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Author Topic: Wedding ceremony help  (Read 2045 times) Average Rating: 0
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lyndseynichole
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« on: April 26, 2011, 03:57:01 PM »

My fiancee is Greek Orthodox and i currently am not. I am willing to convert and am in the process of it with our current church. However, when it comes to our wedding ceremony we are torn. My family and I want the traditional American wedding and he and his family wants us to have an Orthodox wedding. Is there a way to have both? Have the traditional wedding on one day and the Orthodox wedding the next? Would that be recognized by the Orthodox church? As I said, I am in the process of converting already, I just would prefer to have the traditional wedding along with an Orthodox wedding. any suggestions are welcome!
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« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2011, 04:04:05 PM »

The best advice I can give you is talk to the priest - have you begun your premarital counseling yet?
The Orthodox wedding ceremony is very different from the "traditional American" wedding ceremony. Since marriage is a Sacrament, an Orthodox Christian must be married by an Orthodox priest in an Orthodox Church. This is not "optional." If this doesn't happen, your husband-to-be will not be considered "in good standing" by the Orthodox Church.
This may not mean much to either of you right now, but based on my experience and observation, it will mean a whole lot later on, especially when you have children and especially to his family.
In any case, talk to the priest. He will be able to explain it much better than I.
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« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2011, 10:47:38 PM »

My fiancee is Greek Orthodox and i currently am not. I am willing to convert and am in the process of it with our current church. However, when it comes to our wedding ceremony we are torn. My family and I want the traditional American wedding and he and his family wants us to have an Orthodox wedding. Is there a way to have both? Have the traditional wedding on one day and the Orthodox wedding the next? Would that be recognized by the Orthodox church? As I said, I am in the process of converting already, I just would prefer to have the traditional wedding along with an Orthodox wedding. any suggestions are welcome!

Welcome to the forum lyndseynichole.  Christ is Risen!

Why not have the reception after the Orthodox Sacrament of Holy Matrimony be one big celebration (if both families can afford it)?  I've been to weddings where American and Greek cultures were celebrated equally.  I don't know how far along are you in your conversion process or if you intend on converting; however, I would concern myself with learning more about the Orthodox faith rather than worrying about whose emotions will be affected if a "traditional American wedding" is not performed....

In Christ,

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« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2011, 11:04:49 PM »

Just out of curiosity... what is a "traditional American wedding"?  I've been an American for far longer than I've been Orthodox, yet I suspect the definition of this phrase will vary from place to place.

For example, in one of the "traditions" I grew up in, shotguns just might possibly be involved.
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« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2011, 09:47:21 AM »

Just out of curiosity... what is a "traditional American wedding"? 

That thought occurred to me also. I once attended an wedding where the bride was the daughter of a Presbyterian minister, and the groom was Jewish, and incorporated her father and a rabbi. Traditional? Not so much...
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« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2011, 10:31:53 AM »

My fiancee is Greek Orthodox and i currently am not. I am willing to convert and am in the process of it with our current church. However, when it comes to our wedding ceremony we are torn. My family and I want the traditional American wedding and he and his family wants us to have an Orthodox wedding. Is there a way to have both? Have the traditional wedding on one day and the Orthodox wedding the next? Would that be recognized by the Orthodox church? As I said, I am in the process of converting already, I just would prefer to have the traditional wedding along with an Orthodox wedding. any suggestions are welcome!

What's your issue with the Orthodox wedding?  Is it to be all in Greek or something?  You can insist on an all-English ceremony. 

Also, what are you looking for as a "traditional" wedding?  Are you wanting just things like vows, exchange of rings, a kiss, etc.?  Or are you looking for the whole Protestant enchilada with a minister, church, organ, etc.?

The fact of the matter is, if both of you are to be Orthodox, there must be an Orthodox ceremony.  It is possible to have a separate wedding ceremony that is more of the traditional Western style, but you cannot live as a married couple (cohabitating, having sex) until the Orthodox ceremony is complete.  Consult your priest and ask him what can be done.
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« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2011, 11:50:39 AM »

The only thing I've noticed lacking from an Orthodox wedding ceremony that is in a "traditional" American ceremony is the ability to write your own vows/exchange vows and the use of non-church music (although some has been adopted for church purposes).

There is still a kiss at the end of the service, there is an exchange of rings, there is the bride walking up to the solea to meet her husband, there's still bridesmaids and groomsmen, there are flower girls and there can be a ring bearer, there can be a best man and woman (although sponsors do most of the actual in service things), there is also to boot the possibility of a live choir singing which made my wedding all that much better.

