Categorized | Living, People, Weddings

It’s Greek to Me

By AML Publisher
Photos Courtesy of Kevin E. McPherson & Rebecca Vlastaridis

Dancing in the Streets

Dancing in the Streets

Nick Haralambau and Evelyn Bebos met in 2001, and it was pretty much love at first sight. Evelyn and Nick were introduced by a mutual friend and after just a month, Evelyn – a 20 year old Upper Darby native and Temple education major – knew that Nick was the man she would marry.

For Nick, a Philadelphia native who was in trade school earning his stripes to become a technician, the moment he met Evelyn he knew she was THE one. Their first date they grabbed coffee and went to see the newly released Ocean’s Eleven. They dated steadily and exclusively over the years, started careers and saved up for a wedding day. And then on the lucky date of 7-7-07, the couple headed to Atlantic City for a fun weekend getaway.


Bride to Be

Bride to Be

After a night of wining and dining, Nick got down on one knee (in the middle of the night) to ask for Evelyn’s hand in marriage. It took a few moments for her to realize she wasn’t dreaming. She said yes. And from there, the party planning for 300 family and friends began–culminating in a gorgeous ceremony and celebration in Philadelphia on Sunday October 26th, 2008.

But, it wouldn’t be any ordinary wedding! Both from strong Greek heritages, Nick and Evelyn’s big day would be steeped in tradition top to bottom. A big fat Greek wedding was about to take place with all the pomp and circumstance that their culture embraces. Now three months since they said their “I dos”, Nick, 26, a refrigerator tech in the city and Evelyn, 27, a substitute teacher at Charles Kelly Elementary School in Upper Darby, shared with AML the special memories of their wedding day. Evelyn, with a little encouragement from Nick, described their courtship, their countless traditional wedding details and the great Greek celebration that defined their most memorable wedding day.

How did you meet? We had a mutual friend and one day my friend brought me down to the neighborhood where Nick lives. I met Nick and all of his cousins and I thought that they were a great group of guys to hang out with. Little by little we (as a group) would go out to different bars/clubs in Philadelphia. Nick and I would flirt with each other and his cousins pushed him to ask me out. One night as we were going to a club his one cousin dared him to kiss me and Nick did. He asked for my number and we started talking on the phone. Then we went out on our first date and everything else was history.

You had a unique proposal in the middle of the night—how did that unfold? Well, as luck would have it, Nick proposed to me on 7/7/07. We went to Atlantic City for a great getaway weekend. And, I wasn’t expecting a thing–even though had been dating at that point for about 5 ½ years. When we arrived, we got something to eat and went out for drinks. Later that night, Nick waited for me to go to sleep. At about 3:00 am, he woke me up, very loudly, and all I saw in the moonlight was a silhouette of him on bended knee with the ring box! And, he told me instead of asking, “Marry Me.” It took me a few minutes to realize what was going on. I looked at him, then at the ring, and then I turned over. When I realized what was happening, I said yes and we called our families! My mother wasn’t expecting anything, actually at first she thought that I had won money in A.C.!

The dress: I bought my dress at Bridal’s by Danielle in Philadelphia–it’s designed by Marisa. The ivory satin combined with the beading at the top and asymmetrical lines sold me immediately. But, when I tried the dress on, I liked it, didn’t love it. After quite of bit of different options and a lot of discussion, the bridal consultant put the headpiece and veil on that we had picked out, and then I knew no doubt that this was the dress for me. I had one of those moments on tv when you see everyone crying.

Colors of the wedding were: Shades of fall—the bridesmaids wore copper dresses by Lazaro. The flowers, courtesy of Rieh’s Florist in Philadelphia, were in the fall family with reds, browns, yellows, and orange.

At the bride's home, it is custom to bake special bread that the bride will step on as she leaves her house for the final time.  She also tosses the accompanying wine over her shoulder as a final adieu to her single life.

At the bride's home, it is custom to bake special bread that the bride will step on as she leaves her house for the last time. She also tosses the accompanying wine over her shoulder as a final adieu to her single life.

