Maria and John’s love story began in 2015. Three years later, the young, charming man decided to pop the question to his beautiful lady and on the 30th of June at the National Hellenic Museum in Chicago, they celebrated their traditional Greek engagement party.
Recalling the moment John proposed, Maria, says he surprised her with a trip to New Orleans, which didn’t seem too out of the ordinary, as they travelled often and it was not unlike John to just book a trip. New Orleans is also John’s favourite US city and were eager to go together.
The morning after they checked themselves into a boutique hotel, the Henry Howard in the Garden District of New Orleans, John kept waking up and being restless. Maria turned over and he asked her if she loved him, “Yes I love you, why are you asking so early?” she asked and when Maria finally opened her eyes up, she saw something sparkling and that is when he asked her if she would marry him.
Maria says she was “ in shock! I loved that he did it his way and really he just couldn’t wait any longer. It was perfect, and when we landed I went home to a surprise engagement party with our immediate family at the house. It was the best feeling to have everyone there to celebrate with us, and they were so excited that the secret was out.”
Maria says her parents “had an engagement party with 400 people, their cake was larger than most wedding cakes. They wanted to make sure tradition stayed alive within our families, and they were quick to do the same for us.”
The stunning bride-to-be wore a Marchesa Fall 2018 couture runway gown featuring silk and organza sash, which was an honour for her to be the muse for, paired with stunning modern white Dior slingback pumps, purchased from Dimitras Bridal Couture. John wore a custom-made navy double-breasted suit and tie, Gucci loafers, and a Hermes Pocket Square.
Maria and John’s families believe in holding onto Greek traditions and customs, no matter how outdated they may seem. At the engagement party, each member of the family gifted the engaged couple something different, which they will cherish forever.
“John received a gift from my parents, a GMT Rolex. I was gifted lires, which were passed down from my Pappou. A lira is an ancient currency, distinguished by its gold appearance in the shape of a coin. My Pappou started the tradition to have lires made into jewellery to be passed down. Our family only has a few loose ones, and before he passed he made sure to leave some for his grandchildren. My parents made me a beautiful pendant with a diamond bezel, a matching bangle, and a 24k gold ring with blue sapphire edging. My mother in law to be gifted John beautiful cufflinks for the wedding day, and a jaw-dropping freshwater pearl necklace along with gold and pearl huggies for me. These were special to me because pearls were my birthstone. Our Koumbaroi passed down a stavro (cross) to John, which was very sentimental to him because it was a mold of his Pappou’s cross. John and his Pappou were very close, sharing a birthday and parallel interests in the culinary world. They shared many mutual traits, so this was a gift John was very shocked to receive. He wears it every day now,” Maria said.
“It was a moment we will never forget, and we are so happy we followed in the footsteps of our traditions. Our Pappou’s were in remembrance at that moment and we felt their presence in the blessing on the road to our first steps as husband and wife. Having our families bless us not only with their kind words but with something as sentimental as a piece of jewellery is something we could never exchange for any pot or pan in the world. These will be gifts that will be in our families for years to come, and that is irreplaceable,” the couple added.
Their engagement party was a small slice of Greece. They had seafood towers, passed hors d’oeuvres, stationed appetizers, frose cocktails, Mastixa shots and Ouzo flowing all night, and a stunning Greek dessert table. John’s mother made all the desserts and styled the table, which included Samousathes, which is a traditional pastry from Laconia and Diples, typically served at engagements and weddings.
With both of Maria’s parents from the island of Chios, they incorporated the traditional dance from the region at their engagement. “The customary dance is called the politiko syrto. Syrto, deriving from the Greek word “syro” meaning to pull or, more accurately, to lead, is characterised by its rhythm and is danced in sets. Traditionally, the couple begins to dance and family members and guests one by one begin to cut in and dance with the bride. The song continues until the groom comes back to grab his bride. While this is happening, everyone begins to throw money on the dance floor. The money is to be put towards the couple’s life together, and gets thrown all night long.”
And just in case anyone was still hungry at the end of the night, especially after the endless Greek dancing, the couple had arranged for traditional pites- souvlakia, tzatziki, tomato, mustard and onions, topped with French fries to be delivered.
The loved-up couple has chosen to get married in Chios next summer, on August 17th in 2019.
Η Ώρα η Καλή!
*Photo credit: bassos weddings