Greek wedding food traditions are an exciting part of every Greek ceremony. These tasty dishes will allow guests to experience unique dish opportunities. Regardless of whether the guest is vegetarian, or a meat-eater, the Greek cuisine has something for everyone!
Destination weddings in Greece produce spectacular weddings.
This is because the country of Greece has very many wonderful locations that are suitable for every wedding type. From mountain elopements, to private lake ceremonies, to grand island weddings. Greece has something for all!
This week we will focus on what Greek cuisine offers during Greek weddings. This will include prevalent Greek wedding food traditions, menu types, and of course tasty dishes!
During the religious ceremony
The Greek population is overwhelmingly Greek Orthodox, as Christianity is deeply rooted in the Greek culture. Koufeta (almonds that are sugar coated), are an important part of Greek Orthodox weddings.
There is unique symbolism at play with koufeta:
- Color of the almond (white) expresses purity
- Shape of the almond (egg shape) expresses fertility
- Toughness of the almond expresses the endurance of marriage.
- Sweetness of sugar expresses the sweetness of marriage.
These are also part of the Greek wedding favours. Greek wedding traditions dictate that the koufeta receive a blessing at church. Individuals will place the koufeta on a ceremonial trait where they will then place them in a small gift bag. These small gift bags are known as bombonieres, and the number of koufeta is odd. This is to symbolize that since an odd number cannot be divided, the same will apply to the couple.
Usually, they are given right after the ceremony, while the bride, groom and close family greet guests individually.
There is duality at play here.
The koufeta symbolize both bitterness and sweetness (the bitter almond combines with the sweet sugar). Essentially they are a wish of wealth, good fortune and happiness for the newlywed couple.
The bride and her bridesmaids put together bombonieres filled with koufeta and wrapped in tulle. The number of koufeta is an odd number that cannot be divided or split, to represent how the couple is now indivisible.
In fact, there is also a superstition at play here. It is said that if a single girl places the koufeta under her pillow for the three nights that follow the wedding, she will dream of her future husband.
All in all, koufeta are an important Greek wedding food tradition that is likely to continue for future generations.
Greek wedding food traditions menu styles
There are a number of different approaches couples can take when it comes to Greek wedding food traditions. Specifically, during the wedding reception, couples can choose amongst different menu styles for their Greek wedding.
“Meze” style, is a series of small tasty dishes instead of full course meals. A great equivalent would be something between an appetizer and a main dish.
For this style, there are a number of different options. For example, preparing bread in a series of different ways- via oven, on the grill, and even having wood boards for the guests to slice it themselves!
Several different dips will accompany the “meze style” menu which includes:
- olive oil flavoured with oregano (great with grilled bread)
- tzatziki (a sauce that has onions, cucumber and other ingredients)
- taramosalata (salted cured roe of cod, mixed with olive oil, lemon juice and others)
- skordalia (has garlic, olive oil salt and others).
There is also a number of different salads. These are the:
- “xoriatiki” (cucumber, tomato and other ingredients with feta cheese).
- “dakos” (sweet cherry tomatoes, olives, Cretan rusks and others)
Fried food and others
These include delicious fried vegetables which are a great combination with the dips we mention above.
“Spanakopita”, or small spinach pie pieces, are also a great addition. These are usually served with a dip so that guests can enjoy their savoury flavor.
Additionally, the cook can fry a delicious cheese known as “saganaki”. This is essentially feta that is roasted with herbs.
There are also a series of seafood and meat dishes which can serve as “mezes”. This can either be kalamari (squid), octopus on the grill, and pork that is slowly cooked with wine.
“Keftedes” or meatballs, are another great meze option. Cooks usually serve these delicious meatballs with a variety of dips, which makes the dish a lot more delicious.
All in all, these were several appetizer options when it comes to Greek wedding food traditions.
There is great flexibility in what the main course can include as part of Greek wedding food traditions. A few great suggestions are the selection of a large with a simple dressing such as lemon and olives that one can serve with potatoes or fried vegetables.
For those that seek to enjoy a more meat-based option, there are a number of options here as well. A great option that one often sees in traditional Greek villages is the lamb that cooks prepare in the oven with oven potatoes and pepper sauce. Additionally “lamb yuvetsi” is another great dish mention. It is essentially lamb that cooks serve with pasta, usually marinated in clay pots with tomato and sometimes served with cheese.
All in all, we suggest that couples first decide on the wedding type they want and then look at the menu aspect!
No meal can be complete without the dessert option.
Once again, there are a series of great dish varieties for desserts. This includes kataifi, baklava, karidopita (cake with nuts) that one can serve with ice cream.
Mastixa Chiou is another very popular Greek dessert that has a very characteristic flavor. It is best to try it out once before you choose to incorporate it for your wedding menu since it has a really unique flavor.
Depending on the time of the ceremony, the couple may choose to serve coffee with desserts, in order to “wake up” their guests. This is because during dining celebrations, or shortly after, dancing celebrations occur!
Finally, “loukomades” are another great dessert option. These are essentially balls made of dough that are deep-fried, and one can serve them with honey or chocolate. Additionally, ice cream can definitely accompany this dessert option, as well as cinnamon.
All in all, there are a great number of desserts one can incorporate for their wedding. Once again, it is important to remember that the wedding type you choose will greatly influence your menu options!
Other honorable mentions
A great Greek wedding food tradition dish is the traditional bread salad (individuals commonly enjoy it during the summer months). This is essentially a seafood dish – a seafood salad- to be precise, that includes scallops, calamari, mussels and crab. Cooks usually marinate it in a combination of olive oil and lemon.
As far as drinks go, there are a number of different options. These include locally made wines that can vary in sweetness, Greek domestic beers, Ouzo, Greek cognac, Retsina and liquor from Mastixa.
We mention a few Greek wedding food traditions that take place before the ceremony, or during dining time. There are a great number of different options that couples can decide on.
These different routes will ultimately depend on a variety of other factors such as the wedding location, the time of day, the wedding type and the wedding venue you are in.
All in all, Greek wedding food traditions are an exciting part of a Greek destination wedding and we thoroughly enjoy them!
If you feel that you need help to organize your wedding planning, and you want to find the perfect wedding venue, feel free to contact us! We love to help couples who consider Greece as their destination wedding choice!