You don't get "Here comes the bride", "Fur Elise", or "Ave Maria" but there is an Orthodox version of Ode to Joy by Beethoven, and there are songs that I think are more beautiful than those previously mentioned within the Orthodox liturgical music (Rejoice O Virgin Theotokos, Rejoice O Isaiah, etc.)

-Nick
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« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2011, 08:04:40 PM »

The only thing I've noticed lacking from an Orthodox wedding ceremony that is in a "traditional" American ceremony is the ability to write your own vows/exchange vows and the use of non-church music (although some has been adopted for church purposes).

There is still a kiss at the end of the service, there is an exchange of rings, there is the bride walking up to the solea to meet her husband, there's still bridesmaids and groomsmen, there are flower girls and there can be a ring bearer, there can be a best man and woman (although sponsors do most of the actual in service things), there is also to boot the possibility of a live choir singing which made my wedding all that much better.

You don't get "Here comes the bride", "Fur Elise", or "Ave Maria" but there is an Orthodox version of Ode to Joy by Beethoven, and there are songs that I think are more beautiful than those previously mentioned within the Orthodox liturgical music (Rejoice O Virgin Theotokos, Rejoice O Isaiah, etc.)

-Nick

Flower girls/ring bearers may not be permitted, depending on the priest. I happen to know a local priest who threw an absolute hissy fit over flower girls. The convert family (on both sides) hadn't thought to ask if it was permitted, and the priest only found out about the flower girls when they arrived at the rehearsal. The flower girls (two sister) were the daughters of a non-Orthodox relative of the groom, and the kids parents were treated extremely rudely by the priest.

Some Greek parishes in the US have organs, which can be used for music before/after the wedding. I'm not in favor of such. I was at a wedding last summer in a Greek parish with an organ, and it really altered the experience of the wedding for me. All previous weddings I've attended have been in OCA parishes (I've SUNG them at myself) or Antiochian. No organ!

OP, if your fiance is attending a Greek parish, then the witnesses will have to be Orthodox - in good standing with the Church. I mention Greek parish because I've found those to be stricter (going off statements on their websites) than some OCA or Antiochian parishes, for example. Actually, the Greek tradition has a koumbaro, which is pretty much like a godparent for a marriage, rather than just one sponsor. I don't know if two are permitted.

Also, are you aware that Sunday after Liturgy is the accepted time for Orthodox weddings? Depending on the bishop, you might or might not be able to get permission for a Saturday wedding earlier in the day (no evening wedding).

Also, the Orthodox Church has restrictions on days when weddings can be held. Lots of days are out that would be fine in another Christian body.

Don't make any plans or ask anyone to be in your wedding without finding out what the priest expects.

Below is a link to the wedding section of a Greek parish in my area. It appears to be fairly standard.

http://www.stjohnthebaptistgoc.org/worship/sacraments/weddings
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« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2011, 08:13:49 PM »

I would just trust that the Orthodox service is more moving, and then have a big reception afterward. Compromise often isn't a bad thing, but in this case there isn't really a splitting the difference between an Orthodox and Protestant service.
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« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2011, 02:58:56 PM »

The only thing I've noticed lacking from an Orthodox wedding ceremony that is in a "traditional" American ceremony is the ability to write your own vows/exchange vows and the use of non-church music (although some has been adopted for church purposes).

There is still a kiss at the end of the service, there is an exchange of rings, there is the bride walking up to the solea to meet her husband, there's still bridesmaids and groomsmen, there are flower girls and there can be a ring bearer, there can be a best man and woman (although sponsors do most of the actual in service things), there is also to boot the possibility of a live choir singing which made my wedding all that much better.

You don't get "Here comes the bride", "Fur Elise", or "Ave Maria" but there is an Orthodox version of Ode to Joy by Beethoven, and there are songs that I think are more beautiful than those previously mentioned within the Orthodox liturgical music (Rejoice O Virgin Theotokos, Rejoice O Isaiah, etc.)

-Nick

Flower girls/ring bearers may not be permitted, depending on the priest. I happen to know a local priest who threw an absolute hissy fit over flower girls. The convert family (on both sides) hadn't thought to ask if it was permitted, and the priest only found out about the flower girls when they arrived at the rehearsal. The flower girls (two sister) were the daughters of a non-Orthodox relative of the groom, and the kids parents were treated extremely rudely by the priest.

Some Greek parishes in the US have organs, which can be used for music before/after the wedding. I'm not in favor of such. I was at a wedding last summer in a Greek parish with an organ, and it really altered the experience of the wedding for me. All previous weddings I've attended have been in OCA parishes (I've SUNG them at myself) or Antiochian. No organ!

