THE GREEK ORTHODOX WEDDING CEREMONY
A Greek Orthodox Wedding is an exciting event enriched in culture and traditionalism. The Greek Orthodox Wedding Ceremony is an ancient service full of ritual and symbolism.
The Ceremony comprises of two parts.
- The Betrothal Service, with the official Blessings of the Rings.
- The Marriage Service, with the Crowning of the Bride and Groom.
A Priest who stands in front of the Holy Alter before a ceremonial table performs this rite. Upon the table are placed the Holy Gospel, a Cup of Wine, the Betrothal Rings and the Wedding Crowns.Two candles are lit symbolising that the Light of Christ, is a beacon to illuminate their way and a symbol of the couple's acceptance of Christ in their lives.
THE BETROTHAL SERVICE
The focal point of the Betrothal Service is the exchanging of the rings.The priest blesses the rings by holding them in his right hand and making the sign of the cross over the Bride and Grooms head saying, "The Servant of God (groom's name) is betrothed to the Servant of God (bride's name), in the name of The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit." This is repeated three times whereby the rings are then placed on the fourth finger of the right hand of the couple.The Koumbaro who is the couple's religious sponsor, better known as Best Man steps forward and exchanges the rings over and under on the same fingers three times.
THE MARRIAGE SERVICE
This Ceremony consists of several key parts. First several prayers are said and then as they come to an end, the priest joins the right hands of the bride and groom. Their hands remain joined until the end of the wedding ceremony, which symbolises the couple's union.
The Crowning Ceremony is the highlight of the Greek Orthodox Marriage Service.
The Bride and Groom are regarded as part of the "royal family" of God and are crowned king and queen of their own dominion, their new fellowship and family.The Bride and Groom are crowned with thin crowns known as stefana (stephana), which are joined by a white ribbon that are blessed by the priest. Making the sign of the cross on the Groom's forehead he exclaims, "The Servant of God (groom's name) takes as his crown The Servant of God (bride's name) in the name of The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit".
The wedding crowns / stefana symbolise the glory and honour that is being bestowed on them by God, and the ribbon symbolises their unity.The Koumbaro / Best Man then exchanges the crowns / stefana between the head of the couple three times.
THE COMMON CUP
The crowning is followed by a reading of the Gospel, which tells of the marriage of Cana at Galilee. It was at this wedding that Jesus performed his first miracle, changing water into wine, which was given to the married couple. Wine is given to the couple in a common cup for the remembrance of this miracle, whereby they each drink from the cup three times.
THE CEREMONIAL WALK
The priest then leads the couple, who are still wearing their stefana / crowns, three times around the altar on their first steps as a married couple. The Koumbaro / Best Man follows close behind the couple holding the wedding crowns in place. The Bride and Groom kiss the Bible and circle the ceremonial table three times. This is their way of recognizing the Trinity and expressing their happiness at the union of two families.
THE REMOVAL OF THE CROWNS
Once the ceremonial walk is concluded, the priest again blesses the couple and removes their crowns. He beseeches God to bless the couple with a long happy life together. The priest separates the hands of the couple, which is to remind the couple that as God has joined them, so He alone can separate them.
This concludes the Greek Orthodox Wedding Ceremony.