Maid of Honor: My Maid of Honor, otherwise known as my M.O.H., was my sister Stella Bebos. I chose my sister because she is my best friend and she is always there for me.

Best Man: The best man was Billy Kontostergios. Nick picked Billy because they are best friends and they went through school together from kindergarten all the way to college.

Something old? My something old was jewelry that I received for my sweet sixteen that I had reset. My something new was my gorgeous dress! My something borrowed was a handkerchief that my grandmother made for my mother, my something blue was my garter.

What was going through your head as you were coming down the aisle? Leading up to the church I was calm and fine, but when I got to the church I started to get nervous and emotional. I wasn’t thinking about anything when I was walking down the aisle. I was looking around at the church to see who was there and the closer I was getting to the altar the more tears would roll down my face. I would see my guests crying and I would cry more. I didn’t see Nick until my father handed me over.

Waiting for his bride, Nick recalls “I was speechless. I was savoring every moment.”

Waiting for his bride, Nick recalls “I was speechless. I was savoring every moment.”

Describe the many Greek cultural traditions that were an important part leading up to your wedding day. In a Greek wedding, the week of the wedding is really when the celebration begins! The Wednesday before the wedding, the bride and groom will invite their close family members to their houses and play Greek music, drink ouzo and dance the night away. On the Thursday before the wedding, the families and friends of the bride and groom gather at their new house to make their wedding bed – otherwise known as the krevati. We had a big party at our new house and when everybody was there, everyone went into our bedroom. Any single girls from the bride’s and groom’s family make the bed-they lay the sheets, comforter and pillows. Then they ask you if you like the way they made the bed. Nick and I had to say no 2 times and throw everything off of the bed. They had to make the bed three times total. Greeks do almost everything in threes to represent the holy trinity. Then when they finally make the bed everyone throws flower petals, coins, Jordan almonds, rice, money and a relative’s child jumps onto the bed. The coins represent a strong marriage, and the child is to encourage fertility.

At the krevati, Jordan almonds are placed in little bags in odd numbers and are served on a silver tray. Because odd numbers are indivisible, this symbolizes that the newlyweds will share everything and remains undivided. We use Jordan almonds, otherwise known as koufetta, because almonds have a bittersweet taste, which represents life; the sugarcoating is added with the hope that the newlyweds’ life will be more sweet than bitter.

Evelyn recalls: ‘I fell in love with Nick after one month of dating. I had a feeling that he was going to be the one for me.’

Evelyn recalls: ‘I fell in love with Nick after one month of dating. I had a feeling that he was going to be the one for me.’

On the Friday before the wedding the groom’s father comes to the bride’s house and they exchange homemade breads or cakes. Traditionally, the groom is suppose to buy the bride’s dress and the bride is suppose to buy the groom‘s suit. Nick and I decided not to do this. But, the Friday before is when the groom’s father brings over the dress for the bride and they exchange their wedding garments. The night before the wedding is when close family and friends go to the bride’s and groom’s homes and they dance and drink the night away.

On the day of the wedding, the bride writes the names of her single girlfriends on the bottom of her shoe and whoever’s name is left on at the end of the night is suppose to get married next. At the groom’s house, the Koumbaro and Koumbara, who were Nick’s godparents, came over. Nick walked with his best man up to the corner of the street and greeted them with wine. Then there was a clarinet player who played music while everyone danced down the street to the groom’s house.

Service of Betrothal

The wedding ceremony itself is divided into two parts: the Service of Betrothal and the Ceremony of the Sacrament of Marriage. The exchanging of rings is the focus of the Service of Betrothal. The priest blesses the rings by holding them in his right hand and making the sign of the cross over the heads of the bride and groom. The rings are then placed on the third fingers of their right hands. The Koumbaro, the couple’s religious sponsor, who traditionally is the groom’s godfather, then swaps the rings over between the bride and groom’s fingers, three times.

Ceremony of the Sacrament of Marriage

This Ceremony consists of several key parts. First, several prayers are said and then as they come to an end, the priest joins the right hands of the bride and groom. Their hands remain joined until the end of the wedding ceremony, which symbolizes the couple’s union.

