How to have a small wedding abroad and survive your Greek family’s wrath

To save you the trouble of reading the rest of the post here is the easy answer: Be sufficiently old (over 35 will do) or sufficiently independent for them to have given up on you ever tying the knot – making just the fact that you are getting married enough for them to be eternally relieved and grateful for about five minutes. 

I may be exaggerating (or am I?) but a Greek wedding usually brings to mind huge affairs with hundreds of guests. It’s characteristic that all my non Greek friends were very excited about the prospect of me having a huge Greek wedding.  My Big Fat Greek Wedding the film was funny (and true. Oh so true) and created expectations.

via GIPHY

Why do we have big weddings in Greece? Well, firstly some people love them. If we were getting married in Greece I would have loved a big wedding with all my crazy family and all of our friends. It would have been a huge party and with us being sociable lively people we would have enjoyed it. Most of my amazing cousins had big weddings and I loved every single minute of them as a guest.

Secondly, we do have big families and we do keep in touch with most of our cousins. As we grow older and new members get added (husbands, wives, children etc.), it’s easy to see how if you don’t get your wedding on early, your family will have grown significantly by the time you finally decide to jump.

But even if you don’t love big weddings, the social expectation of one is there, lurking in the background. A small quick wedding – or even worse – a civil ceremony with 5 people – still makes others a bit suspicious (are you pregnant? are you doing this for taxation reasons and the big wedding will follow? when? etc.) And the Greeks being champion gossipers, you’ll never hear the end of it.

The real problem of course is the intricate web of obligations that all Greek families have because the neighbour invited your parents to his niece’s wedding and now they have to invite the neighbour or a lifetime of sullen silences while riding the elevator looms. At which point the invite list jumps from about 150 (a small Greek wedding) to 350 (the average I should think) or 1000 (the typical wedding in Crete).

RockPaperScissors wedding. Photographers: Stephanie Brauer Wedding Photography & Ushna Khan Photography Concept

When we (the important “we”. Pelennor and me minus the family) decided to get married (the how is a story for another time) we asked each other to honestly answer the one key question: “What sort of wedding do you want so that in years to come you can say ‘I am so happy we did that’ instead of ‘that was a horrible experience and I would happily  only be permitted to watch the uncool Star Wars movies (you know which ones I’m talking about – I’m looking at you Episodes I- II – III) rather than doing that again'”.

Wedding photography by Andreas Politis

We both would have been delighted with a huge wedding in Greece. I knew that I wanted Rock Paper Scissors to design, style and organise the whole thing. I wanted Andreas Politis to do the photography. And I would have liked to go to church. Pelennor had a huge list of friends, I had to convince him that Hobbit feet would not be acceptable as groom’s shoes and he also wanted need to play at the reception. (By the way, this is not a sponsored post, we actually know and like those people).

Getting this organised at the standard we would have liked, with the people we would want, in the time remaining and within some sort of acceptable budget (even though it is presumed that you must have some sort of bottomless wedding wallet somewhere) is an impossibility. To succeed in that endeavour some sort of quanta would have to be activated or we would have to live in a world where Narrativium was working.

Ultimately though – even though we disagreed  on Hobbit feet – we do agree on how this wedding should *feel* and we want it to be intimate and small and a little bit quirky because we are adorable weirdos after all. And simple. As simple as possible – meaning that a church is out of the question since we would have to go to the Church where we were baptised (yes, decades ago) to get all sorts of unnecessary paperwork. I’ve never been so sure of a no in my life.

I do have to take my hat off to our parents who have been incredibly supportive and now have to endure the downstairs neighbour not talking to them, the local baker giving them yesterday’s bread and the upstairs neighbour beating the carpets when my mother has clothes drying on the balcony (hint: they have to be washed again).

They were weirdly co-operative thought – it was all very suspicious. Even my father – traditionalist central – was curiously on board with a London wedding. Pelennor and I have been forced to chalk it up to parental exasperation with the years of non marriage that preceded our decision. It’s a sort of “please, do it on Mars if you’d like just get on with it”.

It’s infuriating but it seems that after a certain age, all of your achievements count for nothing and the presence of a partner and children are the only markers of success. Big career? How do you expect to meet somebody! Travelling a lot? How will you start a family! Still having an interest that your parents don’t get? When will you grow up!

As progressive as parents are, you know that all of these thoughts are going through their head even if they are not verbalising them and hell, more often than not they do. So wait long enough and they have actually exhausted themselves!

via GIPHY

We thought that the evil plan of delaying would work wonders and we were under the impression that this theme of “we are relieved and so have no opinion” would continue. Fat chance! Pelennor’s beard is already 95% shorter following intense parental lobbying and my preference for a specific type of dress has been vetoed by my sister – aka my own personal stylist.

Oh well, maybe we’ll start pretending that new ideas and requests are illegal in the UK – you never know, it might work.

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