Last Saturday, John and I attended the wedding of Evangelia and Nikos. We met them last year in Xerokambos, a small village on the east coast of Crete, where we were staying for a week’s holiday. Xerokambos is quiet and has the most beautiful beaches you could ever want.
Evangelia was working in the family taverna next door to the rooms where we were staying.
We regularly ate in the taverna because Evangelia was charming, fun and great company, spoke good English, the food was simple and tasty and we got 10% off the bill! Then we met Nikos, her boyfriend, her parents, Eleni and Mikali and her brother, Demitri ( known to us as Jim) and her grandmother.
The family home is in Siteia, about 25 miles away. The taverna is open between April and October and is very much a family affair. The whole family takes responsibility for the running of the taverna, fitting it around full -time work, being a student at university, a pupil at school or other activities.
We enjoyed a wonderful week there with many highlights, such as going out in Mikali’s boat and eating snails for the first time!! But most of all we were bowled over by the kindness of the whole family. To show our appreciation, John sent from the UK, a framed photograph of Mikali, taken during our boat trip with him.
During the week, Evangelia and Nikos invited us to their wedding which was then some 18 months away.
Since coming back to Crete, we have seen the family on a number of occasions, including the celebration of my birthday. Each time we saw them, we were told we would get an invitation to the wedding, being held on Saturday, December 28th in Siteia at 7.30. In the end, the beautiful invitation, tied with a ribbon was left for us at the supermarket in Kavousi.
John was supposed to be wearing his kilt and Evangelia was very excited about that but when our stuff arrived from Scotland, the kilt and jacket turned up but none of the accessories so without too much reluctance, he decided that a jacket and trousers would have to do! Evangelia was disappointed because she had told all her friends but did not seem to mind too much.
I looked at my wardrobe and decided it was sadly lacking in clothes for a wedding. I went to Ierapetra and, with the help of a couple of wonderful sales assistants, bought a skirt and a pair of shoes. We drove to Siteia (about an hour away from here) and Evangelia’s father met us and drove us to their house.
We were not sure of the arrangements for the evening but Jim (or Demitri as he now likes to be called – he has turned into a young man over the last year), explained what was going to happen which was helpful and reassuring. While Evangelia was changing in her parent’s home, Nikos showed us round the couple’s new apartment which has been added on above Mikali and Eleni’s flat. There was some live music and when we went back downstairs, the bride appeared in a beautiful dress and greeted everybody who was there. After that she was photographed with three small girls who were in white, flouncy dresses and looked very cute.
Around 8 pm, we were told to walk round to the beautiful church and had some difficulty finding a seat, the church being completely packed with family and friends. Then the bride and groom arrived with their close families.
The Greek Orthodox priests carried out the hour long service in a very formal and prescribed manner. This was in contrast to the congregation who moved around the church freely and talked to their friends. There was no music or song but the photographer had full access to recording the whole ceremony.
Inevitably, the Greek Orthodox Church ceremony remains something of a mystery because of the language and how different it was to anything I had seen before. But there were some lovely moments such as when the couple were given separate haloes, joined together by ribbon and when the two families walked slowly together round in a circle for two or three times.
We drove in pouring rain to the reception which was held a few kilometres away from Siteia in a large event centre. Whilst I was prepared for a huge gathering of people, I still gasped when I entered the room. Apparently, there were 600 people there although it could well have been more.
We looked desperately for two seats. We found them eventually, sat down hurriedly, introduced ourselves to the person next to us and had a drink and a bit of food. Fifteen minutes later, our hosts asked us to join the top table as we were honoured guests from Scotland! Rather reluctantly, we moved, although we were touched by the hospitality and the generosity shown by our hosts.
Our table was next to a huge stage. First, we enjoyed seeing Evangelia and Nikos as children – the pictures were shown on a screen. Nice idea though I can’t think that either my children would allow it!!! Then the bride and groom appeared from different directions each with a microphone in hand. They sang a song to each other beautifully, in front of all the guests, accompanied by the band on the stage. That required huge confidence and will be an image I shall remember for a long time. They cut the cake, made by Eleni and ate a piece which was nice. Evangelia and Nikos both gave short speeches (we were mentioned) and then the music and the dancing began.
We had a wonderful view and I loved ‘people watching’. There were a range of women’s dresses and shoes to admire and wonder at.
Older men wore shirts and sometimes ties but the younger men were very casually dressed. The two bands were great. Men and women danced and danced.
To begin with, I wish I had joined in as I felt I could have made a good attempt at the steps but as the dances got more difficult, I was happy to sit firmly in my seat with a New Year’s resolution that I wanted to learn some dances. It was very enjoyable evening, if somewhat overwhelming! At 2 am, we thanked our hosts, invited them to Kavousi and John drove home.
This was a happy end to our eventful ‘yearincrete’. Next year, we will start a new blog. We thank everybody who has read it, contributed to it through comments and those who have appeared in it. Without you, it would be a lonely business producing it and not nearly so much fun.
John, Bonnie and I wish you all a very happy 2014.