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Greek Orthodox weddings are steeped in tradition and rituals. Non-Greek guests can watch and learn about the meaning of the ceremony’s segments such as the crowning of the couple and the eating of the koufeta -- sugar-coated almonds. Bring a gift for the newlyweds that is as traditionally Greek as the wedding. Alternatively, purchase something small to mix a bit of tradition in with a gift from the couple’s registry to honor their heritage.
Stop by your local Greek Orthodox Church and ask if the neighborhood has a Greek store. Some churches have their own store where they import gifts from Greece for their parishioners. The stores offer handmade home décor items such as olivewood bowls and religious statues. If the wedding is taking place at the church in your town, ask if its store has a gift registry for the couple. Greek schools may also have a store where students' families shop for gifts from Greece. Check to see if a Greek festival will be held before the wedding. Greek festivals often draw vendors selling handmade Greek gifts and jewelry that you may not be able to purchase locally.
Add a bit of Grecian flair to a gift from the couple’s modern registry by including some Greek cookies or sweets. Stop by a Greek restaurant or bakery and purchase a cake, cookies or baklava. Ask before gifting bread to a couple, as in some parts of Greece, this is a traditional gift at funerals. Traditional weddings sometimes have a pastry table at the reception where you can contribute your cake or sweets as a portion of your gift. If your community does not have a Greek bakery, ask if a traditional bakery can make Greek recipes, or try your hand at Greek baking by creating a few confections yourself.
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Many Greek brides receive jewelry as a wedding present. It's traditional to give religious or Greek-themed pieces such as necklaces with a cross pendant or a Greek key design. Jewelry featuring a Greek key has a geometric design consisting of a continuous line of interlocking rectangles. Select a piece of jewelry that features the "mati" to ward off evil spirits. This is a small, blue eye -- often called an “evil eye” -- commonly seen on Greek bracelets, necklaces and earrings.
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One of the oldest traditional Greek gifts is money. In parts of Greece, and in earlier times, wedding guests pinned small denominations of money on the bride’s gown as she danced after her wedding. Today, it is rare that brides practice that tradition, but guests do give envelopes with a check or cash to the groom or the best man, the "koumbaro." Select a lovely wedding card to go with your gift or wrap the cash in a small, ornate box. Occasionally, a Greek bride performs the money dance, so don't come to the reception with an empty wallet.
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