MY BIG FAT GREEK FRANCO-RUSSIAN WEDDING. PART 1
Updated: Jan 28
So after all the preparation and stress of not knowing what to expect, the D-Day has finally come. 125 people from 14 different nationalities coming from 8 countries for 2 lonely souls - a Russian and a French one - who found each other on the sandy soil of Dubai to get married in Greece.
Some people started arriving 2 days in advance before the wedding, but most were coming to our village the evening before. If the people you meet throughout your life form you as a person, seeing these people who did not know each other before come at the same place and talk to each other, felt like the pieces of the puzzle of your life finally started making sense together. Every person was brining a bit of excitement and filling us with an ecstatic energy and crazy joy. Here was my family, my friends from school, uni, business school, work and from all the countries I have ever lived in. And the same was for The Chef of course. The feeling was so strong that I had an impression that my heart would explode of happiness, joy and love. It is incredible to realize that all these people have crossed half of the world to see you at your wedding day and share your happiness. It would have been too disappointing to see them for just one night, but the model of our wedding let us enjoy the company of some of our friends for as long as one week.
The day before, we had still way too much to do and not because we badly organized, but for those who know what event marketing is, some things require your immediate action and just before the big day. Thus, we delegated: our both families, as well as our Greek friends were engaged in the preparation, but don't worry for them - they were busy, but not to the point where they wouldn't be able to benefit from the beach and the sun. Unlike us, who had to go to Sitia, one hour away from our village to save The Chef's wedding band: the day before the wedding my husband-to-be tried it... and it got stuck on his finger swollen with the summer heat! We tried everything including tying up a thread round the finger like a sausage till his finger started gradually getting blue, but nothing helped, the band wouldn't go. Sitia had nothing special in it, but it is a big enough city to have a jeweler who managed to take off the ring. While the Chef was about to faint of pain, I was discussing the last details with our decorators. Finally, the ring was off and everything was ready for the next day... or not, but it was too late anyway to stress.
So after all the worries, we finally had time to enjoy the company of our friends and family. But WHOSE friends and family: mine, his or both? Considering that our families (apart from my brothers) could not even communicate with each other without my translation (one interpreter for twenty people is a bit too much) and that I also wanted to have time to talk to the people close to me, we decided to split the day before: The Chef and the other non-Russian people organized a party at one of the guests' villas and I stayed with my Russian family in a taverna. It was the first time that at the same place there were my "Moscow family" consisting of my mother, step-father, half-sister and brother with his girlfriend, but also my real father, my half-brother, my uncle and aunt with their respective families coming from Perm, my city of origin in the Ural mountains. Despite all the family dramas - and from the list I've just presented, you might guess that there have been a few - on that day everyone was happy sitting together at the same table in a Cretan taverna. Someone once said that families reunite together only for weddings and funerals, so we'd better marry more often!
The D-Day. Preparation
After running some errands in the morning of the big day and an hour before my preparations were supposed to start, I felt so exhausted having not slept the night before, that I could hardly imagine how I would handle this whole day. All my efforts to sleep were with no success - thoughts would not stop stream-flying in my head. I was not stressed, but I was too excited to switch them off. Then the mess started despite all my efforts to organize things perfectly: the hair dresser had arrived, but none of the girls who wanted to have their hair done. In order not to waist time, I had to re-arrange the plan of the time slots that I had carefully distributed before. This and the fact that the hair dresser was not as quick as I thought she would be shifted the whole time plan and we were goddamn late! I imagined being ready one hour in advance to take beautiful pictures, but in fact once my hair and makeup were done, I already had to rush for the photoshoot as The Chef was already impatiently waiting for me outside sweating in his suit and sending angry messages. I also realized that I should have chosen better my company for the preparations: it was difficult for my mother and sister and my three witnesses to communicate because of the language barrier and the lack of natural connections between them - they hardly knew each other as we met at different steps of my life. To finish off the picture, I was running late because I was waiting for our decorator to come with my bouquet but she herself was late. Thus finally I left without the flowers, which was not a tragedy as I received them right after the photoshoot, but it was spinning up my stress.
