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Author Topic: Wedding Ceremony - your thoughts on the theology and how to explain it?  (Read 1849 times) Average Rating: 0
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Liz
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« on: July 29, 2010, 01:45:30 PM »

Hello all,

I've not been here for so long, but I used to be a regular here while I was learning about my partner's faith. He and I are getting married in the Orthodox Church in a week and a half. I have learnt about what marriage means to an Orthodox person, and I think I have a fair understanding of the theology. However, I would be really grateful if you could help me explain and map out the ceremony in simple terms. We will have a rehearsal the night before, but I would like to print orders of service for our guests, many of whom will be very unfamiliar with the Orthodox Church. I am struggling with the wording for this, but what I want to explain is that we have already been betrothed in the Orthodox Church and that the wedding ceremony (am I right here?) confirms the promises made at that time, and the priest acknowledges the marriage before God. I also need to find a neat way to explain to the congregation (living in England so somewhat familiar with the Church of England), why it is that there are no responses from the couple contained in the service. I don't want my guests to get the wrong idea and think that the priest is 'excluding' us, or something!

I wasn't sure where to post this - I know it isn't exactly right here, but I didn't think it belonged with 'Orthodox/Protestant discussion' either. Hope you'll forgive me if it's in the wrong place.

Anyone who has a talent for clear and/or elegant phrasing, who could sum up the purpose of the service and really get across to my guests why it is celebratory and lovely, please help. I really want people to feel they understand what they're witnessing.

Thanks!
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« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2010, 02:27:23 PM »

Clear and/or elegant phrasing is not my talent, but here is Fr. Hopko's words:

Quote
According to Christ, in order for the love of a man and woman to be that which God has: perfectly created it to be, it must be unique, indestructible, unending and divine. The Lord himself has not only given this teaching, but he also gives the power to fulfill it in the sacrament of Christian marriage in the Church.

In the sacrament of marriage, a man and a woman are given the possibility to become one spirit and one flesh in a way which no human love can provide by itself. In 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.

For centuries there was no particular ritual for marriage in the Church. The two Christians expressed their mutual love in the Church and received the blessing of God upon their union which was sealed in the holy eucharist of Christ. Through the Church's formal recognition of the couple's unity, and its incorporation into the Body of Christ, the marriage became Christian; that is, it became the created image of the divine love of God which is eternal, unique, indivisible and unending.

When a special ritual was developed in the Church for the sacrament of marriage, it was patterned after the sacrament of baptism/chrismation, The couple is addressed in a way similar to that of the individual in baptism. They confess their faith and their love of God. They are led into the Church in procession. They are prayed over and blessed. They listen to God's Word. They are crowned with the crowns of God's glory to be his children and witnesses (martyrs) in this world, and heirs of the everlasting life of his Kingdom. They fulfill their marriage, as all sacraments are fulfilled, by their reception together of holy communion in the Church.

There is no "legalism" in the Orthodox sacrament of marriage. It is not a juridical contract. It contains no vows or oaths. It is, in essence, the "baptizing and confirming" of human love in God by Christ in the Holy Spirit. It is the deification of human love in the divine perfection and unity of the eternal Kingdom of God as revealed and given to man in the Church.

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« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2010, 02:41:34 PM »

^ I'm not sure that the middle paragraphs will be useful or helpful in this context.

Here is what someone gave us to use at our wedding; it is a compilation of information from other sources (including http://www.saintbarbara.org/faith/sacraments/marriage/marriage.cfm):

The Service of Betrothal
Usual Hymn: (For the entry of the Bride and Groom into the Church) Truly you are worthy to be blessed, Mother of our God, the Theotokos; You the ever blessed one, and all blameless one, and the Mother of our God. You are honored more than the Cherubim, and you have more glory when compared to the Seraphim. You, without corruption, did bear God the Logos. You are the Theotokos; you do we magnify.