OP, if your fiance is attending a Greek parish, then the witnesses will have to be Orthodox - in good standing with the Church. I mention Greek parish because I've found those to be stricter (going off statements on their websites) than some OCA or Antiochian parishes, for example. Actually, the Greek tradition has a koumbaro, which is pretty much like a godparent for a marriage, rather than just one sponsor. I don't know if two are permitted.

Also, are you aware that Sunday after Liturgy is the accepted time for Orthodox weddings? Depending on the bishop, you might or might not be able to get permission for a Saturday wedding earlier in the day (no evening wedding).

Also, the Orthodox Church has restrictions on days when weddings can be held. Lots of days are out that would be fine in another Christian body.

Don't make any plans or ask anyone to be in your wedding without finding out what the priest expects.

Below is a link to the wedding section of a Greek parish in my area. It appears to be fairly standard.

http://www.stjohnthebaptistgoc.org/worship/sacraments/weddings


That's an interesting take on things. I'd also be interested to know which priest was upset about this.
To the OP, I will say that it is up to the individual priest on what is/isn't allow, but most things are give and take with the concept of Economia. I believe in most Orthodox Churches except the liberal ones (ACROD) you will need to have at least 1 Orthodox sponsor. The time and date of the wedding is something that I would confirm with the priest and the bishop rather than saying that it has to be Sunday after Liturgy (mine was actually Sunday after liturgy and quite the draining affair). It varies from church to church and Bishop to Bishop. The idea behind the Sunday wedding is that couples who were married on Saturday tended to start their Honeymoon on Sunday and ended up skipping church...... The problem with Sunday weddings is that you aren't married until after Liturgy and so you don't get to receive communion as husband and wife until the next week (at which point the Honeymoon will usually have kicked in anyway). The point about available days is also something very important to keep in mind. I actually took a calendar and checked off the days that could not be used and there are a lot of them. The ones that come to mind are the entire period of Lent and Advent which eliminates almost 100 days of the year.

I will absolutely agree that you shouldn't make any plans until you find out exactly what is and isn't allowed.

Hope this helps a little. I will also give you a link to a list of what days are impermissible for marriage according to an OCA source in my area. http://holytrinitycathedral.net/article.php?id=41


-Nick
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TheodoraElizabeth3
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« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2011, 11:34:32 PM »

The restrictions on days weddings can be held is often in direct conflict with preferred wedding dates in America. June is still a preferred time to get married, but depending on the length the of Apostles Fast in a particular year, all of June might be unavailable. Same thing with the first two weeks of August. I've conducted an informal survey of Orthodox friends, including clergy, and I've come to the conclusion that the easiest time period (for less worry about avoiding fasting periods and such) is from the middle of August through mid-November because there are no long fasting periods in that time frame.

As for not doing weddings other than Sunday, my priest, in a suburban OCA parish in the Midwest Diocese, will ONLY do Sunday weddings. Period. Turns out this long-standing Orthodox custom of Sunday weddings works to the financial advantage of the bridal couple, as banquet halls will often give discounts for Sunday weddings (Saturday being the most popular day).

OP, and definitely check with your Orthodox priest before you finalize your dress. Some are stricter than others on modesty issues. At the least, you might have to cover your shoulders if wearing a strapless dress, but the bridal shops have all sorts of solutions, as this is not an uncommon issue, even for non-Orthodox brides.

As if you have questions....even though I'm single, I've actually been a sort of wedding planner/coordinator for four Orthodox weddings! And I've been the photographer for two weddings.

A gorgeous place for crowns is www.Orthodoxweddingcrowns.com - a couple from my parish used crowns from this website - hand-made by an Antiochian woman in Indiana.
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« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2011, 11:34:26 AM »

I just want to provide a brief explanation of why I emphasized talking to the priest first before making any wedding arrangements.

Modern America society has a pretty standard recipe for weddings. Orthodoxy has its own, often vwry different way of doing weddings. The two often do not dovetail. I've either personally witnessed or been told by participants of all sorts of things, from minor to major, happen due to folks, not uncommonly converts, having the standard American wedding script in their mind, and clashes happening with clergy, often from miscommunication on both sides.

Issues on the minor end included a non-Orthodox relative bringing a unity candle and throwing a bit of a fit when it wasn't used to major things of non-Orthodox parents throwing major hissy fits over a Sunday wedding (the bishop wouldn't approve Saturday weddings without an extremely good reason) or the above-mentioned priest throwing a hissy fit over
flower girls.

So, for someone unsure of how Orthodox weddings are done and what they include, ask, ask, ask. There is no such thing as a stupid question and knowing exactly what is allowed now will likely save mich grief closer to the wedding, or on the wedding day itself.
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