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It's A Great Life: 103 - Wedding Day

Jack Merewood thoroughly enjoyed his daughter's wedding in Greece.

Before the wedding there was naturally great activity in the
house. Unlike in England, where it is considered bad luck for
the groom to see the bride on the morning of the wedding
until she arrives at the church, here in Greece that was
unheard of. Come to think of it, perhaps in England these days
that doesn't apply so much as it used to.

Anyway, both Anne and Mike were there, Sheila busily helping
Anne to dress, and with a garland of flowers in her hair she
looked beautiful. I was happy to help Mike with his tie, an
article of clothing he wasn't used to wearing - and then they
were ready, and what a handsome picture they made.

The little church, with a Greek flag flying outside and a string
of small flags draped across the front, was full when Anne and
I arrived. Unlike in England, where the father gives the bride
away at the altar, here it was the custom for me to give Anne
to Mike at the entrance to the church, and then they went
inside together. We had already been to the church the day
before. Now it had been decorated with a huge arrangement of
roses at the altar brought by Mike's sister, Alicia. An elaborate
ornate chandelier hung over the altar. The black-bearded
papas officiated in his black robes.

There were chanted prayers which went on for a long time.
This was no hurried ceremony. A string of white beads was
placed on each of the couple's heads and they then danced
holding hands, three times around the altar. In fact everything
they did, they did three times! The papas read from a huge
brassbound bible which by custom was kissed three times.

Anne had been told that during the ceremony she must step on Mike's foot. I believe this was to impress on him who was the boss! The ceremony over, the happy couple left to be driven back to the house in a car adorned with carnations and with several tin cans trailing behind it. Stuart took the wedding
photos and they were brilliant. A professional photographer
couldn't have done a better job.

The reception was held back at the house. A happy occasion,
lots of food and drink and a beautiful cake a piece of which, by
tradition Anne had to feed to Mike. All this to the accompaniment of Greek music.

There is quite a big area around the house at Mati including a
dance floor - not a wooden one, but concrete. Mike gave a
demonstration of Greek dancing, then we all joined in, arms
locked around each other's shoulders. One guest, who by now
I fancied was a little happier than normal after several glasses
of wine, gave a demonstration of Greek dancing where he
smashed several plates on the floor - part of the dance, but I
imagined a little expensive and not something I was very keen
about.

We were on the dance floor. Suddenly the Greek music
stopped, and in its place came the strains of the 'St Bernard's
Waltz', played by Phil Kelsall on the Wurlitzer organ, in the
Tower Ballroom at Blackpool. Knowing how much I liked Phil
and the organ Anne had taken this out there to play to give me a surprise. In the middle of all the 'Greekness' here was a whiff of Blackpool. For the moment I was speechless. What a
surprise that was, and we danced the St Bernard's.

We suddenly realised that Anne had disappeared. Then she
came out of the house and stood in front of us wearing the
traditional island of Lefkas wedding costume. It was a
beautiful floor-length blue dress, trimmed with gold along the
bottom, puffed sleeves with gold bands on the arms and
wrists. Around her neck was a lovely lace shawl, and on her
head a white silk scarf. She looked a picture. It had been an
idea of an aunt of Mike's to dress her like this, for apparently
they do it at all the family weddings. We had no idea it was
going to happen. Then Anne and Mike danced together, this
time not a Greek dance but a conventional waltz as we knew
it.

It had been a wonderful day. The following year Mike was out of the Army and we held a blessing ceremony here at our own church in Netherton. Afterwards came the usual celebration, which was a big success. Mike's parents came over for the ceremony and stayed with us for a few days. We were so happy that Anne had married into such a good family.

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