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 priest then places the rings on the ring fingers of the right hands of the two. It is noteworthy that the right hands are used in the putting on of the rings, since according to all Biblical knowledge we have, it is the right hand of God that blesses; it was to the right hand of the Father that Christ ascended; it is to the right that those who will inherit eternal life will go. Thus, the Church preserves the superiority of the right also in marriage. The Sponsor as a further expression and witness that the lives of the two are being brought together then exchanges the rings three times on the fingers of the bride and the groom. A final prayer is read, sealing the putting on of the rings, which then take on the added meaning that the agreement was sealed and that God Himself enacted the marriage.

The Service of Crowning

The Joining of Hands
The Service of Crowning begins with the invocation of the Holy Trinity. After petitions are offered on behalf of the bride, groom and wedding company, three prayers are read which ascribe to God the institution of marriage and the preservation of His people through the ages. These prayers portray humanity as one continuous fabric, in which is interwoven everyone from the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, to the present generation of believers. The bride and groom enter into this fabric with the reading of the third prayer. During this prayer the celebrant joins the right hands of the two to symbolize the union coming from God. Since God is the true Celebrant of every sacrament, the priest always expresses himself in the third person. He is simply God's instrument in the service.

The Crowning
The union is then completed with the Crowning. The celebrant takes the crowns from the altar table and blesses the bride and groom in the same manner as he blessed them with the rings. He then places the crowns upon their heads, chanting: "O Lord our God, crown them with glory and honor."

The crowns have several meanings, two of which are most important. First, they conform to Biblical teachings in that God bestows His blessing upon His children in the form of crowns. Second, they identify the bride and groom as the beginning of a new kingdom, and as such they reign supreme under the Divine Authority of God, Who reigns over all. The sponsor exchanges the crowns over the heads of the bride and groom as a witness to the sealing of the union.

The service continues with the Epistle (Ephesians 5:20-33) and Gospel (John 2:1-11) readings. The readings are self-explanatory, the Epistle addressing the responsibilities of each partner in the marriage and the Gospel recounting Christ's first miracle, that of changing water to wine at the wedding in Cana of Galilee. The Church sees a pertinent relationship between the presence of Christ at that particular wedding and God's presence in the Garden of Eden. For just as the first public act of God the Father in the Book of Genesis was to unite man and woman and to bless them for the continuance of His people on earth, so also the beginning of Christ's ministry on earth was at a wedding.

The Common Cup
Following the Gospel reading and brief prayers, the common cup is presented to the bride and groom. The cup contains a small portion of wine. This is blessed by the celebrant and offered to the now wedded husband and wife as a witness that from that moment on they will share the cup of life, and whatever life has in store for them, they will share equally.

Hymn: I will take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord.

The Procession (or: The Dance of Isaiah)
The celebrant then takes the arm of the groom and leads him and his bride around the table as an expression of joy. The three-fold walk around the anti-altar is seen as a religious dance. In this respect it is an expression of gratitude to God for His blessings, and joyfulness at the receiving of those blessings. As the bride and groom are led around the table three times, three significant hymns are sung. The first speaks of the indescribable joy that Isaiah the Prophet experienced when he envisioned the coming of the Messiah upon the earth. The second reminds us of the martyrs of the Faith, who received their crowns of glory from God through the sacrifice of their lives. The third is exaltation to the Holy Trinity.

Hymns:  O Isaiah, dance with joy, for the Virgin has conceived a child, and she shall bear a Son, the Emmanuel, who is both God and man. Day at the Dawn is the name he bears, and by extolling him, we call the Virgin blessed.

You Holy Martyrs, who have fought the good fight and received crowns, entreat you the Lord to have mercy on our souls.

Glory to thee, o Christ God, the Apostles’ proudest Boast, the Joy of the Martyrs, who proclaimed to the world the consubstantial Trinity.


The Removal of the Crowns and the Benediction
When the bride and groom have returned to their original places, the Priest faces the groom and says: "Be magnified, O Bridegroom, as Abraham, and blessed as Isaac, and increased as was Jacob. Go your way in peace, performing in righteousness the commandments of God." Turning to the bride, he says, "And you, O Bride, be magnified as was Sarah, and rejoiced as was Rebecca, and increased as Rachel, being glad in your husband, keeping the paths of the Law, for so God is well pleased." Then, removing their crowns, the Priest says, "Accept their crowns in Your Kingdom unsoiled and undefiled; and preserve them without offense to the ages of ages." After this, the prayer of benediction is recited and the newly married couples depart from the Church.

