Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Maggie's Mykonos Wedding

Right now we’re in Ioannina in Northern Greece, about to drive up the mountain to Nick’s village of Lia on the Albanian border, but I’m hoping to post about the fabulous wedding we enjoyed in Mykonos last Saturday. (Along with Santorini, Mykonos is the hottest – and most expensive – of the Greek islands favored by the jetset— or whatever they’re called these days.)

Maggie’s grandparents are from Mykonos and the family still have the traditional patriarchal home there. The groom, Paolo—is from Italy and the bride and groom met in Boston where they now live and Paolo has a restaurant.

Maggie wanted a traditional wedding on Mykonos and we Gages were thrilled to be invited. On the day of the wedding, Maggie’s dress hung over the antique bed in her late grandmother’s bedroom. As relatives gathered in the courtyard outside the house, and two musicians entertained them with accordion music, drinks and sweets and traditional wedding songs, Maggie dressed with the help of her friends. Then she emerged from the door of the house followed by her parents and her brother, Tony, and everyone danced in the courtyard as the musicians played and a relative shot a barrage of rifle bullets into the sky.

A parade of cars took the bride and her entourage to the ancient (1786) church where Paolo waited with his family. As the bride walked through the village’s central plaza, escorted by her father, the patrons at several tavernas applauded her and both groups shouted the traditional wedding wish for the single people: “and to your (wedding)! “

Paolo, the groom, greeted Maggie at the church door with a kiss and the bridal bouquet, Then everyone went inside for the wedding ceremony which climaxed in the “Dance of Isaiah” as the couple, wearing their wedding crowns and flanked by the two koumbari (sponsors), were led by the priest around the altar three times while they were showered with rice and rose petals.

After the ceremony the newlywed couple emerged from the church and received the wishes of all their guests , who were each given the boubonieres—little white satin boxes of Jordan almonds beautifully tied with a ribbon holding a sterling silver cross or heart pendent. We Gage women have been wearing our favors ever since, because they’re so beautiful.)

Afterwards there was impromptu dancing in the village platea outside the church until a cavalcade of cars carried everyone to the Royal Mykonian hotel for a champagne cocktail hour on a terrace high above the ocean. After sunset, everyone moved to a still higher floor in the hotel—also open to the ocean view-- for a lavish buffet. The dancing, singing and toasts went on until three in the morning but for me the best part was watching Maggie and her family dancing and saluting the bride in the courtyard outside the family home.

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