Delighted to launch the first of our Wedding Diaries posts;
“My Big Fab Greek Wedding”
Angie Pappas Constable reviews her idyllic Greek wedding celebrations and memories.
August 21, 2010, Patras, Greece
On the wedding day, I had just finished setting up the decks with the DJ and worked out some last details with the hotel staff for the table laying and layout, I finally jumped in the pool, where the venue was at (Florida Blue bay Hotel), with my husband-soon-to-be Ady and friends, when one of them said, “Angie, what are you doing here? Aren’t you getting married in, like, 2 hours?!” It was 5 pm and the wedding was for 7 pm. Ady was in no hurry because he was going to get changed and ready at the honeymoon suite of the actual hoteI. I, on the other hand, lived a 20 minute drive away. And I was the bride!
I arrived home dripping, where my family and hairdresser were waiting, and they were not very happy. Everything after that was a blur as it happened way too fast. Shower, hair, make up, dress, headpiece. Applying make up while having my head and hair pulled backwards and sidewards violently by the hairdresser was no easy task. I had designed the dress myself thinking of simplicity, comfort and practicality before anything else, and I am glad to say that I nailed it in that respect. It was off-white, bare shoulders, with straps just hanging from the sides, nothing too bulky or heavy (I had to consider the heat wave) with a flower piece of the same material on the side of my waist that pinned a load of the base’s fabric up on the one side, to create a pleated effect. It only took a couple of fittings and it was ready in a week. However, I can’t say I felt any emotional attachment to it, nothing like I thought it would be like when I was a girl.
I was more concerned about the decorations for the venue, the church, the cars, the flower arrangements which were mainly orange gerberas with little beige roses, according to our colour scheme, the table layout, transportation from hotel to church and back, the DJs, etc. The headpiece which was pinned on the back of my hair was made by me, with beads and feathers to match the same flower piece I had on the dress, on the side of my waist. I also did the Greek invitation cards myself. The English version ones were made by one of our two best men (we had 2 for religious reasons). The sweets that are traditionally handed out after the ceremony to every guest, were put together by me and my mother and were given to the hotel staff to be placed around the tables. I had 2 months off work for summer and enough time to get all hands-on with the wedding. It gave me great pleasure to have some of my own personal input in all this instead of just ordering everything already done in shops. It felt more like I was hosting some big party rather than being the center or reason for it, and maybe that’s why I was so relaxed after all that was done.
I had to push through a crowd of relatives that had gathered waiting for me at the house and rush into the car that was decorated in flowers to take me to the church. There was a following of cars and honks all the way to the church while I was on the phone to Ady trying to listen if everybody made it to the church ok. The church was called Metamorfosi Sotiros and it was sitting on a hill that had a beautiful view to the seaside village where the hotel (venue) was at. Everybody was there waiting and smiling and that’s when it really hit me that I was doing this, for real.
Ady was stood at the entrance of the church holding my flower bouquet next to his best man and son. I felt like time stopped and I had enough time to take that picture in, which I am glad I did because it’s one of the memories with the longest duration from that day. The church was also decorated in flowers, and two huge orange tulle ribbons tied around the columns left and right from the entrance. My dad and brother walked me to Ady, he handed me the bouquet, and a kiss later we were inside. It was a very hot day and a tiny church, and the ceremony was over in 30-40 minutes. The priest looked like Gandalf from Lord of the Rings. Ady went with the flow as he did not understand Greek and we were constantly bombarded with the flash from the photographers who kept giving us directions in sign language as to what we were meant to do or where to go. Like when we were following the priest around in a circle, three times, I hid my face with the bouquet because everybody started throwing rice on us, and it was going everywhere. The photographer hurried to pull it away from my face so he can capture the full horror of it all…
After the ceremony we went outside to the balcony for some more photos while everybody else was heading to the venue. We were kept longer and couldn’t wait to join the others. A friend of mine volunteered to take the wedding photos and get a wedding video together and we agreed without hesitation. Knowing he was young and eccentric we thought the result would be very interesting. His parents, who had the photography business, took over completely and our mate had already joined the others for drinks. We started giggling uncontrollably when we realised this, especially with the cliche of the poses we were asked to take and made the photographer’s job a nightmare.
Our wedding car was one of my favourite features. It was a Dodge Charger, (the General Lee from the Dukes of Hazzard), ideally orange, as per the scheme, and just plain stunning.
It was a fantastic gesture off a friend of mine, who collects antique cars. He gave us a spin around the seaside village as our chauffeur, and then headed us straight to the venue.
The hotel had everything set up according to plan. Next to the swimming pool there was a green area where the tables were scattered underneath the olive trees, and the seaside was just behind it. The sun had gone down which was ideal, as all the candles from the centerpieces and the lanterns hanging from the trees were glowing a soft orange light all around. The cake was in the middle of the dance floor. It was a 3 tiered semifreddo cream & coffee cake, made and decorated by a friend. There were more pictures that followed while we were cutting it and eating it, and then some more around the pool and back.
We had a food buffet with a huge variety of everything really. The presentation was immaculate. There was a salad bar, a cheese bar, a fruit bar and food choices for every taste and need. That, along with the flower decorations, was money well spent. Our guests were around 150 people. Most of them were my own family which is huge. My first cousins alone are 30 and their own families were all there too. My husband’s guests were outnumbered, since they flew from different countries, so not all of them could make it, and they were seated with my own friends. Our first dance, which was the most awkward moment of the evening (we had no practise, how could we, not easy to do when in a long distance relationship through Skype) ended up with us just hugging each other throughout and keeping the nervous laughter still strong from the photo session at the church prior to that. Then there was plenty of food, fruits, cake, drinks, dancing and mingling.
We danced to traditional Greek songs, to start off with for the Greek side, and then rock n roll and more for the rest of us from two different DJs. There was a bouquet throwing for the girls, and a garter throwing after Ady pulled mine off, for the boys.
I have very little recollection of what went on after that. I can remember buckets of questionable content drink with straws being passed around, or a good group of us driving off later on from one beach bar to the next. I remember driving with no shoes on and ending up back at the hotel with Ady and a few more hardcore survivors in the early morning sitting for breakfast by the pool squinting at the sun and avoiding it like vampires. My dress was in a right state, especially from the knees down, it was soaked and covered in wet sand, which can only mean that I walked into the sea at some point. The other hotel guests would have a lot to talk about that day…Over the next few weeks various photos by friends revealed more and more about what went on and it was a relief (or not) to be putting pieces together to the puzzle. We were also looking forward to the photographer’s photos and video. It turned out that they left the venue around midnight so there’s no professional footage after that, and the video was so cringy and tacky, you could easily say it was a cult masterpiece. Shock, that was soon drowned by laughter. Thank heavens for friends’ photos to make up for the best part of the night.
I would do it all over again, the same exact way. I felt so proud and special with my own little artistic inputs, and relaxed that it was all done and ready in time. The picturesque little church with that view, the idyllic venue and layout under the olive trees next to the sea, the vibrant flower arrangement and decorations, the spectacular food, the jaw dropping wedding car and the fun and laughs and hugs from our friends will forever be carved in my memory. We could have had better photos and dvd but that didn’t ruin anything for us. If anything, we still laugh when watching it today and the memories of it all. It was a simple, laid back and classy do, and it was one hell of a day.