Optional Hymn for the End: Glory to the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, both now and forever and unto the ages of ages.  Amen.  In the Red Sea an image of the Bride who knew not wedlock was once delineated of old.  For thereat did Moses sever the water, and herein is Gabriel the server of the wonder; at that time Israel without getting wet traversed the deep, and now without seed the Virgin gave birth to Christ; the sea after the passage of Israel remained impassable, the blameless Maid remained incorrupt after the conception of Emmanuel.  O God, the One Who Is and who ever Was and appeared as man, have mercy on us.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2010, 02:43:04 PM by Fr. George » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2010, 02:54:58 PM »

Thanks both. This is great, and I will certainly use some of it. But what I am really worrying about is, how do I explain very briefly, why the service doesn't include an exchange of rings and recitation of vows from me and my partner. I am very happy with the Orthodox theology myself, but I am concerned that my guests will sit through 30 minutes thinking 'ah yes - the priest is speaking, we'll get to the 'real thing' in a moment' - and then it will be all over!
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« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2010, 03:12:27 PM »

Thanks both. This is great, and I will certainly use some of it. But what I am really worrying about is, how do I explain very briefly, why the service doesn't include an exchange of rings and recitation of vows from me and my partner. I am very happy with the Orthodox theology myself, but I am concerned that my guests will sit through 30 minutes thinking 'ah yes - the priest is speaking, we'll get to the 'real thing' in a moment' - and then it will be all over!

The wedding service is made up of two services, the Betrothal Service and the Crowning service.  They are usually done as one service nowadays. It seems that you already had the Betrothal Service, but that is where rings are exchanged.

In the Orthodox service, the couple do not exchange vows, because  they have come to the Church to recognize God’s union in their relationship, not merely to make promises to each other.  It is not just a legal contract, it is a holy mystery.  You would not be there if you did not want to be.
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« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2010, 03:21:58 PM »

Thanks AWR. I'll try to explain that as best I can. I was wishing, perhaps stupidly, that someone here would have a good way of explaining this complex service to people who don't know a great deal about it. Naturally, we wnat to give people a glimpse of the wonder of the service (which feels very special for us), whilst also reassuring them that, although the actions they might expect won't happen (rings, promises, 'the kiss'), they are not being shut out and this is our real wedding ceremony. You see, I know some guests will not realize they are watching a wedding at all, and in my own church (Anglican), it is very important that a wedding should be a real community event.

But we'll play with words and get there in the end, I'm sure! It is hard to find the right words.
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« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2010, 04:07:03 PM »

Thanks AWR. I'll try to explain that as best I can. I was wishing, perhaps stupidly, that someone here would have a good way of explaining this complex service to people who don't know a great deal about it. Naturally, we wnat to give people a glimpse of the wonder of the service (which feels very special for us), whilst also reassuring them that, although the actions they might expect won't happen (rings, promises, 'the kiss'), they are not being shut out and this is our real wedding ceremony. You see, I know some guests will not realize they are watching a wedding at all, and in my own church (Anglican), it is very important that a wedding should be a real community event.

But we'll play with words and get there in the end, I'm sure! It is hard to find the right words.

Really, in the Orthodox POV, the promises made in the vows are implicit in the first act of the ceremony: the couple showing up at the Church, together, in front of the community, for the purpose of having their proposed union blessed from On High.  By both showing up, they are making their vow of fidelity and love publicly and before the Lord (Who knows their vow because He knows their hearts), and they are giving the community of worshipers the chance to consent or dissent to their union (an element of the two major sacraments of choice: weddings and ordination). 

And for the Orthodox, this is the only way for the vows to be manifest; any open vows imply that the vow makes the union, or seals the union.  God makes and seals the union ("What God has put together let no one rend asunder"), the people are consenting and the couple is proposing the union to the community and to the Lord.

