Please help. I am not trying to throw stones or to criticize the Church as a whole, but I honestly don't know if I'm coming at this from the wrong perspective. I am talking about a personal situation, so don't read if you're not comfortable with that.
I am not Orthodox myself. My husband and I were told we must be must be married in the Orthodox Church, and my own vicar fully supported this. We made arrangements and sent out invitations. Five weeks before the wedding, we asked the priest if we could have a meeting about what marriage might mean in the Orthodox Church, and about how the ceremony would run. We had the meeting and went over some theology and some practical questions, and arranged to meet again a week later.
A week later, half an hour after our scheduled meeting, the priest rang my partner to cancel the meeting, and also said it was no longer possible for us to be married in the church building he'd thought of, because he hadn't remembered to clear it with the bishop in time. Naturally, we were upset, having sent out invitations with the location on them, and since there was no other venue for us to use. However, I quickly emailed my own vicar and he petitioned the bishop and the church council of my church, asking them to let us be married there, but in an Orthodox service.
The Orthodox priest never apologized, and doesn't seem to realize this was a problem - despite the fact that I had to write some very pleading letters to my own bishop and our church council, just a few weeks before my wedding! In fact, when I told him I was concerned, he simply told me that it was a foregone conclusion that an Anglican church would permit an Orthodox ceremony, even though my Anglican church was at the time not at all sure they were prepared to do so.
Finally, we arranged for a rehearsal the evening before the wedding, as the priest couldn't do it at any other time. To our surprise, when we made this appointment, the priest seemed to have forgotten all the details we'd discussed before, and needed to be reminded of them all (include the time of the wedding, whether or not we were having crowns, etc.). We hoped my parents would be able to see what the wedding might look like, so they could understand it.
We all met for the rehearsal, only to find the priest was running late, taking confessions on Saturday for the Divine Liturgy on Sunday - of course, this couldn't be helped, but we thought he might have expected it. Eventually, 35 minutes after our appointment time, my parents left so that our restaurant booking wouldn't be lost. The priest didn't apologize for being late. He once again appeared to have forgotten details such as the time of the wedding, whether we would have crown-bearers, and so on. He hadn't even checked the church would be open, considering this to be my job. He then told us we needed to pay for a choir (having not mentioned this at all before). Eventually, he told us how the service would be. We explained (as we had before), that some relatives were ill and would need to be invited to sit down.
At the service, the priest decided to announce to the congregation that they would be considered weak if they sat down. My brother's girlfriend in fact fainted during the service. He also told an inappropriate story about marriage being a time of suffering for the husband because wives nag. I was mortified, partly because of the content and partly because I had thought this would be a solemn ceremony, but the story was told in as a joke. As the service went on, it became clear it wasn't in the same order as the rehearsal, and I didn't understand what was happening - there seemed to be a lot of repetitions. Eventually, the priest came to a particular reading which, we had all agreed (including him!) would be read in Church Slavonic. He read it in English.
I am a bit at the end of my tether. This behaviour surely can't be normal. I really, really don't want to criticize a priest and wouldn't do so if I weren't so upset and confused, so please tell me if there is something I've misunderstood? I felt completely disrespected at my own wedding, and it was almost as if the priest had deliberately decided to mock the non-Orthodox people involved.