Greek Orthodox Koumbaro and Koumbara:
In a Greek Orthodox Wedding Ceremony, the bride and groom stand in front of the altar. Next to the bride and groom stands the bridal party along with a Koumbaro and/or Koumbara.
A Koumbara is the title that is given to the female sponsor or witness of the couples sacrament of marriage. It is sometimes compared to being similar to a
maid of honor or
matron of honor.
A Koumbaro is the title that is given to the male sponsor or witness of the couples marriage sacrament. This role is sometimes referred to as the
best man as it functions in a similar role.
A Koumbara and Koumbaro have the most significant roles in an Orthodox wedding ceremony and although they may be the ones responsible for planning the bachelor/bachelorette parties and bridal shower, their importance to the couple and to the ceremony are much greater than just that.
The Koumbaroi (that is plural for more than one Koumbaro/Koumbara) usually have a large financial obligation in that they are the ones who typically purchase the stefana (wedding crowns), the wedding lambades (candles) and the boubounieres (wedding favors).
Every Greek bride and groom decides how they want their wedding to be. Some, like me, have opted to have a koumbaro, koumbara, best man, maid of honor (and I had a matron of honor). At some of the Greek weddings that I have attended, some have just had a koumbaro or koumbara and no best man or maid of honor. There are other non-traditional ways that the financial responsibility is allocated for instance, the koumbaroi might pay for the stefana (wedding crowns), the wedding lambades (candles) and the bride and groom pay for the boubounieres (wedding favors).
In the Greek tradition, koumbaroi are considered family and the next responsibility for the koumbaro or koumbara after the wedding is to become Nouno (Godfather) or Nouna (Godmother) to the first born child. There are times that this does not happen but that is not the
normal rule of thumb.
One last important thing to know about the Koumbaroi at a Greek wedding is that they must be of the Eastern Orthodox faith and have been baptized in an Eastern Orthodox church. In preparation for a Greek wedding, the koumbaroi are asked to present their Eastern Orthodox baptismal certificate or if the chosen koumbaroi are a married couple, they are asked to provide their Eastern Orthodox marriage certificate.
In the US, the Koumbaroi are also the people that sign the marriage certificate as the
witnesses to the sacrament of marriage.
So what do you think? Is the role of a Koumbaro or Koumbara the same as the maid of honor or best man?