The Orthodox Wedding Service
In this blessed Sacrament of Marriage, the bride and groom shall become one, through the grace of the Holy Spirit...one spirit and one flesh in a way which no human love can provide by itself. In a Christian marriage, the Holy Spirit is given so that what is begun on earth does not “part in death,” but is fulfilled and continues most perfectly in the Kingdom of God. As matrimony can be entered into only with the mutual spontaneous consent of both parties, the order of the Sacrement of Marriage consists of two rites - that of betrothal and of matrimony.
Prayer for Cleansing As the bride and groom approach the doors to the church’s nave, the priest asks the Lord to purify them and preserve them undefiled by sin and the works of the devil until their last day and hour.
Exchange of Rings The priest places the rings into the bride's and groom's hands. The couple exchanges the rings three times. The priest places a ring on the groom's right hand and declares him betrothed to the bride. The priest then places a ring on the bride's right hand and declares her betrothed to the groom. The priest ties the right hands of the betrothed couple to signify their bond to each other.
The Rite of Crowning (Matrimony)
Procession Having been betrothed, the bride and groom are led by the priest up the aisle with their right hands bound to confirm their union. They have already cleaved to one another when they became betrothed, thus there is no “giving away” of the bride. The choir sings Psalm 127 during this procession. This reminds the couple that those who walk in the ways of the Lord shall be blessed, and that a pure life in God shall be the formula for a long and abundant life together. The couple then stands at the front of the church upon a clean, new sheet.
Epistle to the Ephesians, 5:25-33 Saint Paul admonished husbands to love their wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, so that it should be holy and without blemish. A husband shall love his wife as himself. Just as Christ and the Church are one, a husband and wife shall become one flesh.
Gospel According to Saint John, 2: 1-11 There was a marriage in Cana of Galilee. The Mother of Jesus was there, as were Jesus and his disciples. They had no wine so Jesus commanded that the servants fill six pots with water and that they be drawn out and brought to the governor of the feast. The water had been made into wine. This was the beginning of the miracles performed by Jesus, thereby bearing witness to His blessing of the wedding feast. Crowning Just as the Church teaches that the martyrs of Christ are crowned for their fidelity and struggles for Christ, so is the couple also crowned, having become “rulers” over a new generation of the human race. Crowns are placed above the heads of the bride and groom to indicate their victory over the passions and the sanctification of their union.
The Eucharist The couple then partakes of the precious Body and Blood of Christ. The bride and groom take Communion while the choir sings: “I will take the cup of salvation, and I will call upon the name of the Lord. Alleluia.”
The Common Cup After the bride and groom have partaken of the Holy Eucharist, the priest brings forth a cup of wine. The bride and groom each drink the wine from this cup three times. The common cup is then broken to prevent any others from partaking of this cup, symbolizing the couple’s union.
The Procession Immediately after the bride and groom drink from the common cup, the priest takes them by their right hands, which they hold together. He leads them in a circle around the lectern on which the gospel is placed while the choir sings: “O holy martyrs, who suffered well and were crowned, entreat ye the Lord that our souls may be saved.” This symbolizes the solemnity and indissolubility of the conjugal union - like a circle, it is without end.
Instruction and Departure The priest provides the bride and groom with an instruction from the Holy Fathers of the Church on how Christians are to conduct themselves in wedded life. After the instruction, the priest offers the Cross of Christ to be kissed by the bride and groom, and then, having shown their love for Christ, they offer the same symbol of their own holy and sanctified love by kissing each other. The prayers and bows of Departure are conducted and the Ceremony is concluded.
After the ceremony please feel free to move to the front of the church to congratulate the bride and groom and proceed through the receiving line. We welcome your greetings and congratulations but prefer you refrain from expressing them with clapping, as it is not considered proper inside the body of the church.