The newlyweds on the steps of Saint George Greek Orthodox Cathedral, savoring the moment with their bridal party.

The newlyweds on the steps of Saint George Greek Orthodox Cathedral, savoring the moment with their bridal party.

The Crowning

The bride and groom are crowned with thin crowns, called stefana, which are joined by a white ribbon and have been blessed by the priest. The crowns symbolize the glory and honor that is being bestowed on them by God, and the ribbon symbolizes their unity. The koumbaro then exchanges the crowns between the heads of the couple, three times.

The Common Cup

The crowning is followed by a reading of the Gospel, which tells of the marriage of Cana at Galilee. It was at this wedding that Jesus performed his first miracle, changing water into wine, which was then given to the married couple. Wine is given to the couple and they each drink from it three times.

The Ceremonial Walk

The priest the leads the couple, who are still wearing their stefana, three times around the altar on their first steps as a married couple. The Koumbaro follows close behind the couple holding the stefana in place. The Koumbaro needs to keep the stefana in place because if they fall it’s bad luck for the bride and groom.

The Removal of the Crowns

When the ceremonial walk has ended, the priest blesses the couple, the crowns are removed and he then separates their previously joined hands with the bible, reminding them that only God can break the union which they have just entered into.

The most unexpected part of our wedding was: When we left my parents’ house to go to the church I had a SUV limo for the bridal party and a small car for my father and I. On the way down to the church the SUV broke down around 30th Street Station. My driver didn’t tell me what happened until we were almost at the church. He told me that they were just having car trouble. I was at the church by 3:15 and my bridal party didn’t show until about 3:40. The priest said that it was a first for him that the groom was at the church, the bride was at the church, but half of the bridal party was missing. I was just waiting inside the car waving to my guests who were arriving. When the bridal party arrived, they were laughing saying that they had so much fun waiting for a new limo go to pick them up. They were good sports about it and luckily the weather was great that day!

Reception: Hilton, City Line Avenue

Number of people at the reception: 300

First Dance: Mystiko by Peggy Zina, a well known Greek singer

Honeymoon: Nick and I wanted to go somewhere in the Caribbean and we decided to go to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. We stayed at an all-inclusive resort, Dreams Resort and Spa. We stayed 8 days and seven nights. We had a beautiful room with a private balcony which had our own Jacuzzi, a living area, bedroom and bathroom. The weather was beautiful, the ocean was crystal blue and warm, the staff was friendly and the entertainment was great!

The best part of my wedding day was… The celebration, everyone was having a great time and almost everyone stayed until the end, which was great because we had a Sunday wedding. I thought that guests would leave early because of work, but most of them didn’t.

Evelyn explained: ‘Money is traditionally thrown at the bride and groom at the reception out of joy that the guests are having. If the band is good and everyone is having a good time more money will be thrown. Most of the money thrown will be given to the band as a tip.’

Evelyn explained: ‘Money is traditionally thrown at the bride and groom at the reception out of joy that the guests are having. If the band is good and everyone is having a good time more money will be thrown. Most of the money thrown will be given to the band as a tip.’

Now that we are married, I am looking forward to… Starting a family.

The one thing I love about being married is… Spending every day with the man that I love.

In 50 words or less describe your new wife: My wife is a well grounded person. She is a very responsible and respectful person. She is well liked and will make you feel at home. She is very organized and never waits until the last minute for anything. She has amazing cooking skills!

In 50 words or less describe your new husband: My husband is a very hard working person. He is a caring and loving husband. He is an athletic man who loves to play soccer. He always keeps a smile on my face. He is always on time and never keeps you waiting.

What advice would you give other brides and grooms about to be married? Enjoy your engagement and the planning of the wedding. When the big day arrives, enjoy every minute because before you know it, it will be over. Don’t let anything ruin your day. Let the little imperfections slide and tell yourself that you are marrying the person of your dreams.

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1 Comments For This Post

  1. vasiliki griva Says:

    this was just perfect! your life in an article! I should have interviewed u!!!

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