Side note: As for the people's consent - it isn't a "Well, I think they're nice together," but is rather a, "is there any specific reason for them not to be together" - an opportunity to bring up legitimate reasons why the marriage can not (rather than should not) happen.  The only reasons that can be brought forth that will stop the wedding are issues that would make the marriage illicit or null - i.e. they're first cousins, or the one was previously married and has not secured a divorce, or the one has an affair on the side that continues parallel to the current relationship.
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« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2010, 04:40:47 PM »

I really have nothing edifying to add to this discussion, but I just wanted to say,

Yaaay! You're getting married!!!!!

(runs around waving hands in excitement!!)

Sorry, total "girl" moment there. Wink
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« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2010, 04:57:24 PM »


Really, in the Orthodox POV, the promises made in the vows are implicit in the first act of the ceremony: the couple showing up at the Church, together, in front of the community, for the purpose of having their proposed union blessed from On High.  By both showing up, they are making their vow of fidelity and love publicly and before the Lord (Who knows their vow because He knows their hearts), and they are giving the community of worshipers the chance to consent or dissent to their union (an element of the two major sacraments of choice: weddings and ordination).


Thanks Father. This really expresses what I wanted to say. I'm so grateful to you. I think if I use some o! this, my guests will really understand what we're doing, which feels great!
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« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2010, 05:03:17 PM »

I really have nothing edifying to add to this discussion, but I just wanted to say,

Yaaay! You're getting married!!!!!

(runs around waving hands in excitement!!)

Sorry, total "girl" moment there. Wink

I know! I am exactly the same at the moment - waving my hands, grinning at strangers, smiling at everyone and  so on. It's lovely. I am so touched that you're excited too - one of the saddest things is that we will only have three Orthodox people in the whole congregation. Sadly, we can't be married in the new Orthodox church in our parish, as the Orthodox bishop forbids it.

I'm hoping it will still feel very special for my partner - our priest has given us a lot of advice to help us through!

Thanks Handmaiden (no doubt, on facebook I will get even more ridiculously excited!)
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« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2010, 05:52:12 PM »

At our wedding my wife and I were not sure how well anyone was following along because most of my family are not Orthodox and all of her family are not Orthodox. We had booklets with the text of the marriage service but I wonder if it would have been better to have booklets that explained the main actions in the marriage service and their meaning so that people could have understood better why we wore crowns, drank wine and walked around a table three times.
It was such a beautiful and intense day for me.
I know it will be for you too.
I will pray for you both to have a blessed marriage forever!
P.S. I think at my wedding everyone was waiting for the end. None of them were used to standing in Church for over fifty minutes straight. My wifes grandpa said joking, "Boy you guys get a lot of work out of your pastors don't ya!"
Best wishes!
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« Reply #11 on: July 30, 2010, 12:46:37 AM »

I think it's also important to know that according to some liturgical historians, the marriage ceremony was an actual PART of the Divine Liturgy.  So hence why there are no responses from the couple themselves. They would have been a part of the liturgy itself!  Also, it is a liturgical/communal event, so everyone participates in it, including the couple.  they can feel free to sing "kyrie eleison" or Lord have Mercy!  or whatever the case might be. 

Also another good thing to know is that the marriage is unto salvation.  You are of course united in love, relationship, etc. but your wedlock begins a new christian family, home and what some theologians say the "church of the home" so you are starting your own church!  But the whole salvation aspect is very important to understand.   
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« Reply #12 on: July 30, 2010, 03:28:08 AM »

Thanks AWR. I'll try to explain that as best I can. I was wishing, perhaps stupidly, that someone here would have a good way of explaining this complex service to people who don't know a great deal about it. Naturally, we wnat to give people a glimpse of the wonder of the service (which feels very special for us), whilst also reassuring them that, although the actions they might expect won't happen (rings, promises, 'the kiss'), they are not being shut out and this is our real wedding ceremony. You see, I know some guests will not realize they are watching a wedding at all, and in my own church (Anglican), it is very important that a wedding should be a real community event.