Photoshoot and the Cocktail
The Chef was driving our white convertible Audi specially decorated for the wedding, whereas I was in the car with our photographer, one of the best friends of The Chef's sister. We stopped once we reached a secluded spot of an olive grove facing the sea. Still in the car, I was wondering whether he would not find my makeup too heavy or my dress too elaborated or even worse - God forbid - what if he hates embroidery? All the stress disappeared in thin air when we both came out of the cars and saw each other. I remember how reassuring was our first dialogue when I asked him whether he was mad at me and he looked at me, smiled and said, "No, why? You look so beautiful! How can I be mad at you?" Yes, he did not wait for me, accompanied by my father (fortunately, I didn't have to choose which one) in the aisle of the church at the sound of the Mendelssohn's Wedding March, but there was still the magic of this first encounter on the wedding day, OUR OWN magic. After a couple of shots that turned later to be absolutely stunning (I'll let you judge yourself though), we joined the rest of our guests that had started already the cocktail without us.
That is when I realized how hard it is to be a star, to be beautiful and famous... I'm joking of course! It is a great moment when you feel the queen of the ball. And it is not even at the dinner when everyone is busy eating and dancing but at the cocktail that you get the most attention to your "Bride Identity": your dress, makeup and hair. However, it is still a bit tiring to smile till you have cramps in the cheek muscles. And the food... apparently it was good, but we only saw it on the pictures a month later. The cocktail lasted longer than previewed - the priest had not yet arrived and was not answering the calls - but we only got to know it later, we were too ecstatic to worry about it. In the middle of a never-ending photoshoot, one of my best friends approached me and asked me if I wished to drink or eat anything. Oh yes, I did! A beer never tasted so fresh and good!
Till the D-day we did not know how exactly we would go to the church. Not that it was a difficult itinerary - our chapel was just five minutes walk from the taverna where we had the cocktail, but our Greek friends told us we would go there "in a Greek traditional way", but they wouldn't reveal more as it was a surprise to us. As a kid before Christmas who is searching for the gifts hidden at home (you didn't do it? I did every year since I got to know that Santa Clause did not exist), I of course asked all the Greek people I knew what a mysterious way they had to go to the church and they all told me that there was nothing special, they usually go tthere by car... I just hoped that I would not have to ride a donkey as it might smell badly. It makes my laugh when I think about it now! When the priest finally arrived, the daughter of one of our Cretan friends, together with her husband, dressed in traditional local clothes, took our hands and we started our wedding march accompanied by the Cretan music. It was not even a traditional Greek way - but an authentically our way!
I told you already in my previous article The Wedding Daze that we had done our homework and had enquired about a typical Orthodox wedding, but none of us had ever assisted to such a ceremony and it happened to be slightly different than what we expected. Despite the regimented text, I found out that the Orthodox wedding ceremony was quite liberal - you can laugh, exchange some words, hold hands and, what is most, you are not just two of you in front of the priest, but you are also accompanied by your witnesses and symbolically it makes a big difference. I loved the fact that we were outside, our guests were scattered around and we could see their faces. There was something magnificent about the light and the air at this moment: it was about 6 pm, the last hour before the sun set, the wind was mild, as if it was caressing us and the sun was dropping its rays under such an angle that the whole chapel seemed to be bathing in gold. I cannot say that I "felt out of this world" during the ceremony - no, but I definitely felt that something big and important was happening at this moment, something that I could not even quite grasp - the fact of giving your body and soul to another person.
After the ceremony was over and we were generously spread over with rice that completely killed my hairdo, our invitees formed a long line to wish us happiness and kiss us. Yes, you got it right, we had to kiss all 123 invitees! Not sure whether it was the influence of the Greeks or the French at the wedding, but I had never kissed so many people in my life!
Then we grabbed our super car and opened the cortege to go to the taverna for the dinner. And yes, one small detail that I find cool: we were four in the car and it was not planned this way, but we proposed to our photographer and the The Chef's cousin to join. Indeed, we were the newly weds and it was our wedding so we could write our own rules.