A May wedding in Marpissa seemed an attractive choice for Steven and Samantha. Steven’s parents Alan and Dorothy would be staying at their summer home in Piso Livadi, so why not ship out Samantha’s family and a few friends for a simple wedding at the local koinotita (town hall). The photographs would certainly be different to a typical English wedding, with palm trees and bouganvillias in the square against the Cycladic white houses and the splendid new marble entrance to the town hall. At least they could be sure it would not rain!
The standard Greek wedding ceremony comprises a very short passage read in Greek by the Mayor. (This was translated into English prior to the wedding and is now available in Marpissa for future use.) Then the groom is asked in Greek if he will take the bride as his wife and likewise the bride asked if she will take the groom as her husband.
For Steven and Samantha it seemed that this alone would be a little bit too brief for their wedding ceremony and they asked permission for a Christian friend living here on Paros to lead a short service along the lines of the familiar “We are gathered here in the sight of God to join together this man and this woman in holy matrimony . . .”.
A passage from the Bible was read - Ecclesiastes 4 v 9-12 “Two are better than one . . . but a cord of three strands is not quickly broken”.
Before the official wedding they each confirmed that they understood “the solemn and binding nature of the marriage they were about to undertake” and Samantha’s father, Martin, emotionally gave his daughter’s hand to Steven as he was asked “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?”
After a short blessing the Mayor arrived, right on cue, to perform the official wedding ceremony. Afterwards a reception was held at Anna & Giorgos Taverna and the guests danced until dawn, in the best Greek tradition.
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For any other foreigners visiting or living on Paros thinking of doing the same, the following documentation was required.
Step 1 - Obtain the following documents from the Greek Embassy in your country of origin. In the case of Steven and Samantha the Embassy was in Holland Park Road, London.
Document A - An official Greek translation of both the bride and groom’s birth certificates with a photocopy of the original English certificate attached and stamped by the Greek Embassy.
Document B - Obtained from the British Local Registry Office - a Superintendent Registrar’s Certificate of “No Impediment to Marriage, again, one for the bride and one for the groom. This should be attached to the Greek Embassy Official Translation document, duly stamped and authorised.
Step 2 - Arrange the time and date of the wedding at the koinotita, in this case, Marpissa. 8.30pm was the earliest evening option available.
Step 3 - At Least 10 Days Before the wedding date, the bride and groom must bring documents A and B together with their passports to the Koinotita office to allow the wedding to be posted publically.
Several forms have to be completed in Greek at this point so someone who can act as interpreter is recommended to accompany the bride and groom. Two other witnesses are also required to sign the various documents.
Step 4 - The Day Before the wedding, the bride, groom, best man and one other witness complete further forms, one of which required the purchase of a 100dr hartosimo (tax stamp) from the shop opposite.
Step 5 - Half an Hour Before the wedding another form is signed by the bride, groom, best man and another witness. (In the case of Steven and Samantha, she was spared this administrative interruption to her grand entrance to the sound of the “Wedding March” on the arm of her father and permitted to sign when the wedding was over).
Step 6 - The Day After the wedding the Greek Wedding Certificate was issued. This took the form of a photocopy of the entries made in the Marpissa Parish Register, duly stamped and authorised. This had to be taken to the Greek Embassy in London for an English version to be issued.
A fee of 5,000drs was paid to the Marpissa Koinotita.