But we'll play with words and get there in the end, I'm sure! It is hard to find the right words.

Dear Liz,

It's possible that you and I may have communicated some months ago in Another Place.  I'm so pleased to learn that your wedding is coming together.  It must be incredibly exciting for you.  God grant you both many years.

As has been said, it is more usual these days for the Betrothal and Crowning to be done one immediately after the other - I have never seen them done separately although this is the more ancient way.  I'm sure this isn't the reason but when they are done together guests do get to see the exchange of rings and, although there aren't vows, they do get to hear the priest question the couple and them give their responses.  One gentleman at my parish tells the story of how at his wedding, (in Russia - he didn't understand a word and he was the bridedgroom! - your guests should count themselves lucky  Smiley), he was asked whether he had promised himself to another woman, and he answered 'yes', causing considerable mirth among the clergy and congregation, and not to mention momentary terror to his bride.

Orthodox weddings, in my experience, tend to be less formal affairs and there's generally a familial feel about it.  Because the wedding is very much a Mystery of the Church, like Baptism and the Eucharist, in many places they are seen as primarily parish events and not social ones, even if the couple aren't regulars of the parish.  Yes, guests come but the concept of a wedding as a social event to which one must be invited just isn't there.  It's primarily a church service, like a Baptism, or the Liturgy, or a Panykhida, and it is celebrated by the parish.  So at my parish, for instance, if we do the marriage immediately after the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, you can be guaranteed many of our people will stay for it, will help ring bells, sing the responses, and so forth.  As far as non-Orthodox guests go, there's so much to take in visually that my suggestion, (which, of course, you must feel free to ignore completely as it is merely a suggestion), is to do as Lenexa suggests and produce a short booklet with the sort of introduction/explanation that you've been asking about here, and then an outline of the service, briefly explaining the various parts and their meaning, along the lines of what Fr George has provided above.  I wouldn't include the full text for them to follow along.  I saw this done once.  After the first few minutes the non-Orthodox visitors gave up and decided it was easier and much more interesting to do what the Orthodox were doing, which was to follow by simply watching what was happening, and singing 'Lord, have mercy' and 'Amen' at the appropriate points.  Perhaps include certain texts, such as the prokimen, the "I will receive the cup of salvation" at the common cup, and the three hymns for the Dance of Isaiah, along with other of the moe poetic bits and pieces.  These can then be kept as keepsakes of the occasion.

As for the kiss, it's true that it is not a part of the Orthodox marriage service, but then it isn't a part of the Church of England marriage service either, (you can scour the Book of Common Prayer and Common Worship - you won't find any mention of it).  It's simply a wedding custom in our society and there's no reason you can't ask the priest to make provision for it at the end of the service if it's something you might like to have.  In fact, because the custom in parts of Russia (also not a part of the service) is for all present to queue up and congratulate the new husband and wife with a kiss after the dismissal, it seems as though there is a ready-made place for it here.  We do it at our parish if the couple wants it.  Couples where one or both spouses are English tend to have it while those who are from countries where this doesn't happen tend not to.  The husband and wife kiss each other, then everybody else approaches and kisses them, (not on the lips, I hasten to add! Grin)

Similarly, the "giving away".  It isn't part of the marriage service in the Orthodox Church or the modern marriage rite in the Church of England (although the latter makes provision for it as an option, but this is tucked away in the notes at the back and not actually included in the text of the service itself), but is simply a wedding custom in certain parts of the world.  These are things that people in Britain are accustomed to seeing at weddings so there's no reason a father/brother/sister/close friend can't walk you into the church and symbolically hand you over.  There are no words accompanying this action but seeing it might be one more thing to make it a bit more familiar to people, without compromising the integrity of the rite itself.

I pray it will be a marvellous occasion for you both, and the beginning of a life-long, spiritually fruitful marriage.

