Weddings have been a part of Australia’s coronavirus story since the start of the pandemic and although countless have been postponed or cancelled, some couples choose to change their plans and get married during the COVID-19 restrictions.
Maria Trovas, founder of ‘Story of Stefania’ an Adelaide based business has been creating personalised stefana (Greek wedding crowns) since 2012 and is one of the people who work behind the scenes to make these weddings happen while keeping Greek traditions alive.
“It has been a heart-breaking process for the couples I work with. Many are postponing for a second time this year. It has been an unprecedented time and people have been showing their support to local Australian businesses,” Maria tells The Greek Herald explaining that she has been handcrafting stefana for Greek weddings in Australia, US, UK and around the world.
The importance of ‘stefana’ in Greek weddings
“I have a genuine interest in the symbolisms and tradition of Greek weddings. I wanted to put a personal touch to my Greek wedding ceremony and I had the idea to personalise the joining ribbon.
“Then my mum showed me her stefana and this is where I drew my inspiration from and started creating original designs using Swarovski crystals and pearls. The first ones I made were for my mother in law’s wedding,” Maria tells The Greek Herald.
In a traditional Greek Orthodox wedding, the crowing is considered the focal point of the ceremony and the ‘stefana’ symbolize the unity of the couple. Originally, the crowns were made of materials ranging from lemon leaves to vines to gold and jewels.
“I wanted to create modern designs but I also wanted them to look traditional and timeless. I feel privileged that I handcraft something so special that couples will display in their home as a keepsake. I feel I have contributed to this generation’s stefana style,” Maria says.
How Maria’s Greek heritage and upbringing inspired her art
Maria would not have followed this career path if it wasn’t for her Greek upbringing and the close relationship she shares with her ‘yiayia’.
“Born in Florina, Greece; My Yiayia Evangelia has witnessed and survived the horrors of WW2, started a new life in Australia and created a loving family with her husband. She arrived by plane in Adelaide, in 1957 to join her mother and siblings who were already beginning their new lives and three years later, in 1960, she was introduced to my Pappou, Pavlos, who had just arrived in Adelaide from Greece.
“After three weeks they were engaged and eight months later they were married! In a new and foreign country, with not much but each other, they created a family together and were successful in their business endeavours,” says Maria.
“I lived next door to my yiayia and pappou. My childhood was spent sitting in the kitchen, watching yiayia as she busily prepared food or I would play in the backyard with pappou. Pappou watching me climbing the olive tree. These days it is my children, her great grandsons that watch yiayia Evangelia in the kitchen!
“My life has been shaped by the strong women in my life, my yiayia and my mum Theodora, they support and motivate me to achieve my dreams. I am the person I am today because of these strong women and the sacrifices they made,” Maria concludes.
*Photos by: GCanatselis Photography