Marriage or a Wedding in Greece

I'm honored to publish a guest blog article written by a professional celebrant, Sarah Hatjipavlis of Grecian Ceremonies. She thoughtfully shares the differences between marriage and a wedding ceremony, as well as what each option can make available to you and your partner. Sarah has been living in Greece for years longer than I have, and she's brilliant when it comes to finding out exactly what you need to know in order to coordinate a destination wedding ceremony in this beautiful country in the southeastern corner of Europe.

When planning a destination wedding in Greece, it is very important to understand the difference between a marriage and a wedding. This can be key information to assist you with how you plan your wedding ceremony in Greece.

So, what is the difference between a marriage and a wedding? What does this really mean to you as a couple when you are planning to travel half the way across the world for a destination wedding in Greece?

What is a marriage?

Marriage is defined as a ‘legally or formally recognised union of two people’ and that is precisely what it is, the legal bit. The part where you sign on the dotted line and are officially recognised as partners for life.

What is a wedding?

A wedding is defined as the ‘ceremony or celebrations and any accompanying festivities and nuptials’ to celebrate the marriage.

Now we have the boring bit out of the way, it is time to show you how this important information will assist you with planning a destination wedding in Greece.

Planning a destination wedding or an intimate elopement in Greece

A legal marriage in Greece can only be officiated by a Priest in Church, or the local registrar and, in either case, requires all the official documentation translated and legally stamped/apostilled. The paperwork needed can vary from place to place, Island to Island and a civil marriage can only take place at an authorised venue, such as the local town hall, or venues approved by the authorities. Once you have submitted all the documents at the appropriate time, you will have a legal marriage in Greece, accompanied by the standard civil ceremony. The list of paperwork required is different for all nationalities. It must be mentioned here that LGBTQ marriage is not legally recognised in Greece.

Legal marriage in Greece and a civil ceremony

The civil ceremony in Greece is the same for locals and foreigners alike. It is a simple generic script, which includes a ring exchange, vows, and the signing of the official registry. It takes about 10 minutes, will be performed by the local registrar, often the mayor of the municipality or their representative, it is read out in Greek and will be translated into your language by your wedding planner. Normally you can include a reading that will have been selected by the authorities and you can personalise your vows.

My wedding ceremony is the most important part of my day, are there other options?

What if I were to tell you that you could have a unique wedding ceremony anywhere in Greece, created and performed by a professional wedding celebrant! A wedding ceremony without any restrictions, which can be the ceremony that you always dreamed of. A celebrant doesn’t just show up on the day and read a generic script, they get to know you as a couple and will be beside you all the way during your wedding planning journey. Known in the industry as a symbolic wedding, there is nothing symbolic about it. It is the ceremony to celebrate your marriage. Find a celebrant who suits you, someone that you like. It is important to make this choice early on during the planning phase.

A bride and groom at a Greek-Egyptian ceremony in Greece, facilitated by Sarah Hatjipavlis, the celebrant of Grecian Ceremonies