Preparing for a Wedding
SETTING THE DATE
A couple desiring to be married should first contact the church office to schedule an appointment with the parish priest. It is preferable to schedule both your wedding date and meetings with the parish priest at least six months prior to the desired date so that scheduling conflicts can be avoided. Weddings may not be celebrated during the fasting seasons or the major feast days of our Church:
- Great Lent and Holy Week,
- August 1-15, (Dormition of the Virgin Mary)
- August 29 (Beheading of St. John the Baptist),
- September 14 (Exaltation of the Holy Cross),
- December 13-25. (Christmas Advent)
- Nor are marriages celebrated on the day before and the day of a Great Feast of the Lord, including Theophany (January 5 and 6), Pascha, Pentecost, and Christmas (December 24 and 25).
1. at least one of the couple to be married is an Orthodox Christian, baptized and /or chrismated in the Church, committed to Christ and His Church and an a steward.
2. the intended spouse, if not Orthodox, be a Christian baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as commanded by the Lord ( Matthew 28:19).
* Because of the sacramental nature of the marriage bond (in which a couple not only pledge their love for each other but also their love for Christ) a wedding between an Orthodox Christian and a non-Christian may not be celebrated in the Church.
3. No person may marry more than three times in the Church, with permission for a third marriage granted only with extreme cases.
The following documentation is needed to insure that your wedding will meet the criteria established by the Church and local civil authorities:
1. verification of the baptism and stewardship commitment of the Orthodox spouse(s);
2. verification of the baptism of the non-Orthodox spouse in a Christian community that baptizes in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (for example, the Roman Catholic and, traditionally, mainline Protestant churches such as the Lutheran and Episcopalian communities);
3. an ecclesiastical marriage license (click here for an application for the ecclesiastical marriage license) ; and
4. a civil marriage license.
Please note that because of the separation of Church and state, two marriage licenses are necessary, one for the Church and one for the state.
If either of the parties has been previously married, the death certificate of the deceased spouse or the civil divorce decree issued by the state must be presented to the parish priest. If the prior marriage was celebrated in the Orthodox Church and ended in divorce, then an ecclesiastical divorce decree must also be presented.
The Sponsor (koumbaros or koumbara) must be an Orthodox Christian in good standing with the Church and only they can exchange the wedding rings and crowns, if they are not members of Saint Anthony, they must provide a letter of good standing from their parish. A person who does not belong to a parish, or who belongs to a parish under the jurisdiction of a bishop who is not in communion with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, or who, if married, has not had his or her marriage blessed by the Orthodox Church, or, if divorced, has not received an ecclesiastical divorce, cannot be a sponsor. Non-Orthodox persons may be members of the wedding party.
THE BRIDAL DRESS AND ATTENDANTS’ GOWNS
Care should be taken in selecting the bride’s dress. Since the wedding crowns are an integral part of the wedding ceremony, headpieces must not interfere with the proper placing of the crowns on the brides’ head. The bridal gown and attendant’s dresses should also exercise a decorum befitting a Church ceremony.
Among the items necessary to celebrate one’s marriage in the Church are the following:
1. A pair of rings
2. A pair of “stefana” or wedding crowns
3. A pair of white candles.
4. Silver Tray (the parish can provide one)
Organ Music: Although it is not essential to the celebration of this sacrament, organ music has become a customary part of the wedding service in Greek Orthodox parishes in America. The organist may play as guests enter the Church, a processional for the wedding party and the bride and a recessional at the conclusion of the service. Please email the church office if you would like Organ Music
Chanting:, is an integral part of the wedding service in the Greek Orthodox Church as the chanter responds to the prayers and chants the hymns of the Wedding Service.
Photographs of your wedding are permitted but should not in any way impede or distract from the celebration of the sacrament.
In your meetings with the priest, which consist of at least three meetings, he will discuss the sacramental nature of the marriage bond, the Christian understanding of marriage as it is expressed in the Scriptures and the marriage service itself. In cases where one of the spouses is not Orthodox, the couple should plan to attend one of the many educational classes held at St. Anthony .