parents follow and then everybody else.

After a few of rounds of Kalamatianos Dance, the groom and the bride are now ready to make their way to the church for the part two.

Part II to follow

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