So, its about 9am on Saturday morning, and the continental breakfast ends at 10... which means Steph and I have to get up. Its hard to do, though, getting up at 4am the previous morning, going to bed at 11pm the night before with shoe shopping, Denny's, wedding rehearsal and some great snapper in crab sauce filling up our day. But the call of waffles, bagels and yogurt call to me.
After breakfast, we just kill some time reading and watching television (actually, Stephanie went back to sleep, asking me to wake her up around 1215pm). The plan is for Steph to get ready for the wedding and me to drop her off at the church by 2pm (for pictures) and I'd go out and grab lunch, go get ready and be back by 4pm. So, that's what I did... and on the way back, I got some Whataburger for lunch... and man, what a burger! And Steak-n-Shake is tomorrow... I love my life.
Back to the Fairfield Inn, I lounged for a while, finally showering, getting ready and getting my suit--and my shoes--on, then headed to the wedding. I arrived around 4ish, and met up with Jason Foley, husband of high school pal of Steph and bridesmaid Lesley. Mike and Ken were ushering, so they were in the back, while Suzie (another bridesmaid and high school pal of Steph, DeLisa and Lesley), Melissa, Nicole and Steph were around somewhere.
Even after I spent several paragraphs on shoe shopping in my previous column, I've rushed through the pre-wedding stuff for a reason: I want to get to the wedding itself. We're in a beautiful church, the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, with high, awesome stained glass window, a gorgeous mosaic dome of Christ and all around just a very sacred, peaceful place to be.
In the Orthodox Church tradition, the ceremony is actually two services in one, the first is the Service of the Betrothal, and the second being the Service of Crowning. The exchange of Rings is next, followed by The Candles, the Joining of Hands, then the Crowning, the Common Cup, the Procession and the Removal of Crowns and Benediction.
The Service of Betrothal
The wedding starts, and you see the traditional procession... Nick, the groom, comes out with his groomdawgs, then one by one, the bridesmaids come down. The ringbearer, plus a crown bearer, then the flower girls, and finally, the bride. And DeLisa is a beautiful woman, and she looked ravishing in her dress. I told Steph later that it was sad... with Steph in the wedding, its another wedding where the bride is the second prettiest girl in the room. (I told that to Jill when she was marrying Tom, as Steph was coming in... she didn't find it amusing. I thought it was hysterical).
Anyway, The Impressive Clergyman appears, and begins to pray over Nick and DeLisa... and there's alot of chanting. He chants a little, and a guy off to the side, who is seems has a book in front of him (the Word? I dunno) is also chanting. I hear lots of "And to the Loooorrrrdd weee prrraaaayyyy..." all during the ceremony. Actually, I never bow my head during any prayer, simply because I'm afriad I'll miss when its over.
The Impressive Clergyman continues The Service of Betrothal by blessing the rings, which are then exchanged three times by Nick and Delisa. This symbolizes the lives of two being intertwined into one, and they are assisted by someone called The Koumbara (a girl named Vicki--I think its Nick's cousin) who is standing nearby. This is not Vicki's profession, mind you... Nick has asked her to be The Koumbara at the wedding here.
The Candles & Joining of Hands
The bride and groom are then handed candles, which they hold through the ceremony. Then Nick & DeLisa's right hands are joined, as the Impressive Clergyman chants "Join these thy servants, unite them in one mind and one flesh". The hands are kept joined during the service.
The Crowns are actually two rings resembling wreaths, with one long ribbon running from one to the other, connecting them. The Impressive Clergyman holds the crowns over the heads of Nick & DeLisa and chants another prayer. Whats cool is that some in the Orthodox Church refer to the crowns as symbols of martyrdom, since every true marriage involves immeasurable self-sacrifice on each side.
The Common Cup
There's a doorway at the back of the podium area, a wide door that you can peer into and see a large statue of the Christ. Behind it, you can see all sorts of artifacts and paintings and such, but its a doorway that I'm guessing you really can't go in... I told Jason it looked like a Jesus Shadowbox. I wanted to go look before the service, but I thought better of it... anyway, The Impressive Clergyman goes into the Jesus Shadowbox and when he reappears, everyone stands up. He begins to read from John 2, the story of Jesus turning water into wine, known as His first miracle. A cup of wine is poured and shared by Nick and DeLisa.
Sidebar: This was my first Greek wedding, coming less than a year after my first Catholic wedding... Steph's friend Suzie got married in Mobile last fall in a large Catholic church--I actually got to be part of it, carrying a candle thingy down the aisle in the opening procession. Anyway, during the rehearsal, I snuck to the back of the church and was able to go into their "Jesus Shadowbox" room. There was a staircase leading down, which of course, I took, and it put me into a small prayer room. I quietly made my way back up the stairs, then found another staircase leading up... I climbed and found myself in the church attic, with a coll maze of ladders, rafters and a large room with the only light being a stained glass window. It was almost creepy. Some chick who's husband was in the wedding also up there to look around. We chatted for a second, but with it being really, really hot up there, plus it was obvious she wanted me, I came back to the sanctuary.
Thought it was worth mentioning.
The Impressive Clergyman leads them in a circle around a table, a table that has the Gospel and the Cross on top of it. It is here they are taking their first steps as a married couple. They are led around the table three times... after the second go round, The Impressive Clergyman whispers to Nick "That's two, right?" Nick smiles and says "Yes, thats 2." Its also funny to watch Suzie, the matron of honor, and Vicki the Koumbara both work on keeping DeLisa's dress train flowing with the walk.
The Removal of the Crowns and Benediction
A prayer/chant is then said first to Nick, then to DeLisa, and then The Impressive Clergyman removes their crowns. The prayer of Benediction is recited, then The Impressive Clergyman lifts up the Gospel and parts Nick & DeLisa's joined hands... this symbolizes that only God has the right to separate the couple physically from one anohter.
Finally, the Impressive Clergyman steps back, and the Baptist part of the wedding transpires. Rev. Chris Estes steps up and leads DeLisa and Nick through wedding vows. They say the vows, Estes sits down, and The Impressive Clergyman then announces Mr. & Mrs. Nick Pournaras.
And now we're off to the reception... which will be highlighted in tomorrow's conclusion to Mobile's Big Fat Greek Wedding