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What is a Greek Orthodox Wedding ceremony and what are it's symbolisms?

December 9, 2018

 

 

As a Greek destination wedding planner and as a Greek Orthodox myself, I have the privilege and honour to witness and help coordinate Greek orthodox weddings for our couples all over Greece. It's a ceremony full of meanings that I will guide you through all it's beautiful details in this article. If you are wondering whether to have an Orthodox wedding or not, I would suggest you read this article first and see if it truly represents who you both are. It is a very special service for those who believe. The service lasts 30 to 40 minutes maximum.

 

The wedding ceremony of the Greek Orthodox Church is an ancient and evocative service by which a man and a woman are united together "In Faith, and in Oneness of Mind, in Truth, and in Love".

 

The marriage ceremony is abundant with symbols that reflect the basic and important elements of marriage: Love, Mutual respect, Equality and Sacrifice .The Traditions observed today have special meanings and significance. These symbolic actions are often repeated three times stressing the belief in the Holy Trinity, in which God is represented as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

 

In the Orthodox tradition, the wedding ceremony is actually composed of two services. The first is the Service of Betrothal, or Engagement ceremony, during which the rings are exchanged. The second is the Service of Marriage or Crowning, during which prayers are offered for the couple, the crowns of marriage are placed on their heads, the common cup is shared, and the ceremonial walk takes place around the table.

Let's explain it in detail.



The Ceremony

  • Waiting of the bride

  • The Service of Betrothal (engagement)

  • The Service of Crowning / The Sacrament of Marriage The Crowning of the bride and groom

  • The Common Cup and Reading from the Gospel

  • The Ceremonial Walk

  • The Removal of the Crowns and the Benediction - The Blessing


Waiting of the bride

In the Greek Orthodox Tradition, the father accompanies the bride to the entrance of the church, where the groom awaits with her bouquet. The groom offers the bouquet to her, and takes her right hand after her father. Bride and groom then walk together down the aisle, the groom on the right side of the bride.

 

 

 

The Service of Betrothal (engagement)

In this service, the priest begins by offering petitions of prayer on behalf of the man and woman who are being betrothed. He then asks God's blessings upon the rings and proceeds to bless the bride and groom with the rings. He does this three times in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, first from the groom to the bride, and then from the bride to the groom. The back and forth movement can be interpreted to mean that the lives of the two are being entwined into one. Double wedding bands are used, since according to Old Testament references, the placing of rings was an official act indicating that an agreement had been sealed between two parties. In this case, the agreement is that a man and a woman agree to live together in the fellowship of marriage as husband and wife.

 

 

The Service of Crowning / The Sacrament of Marriage The Crowning of the bride and groom
The Crowning is the highlight and focal point of the Sacrament of Holy matrimony. The priest then takes two wedding crowns, or Stefana, and blesses the bride and groom in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and then places the crowns upon their heads. The Koumpara then interchanges the crowns three times as a witness to the sealing of the union
The wedding crowns, or Stefana, symbolize the glory and honor that is being bestowed on them by God during the sacrament. The Stefana are joined by a ribbon which symbolizes the unity of the couple and the presence of Christ who blesses and joins the couple. Through the crowns, the Christ establishes the couple as the King and Queen of their home, which they rule with wisdom, justice, and integrity. The crowns used in the Orthodox wedding ceremony also refer to the crown of martyrdom, since every true marriage involves self-sacrifice on both sides.