[Shameless self-promotion]
I have composed a Prokimen and Alleluia for use at weddings. I can send them to you if you'd like.
[/Shameless self-promotion]

In Christ,
M
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« Reply #13 on: July 31, 2010, 06:24:41 AM »

^ I'm not sure that the middle paragraphs will be useful or helpful in this context.

Here is what someone gave us to use at our wedding; it is a compilation of information from other sources (including http://www.saintbarbara.org/faith/sacraments/marriage/marriage.cfm):

The Service of Betrothal
Usual Hymn: (For the entry of the Bride and Groom into the Church) Truly you are worthy to be blessed, Mother of our God, the Theotokos; You the ever blessed one, and all blameless one, and the Mother of our God. You are honored more than the Cherubim, and you have more glory when compared to the Seraphim. You, without corruption, did bear God the Logos. You are the Theotokos; you do we magnify.

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 priest then places the rings on the ring fingers of the right hands of the two. It is noteworthy that the right hands are used in the putting on of the rings, since according to all Biblical knowledge we have, it is the right hand of God that blesses; it was to the right hand of the Father that Christ ascended; it is to the right that those who will inherit eternal life will go. Thus, the Church preserves the superiority of the right also in marriage. The Sponsor as a further expression and witness that the lives of the two are being brought together then exchanges the rings three times on the fingers of the bride and the groom. A final prayer is read, sealing the putting on of the rings, which then take on the added meaning that the agreement was sealed and that God Himself enacted the marriage.

The Service of Crowning

The Joining of Hands
The Service of Crowning begins with the invocation of the Holy Trinity. After petitions are offered on behalf of the bride, groom and wedding company, three prayers are read which ascribe to God the institution of marriage and the preservation of His people through the ages. These prayers portray humanity as one continuous fabric, in which is interwoven everyone from the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, to the present generation of believers. The bride and groom enter into this fabric with the reading of the third prayer. During this prayer the celebrant joins the right hands of the two to symbolize the union coming from God. Since God is the true Celebrant of every sacrament, the priest always expresses himself in the third person. He is simply God's instrument in the service.

The Crowning
The union is then completed with the Crowning. The celebrant takes the crowns from the altar table and blesses the bride and groom in the same manner as he blessed them with the rings. He then places the crowns upon their heads, chanting: "O Lord our God, crown them with glory and honor."

The crowns have several meanings, two of which are most important. First, they conform to Biblical teachings in that God bestows His blessing upon His children in the form of crowns. Second, they identify the bride and groom as the beginning of a new kingdom, and as such they reign supreme under the Divine Authority of God, Who reigns over all. The sponsor exchanges the crowns over the heads of the bride and groom as a witness to the sealing of the union.

The service continues with the Epistle (Ephesians 5:20-33) and Gospel (John 2:1-11) readings. The readings are self-explanatory, the Epistle addressing the responsibilities of each partner in the marriage and the Gospel recounting Christ's first miracle, that of changing water to wine at the wedding in Cana of Galilee. The Church sees a pertinent relationship between the presence of Christ at that particular wedding and God's presence in the Garden of Eden. For just as the first public act of God the Father in the Book of Genesis was to unite man and woman and to bless them for the continuance of His people on earth, so also the beginning of Christ's ministry on earth was at a wedding.

The Common Cup
Following the Gospel reading and brief prayers, the common cup is presented to the bride and groom. The cup contains a small portion of wine. This is blessed by the celebrant and offered to the now wedded husband and wife as a witness that from that moment on they will share the cup of life, and whatever life has in store for them, they will share equally.

Hymn: I will take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord.

The Procession (or: The Dance of Isaiah)
The celebrant then takes the arm of the groom and leads him and his bride around the table as an expression of joy. The three-fold walk around the anti-altar is seen as a religious dance. In this respect it is an expression of gratitude to God for His blessings, and joyfulness at the receiving of those blessings. As the bride and groom are led around the table three times, three significant hymns are sung. The first speaks of the indescribable joy that Isaiah the Prophet experienced when he envisioned the coming of the Messiah upon the earth. The second reminds us of the martyrs of the Faith, who received their crowns of glory from God through the sacrifice of their lives. The third is exaltation to the Holy Trinity.

