The Holy Sacrament of Marriage bears witness that through His action, God is active in our lives. It is He who joins a man and a woman in a relationship of mutual love. Through this Sacrament, a man and a woman are publicly joined as husband and wife. They enter into a new relationship with each other, with God, and with the Church. Since Marriage is not viewed as a legal contract, there are no vows in the Sacrament.
According to Orthodox teachings, Marriage is not simply a social institution, but an eternal vocation of the Kingdom itself. A husband and a wife are called by the Holy Spirit not only to live together but also to share their Christian life together so that each, with the aid of the other, may grow closer to God and become the persons they are meant to be.
In the Orthodox Marriage Service, after the couple has been betrothed and exchanged rings, they are crowned with “crowns of glory and honor” signifying the establishment of a new family under God. Near the conclusion of the Service, the husband and wife drink from a common cup which is reminiscent of the wedding of Cana and which symbolized the sharing of the burdens and joys of their new life together.
Guidelines for Getting Married
The Sacrament of Marriage is truly a “great mystery,” the mystery of the meeting of human love and divine love, the very sign and image of God’s presence with humanity. In the Old Testament, Israel was referred to as God’s “spouse,” while in the New Testament, the Church is referred to as the “bride” of Christ. These images attempt to convey in human categories what the Church Fathers refer to as the “frenzied love” of God for His people.
“A great mystery is being celebrated. How is it a mystery? They come together, and the two are made one. They have not become the image of anything earthly, but of God Himself. They come in order to be made one body; behold the mystery of love!” (St. John Chrysostom, Homily 12 on Colossians).
Marriage is much more than a merely private transaction between two individuals; it is an event in which Jesus Christ Himself participates through the presence of the sacramental minister, the priest, and that of the praying community, the church. In view of this “ecclesial” dimension of marriage, therefore, a wedding must be performed within the context of the Orthodox Church in order for the Church to recognize and affirm the validity and authenticity of the marriage.
While we include a few important notes below, there is much more involved in preparing for a wedding in the Orthodox Church, including a series of premarital counseling meetings. Please contact the Church Office for further details.
Membership – One or both members of the engaged couple must be a member in good standing of the Orthodox Church; he/she must be a pledging member and must be up to date on his/her pledged financial commitment. If one of the spouses has been previously married and divorced, he/she must present a copy of the civil divorce decree. Furthermore, if a previous marriage took place in the Orthodox Church, the divorced spouse must also have received an ecclesiastical divorce. Please be advised, this process can take a few months.
Membership for Koumbaroi (Sponsors) – The koumbaros or koumbara is the one who stands as witness on behalf of the Orthodox Church during the ceremony. Hence, it is necessary that this person be an Orthodox Christian. The koumbaroi must also be members in good standing of the Orthodox Church. If he/she belongs to another Orthodox parish, the priest must receive a letter verifying that they are members in good standing from their parish priest.
Days When Marriage May Not Be Performed
- January 5th & 6th
- Great Lent and Holy Week
- August 1st – 15th
- August 29th
- September 14th
- December 13th – 25th
- All Holy Days of our Lord (Christmas, Epiphany, Pascha, etc.)
- The eve of Christmas, Epiphany, or Pentecost.
The Orthodox Christian Faith blesses interfaith marriages with the following conditions and guidelines:
- The non-Orthodox Bride/Groom must be a Christian who has been baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity.
- The couple should be willing to baptize their children in the Orthodox Church.
- The marriage must take place in the Orthodox Church according to the prescribed form of the Service Book, the Orthodox priest being the sole celebrant.
- Should the presence of a non-Orthodox clergyman be requested, the following must be clarified:
- The Orthodox priest, after receiving permission from the bishop, will issue an invitation to the clergyman.
- The Orthodox wedding ceremony does not permit the active participation of non-Orthodox clergy, this being made explicit to all concerned.
- At the reception, any guest clergyman, will be properly acknowledged and may give his good wishes to the couple.
- The following regulations concerning interfaith marriages must be observed:
- An Orthodox priest, if invited, may attend the marriage ceremony in a non-Orthodox church, but only as a guest. He may not participate in the service nor offer any prayer.
- Non-Orthodox persons may act as ushers, groomsmen or bridesmaids at the Orthodox Marriage, but the koumbaros/koumbara must be an Orthodox Christian, as stated earlier.
- Orthodox Christians may act as ushers or bridesmaids at marriages properly solemnized in other religious communions, but they may not serve as the Best Man.
- An Orthodox Christian whose marriage has not been blessed by the Orthodox Church is no longer in good standing with the Orthodox Church and consequently is not eligible to participate in the sacraments of the Orthodox Church, including receiving Holy Communion, acting as a sponsor at an Orthodox wedding, baptism or chrismation (confirmation), or to receive an Orthodox funeral.
- A non-Orthodox Christian who marries an Orthodox Christian does not automatically become a member of the Orthodox Church, and is therefore not permitted to receive Holy Communion or the other Sacraments of the Orthodox Church nor an Orthodox funeral.
Please contact the parish office for the “marriage preparation” document, which includes checklists for pre-wedding day and wedding day preparations, information about civil and ecclesiastical marriage licenses, a list of contacts and approved vendors, and more.
Stephana, candles and wine are all available at Logos Bookstore.