Hymns:  O Isaiah, dance with joy, for the Virgin has conceived a child, and she shall bear a Son, the Emmanuel, who is both God and man. Day at the Dawn is the name he bears, and by extolling him, we call the Virgin blessed.

You Holy Martyrs, who have fought the good fight and received crowns, entreat you the Lord to have mercy on our souls.

Glory to thee, o Christ God, the Apostles’ proudest Boast, the Joy of the Martyrs, who proclaimed to the world the consubstantial Trinity.


The Removal of the Crowns and the Benediction
When the bride and groom have returned to their original places, the Priest faces the groom and says: "Be magnified, O Bridegroom, as Abraham, and blessed as Isaac, and increased as was Jacob. Go your way in peace, performing in righteousness the commandments of God." Turning to the bride, he says, "And you, O Bride, be magnified as was Sarah, and rejoiced as was Rebecca, and increased as Rachel, being glad in your husband, keeping the paths of the Law, for so God is well pleased." Then, removing their crowns, the Priest says, "Accept their crowns in Your Kingdom unsoiled and undefiled; and preserve them without offense to the ages of ages." After this, the prayer of benediction is recited and the newly married couples depart from the Church.

Optional Hymn for the End: Glory to the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, both now and forever and unto the ages of ages.  Amen.  In the Red Sea an image of the Bride who knew not wedlock was once delineated of old.  For thereat did Moses sever the water, and herein is Gabriel the server of the wonder; at that time Israel without getting wet traversed the deep, and now without seed the Virgin gave birth to Christ; the sea after the passage of Israel remained impassable, the blameless Maid remained incorrupt after the conception of Emmanuel.  O God, the One Who Is and who ever Was and appeared as man, have mercy on us.


When my daughter was married last year in the Orthodox church we put together a program that had pretty much this same information.  I had several comments from our non-Orthodox friends that it was  helpful.  We handed that out instead of the usual Wedding Program that is popular in Protestant weddings.

If you do that, just watch for typos.  Instead of "Wedding Crowns" we had "Wedding Crows"   Roll Eyes
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Subdeacon Michael
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« Reply #14 on: July 31, 2010, 06:41:00 AM »

If you do that, just watch for typos.  Instead of "Wedding Crowns" we had "Wedding Crows"   Roll Eyes

Well, some people have doves.  I suppose this is just a variation on that theme.

M
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« Reply #15 on: July 31, 2010, 01:15:03 PM »

Thanks everyone, I've got a good idea of what to do now. Wedding crows, eh? I could start a new trend!

Subdeacon Michael - thanks so much for the information, and the kind offer. I'm afraid I can't take you up on it though, the priest and the choir have everything in hand, so I think they wouldn't appreciate new imput this late on. I'm very grateful though.
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Ebor
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« Reply #16 on: August 05, 2010, 10:09:29 AM »

Congratulations and best wishes on your marriage, Liz.

 Smiley

Ebor
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« Reply #17 on: August 05, 2010, 10:35:08 AM »

Hi Liz, congratulations on your marriage, Many Years!

When people talk about the Orthodox wedding ceremony, I always say, "the main thing about it, the Orthodox Church views marriage as martyrdom - that's why crowns. And that is so right. Ask my wife. Being married to me, she knows."  Grin
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Subdeacon Michael
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« Reply #18 on: August 05, 2010, 04:39:20 PM »

Thanks everyone, I've got a good idea of what to do now. Wedding crows, eh? I could start a new trend!

Subdeacon Michael - thanks so much for the information, and the kind offer. I'm afraid I can't take you up on it though, the priest and the choir have everything in hand, so I think they wouldn't appreciate new imput this late on. I'm very grateful though.

You're very welcome!  Glad to be of help.

M
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'There is nothing upon earth holier, higher, grander, more solemn, more life-giving than the Liturgy. The church, at this particular time, becomes an earthly heaven; those who officiate represent Christ Himself, the angels, the cherubim, seraphim and apostles.' - St John of Kronstadt
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