I am probably the only person on this forum that has gone through your situation exactly. I am a Greek Orthodox Christian, from a long line of Greek Orthodox priests no less, that married a Coptic Orthodox woman. I can relate to the stress you explained about choosing which church to get married in and the even bigger problem of which church to raise the children in.
I studied the Coptic Orthodox faith for many years and genuinely believe it to be a true Orthodox faith as expressed by the Alexandrian Patriarchate. The Copts are NOT monophysite nor are they guilty of accepting heresies attributed to them by the Eastern Orthodox side. Nor are the Eastern Orthodox guilty of heresies attributed to them by the Oriental Orthodox in the fifth centuries. Keep in mind that I am an Eastern Orthodox Christian saying this.
Now as to the issue of the wedding itself. It was a big problem for my wife and I to choose which church to get married in since my wife, like your future spouse and her parents, are very attached to the Coptic Orthodox Church. I wanted to have a Greek Orthodox wedding especially because of my Greek Orthodox heritage. I thought we could compromise by holding the ceremony in a Greek Orthodox Cathedral but have the Coptic priests officiate the ceremony. Greek priests could attend but not participate in the ceremony. Although this was acceptable to my wife I felt as though I was insulting both sides by doing so.
I spoke with the Greek Orthodox bishop (Bp. Theodosius) of the Jerusalem Patriarchate responsible for family affairs and he informed me that the Greek Orthodox Church DOES recognize a Coptic wedding as being legitimate. However he did mention that this may preclude me from being considered for the Greek Orthodox priesthood should decide to seek it.
What helped me in my decision though was the official Pastoral Agreement between the Coptic Orthodox and Greek Orthodox Patriarchates of Alexandria found here:http://www.britishorthodox.org/“For those mentioned reasons, the Holy Synods of both Patriarchates have agreed to accept the sacrament of marriage which is conducted in either Church with the condition that it is conducted for two partners not belonging to the same Patriarchate of the other Church from their origin. Both the Bride and the Groom should carry a valid certificate from his/her own Patriarchate that he/she has a permit of marriage and indicating the details of his/her marriage status up to date.
Each of the two Patriarchates shall also accept to perform all of its other sacraments to that new family of Mixed Christian Marriage.
It is agreed that the Patriarchate which shall perform the marriage shall be responsible for any marriage problems that may happen concerning this certain marriage, taking into consideration the unified marriage laws signed by the heads of Churches in Egypt in the year 1999.”
Since I realized I wasn’t “giving up” Orthodoxy for another faith and since the head of both the Greek and the Coptic churches were in agreement about this issue, regardless of the personal feelings of some priests, I decided to get married in the Coptic Orthodox Church. I choose this option because I was a lot more familiar with Coptic Orthodoxy than she was of Greek Orthodoxy.
Although this joint agreement between the Greek Orthodox and Coptic Orthodox is relatively new, not all clergy of both churches are comfortable with it yet. The priests would prefer a full “conversion” of the other spouse before the ceremony. I was asked by the Coptic priest if I minded being baptized. I told him that I was already baptized as an Orthodox Christian by a (Greek) Orthodox priest (who happened to be my grandfather) in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He then said "I will only anoint you with Myron oil."
When my wife and I had children, the issue of which church to baptize the kids in did come up. Since I did not want the kids torn between two Churches, even though they are both Orthodox, I did baptize them in the Church that we both attend; that is the Coptic Orthodox Church. I still take the family every once in a while to Greek Orthodox Church to attend some services during the year. My wife doesn’t mind because she understands that this is my heritage, but for the sake of unity, for the sake of getting personal pastoral care and to minimize confusion on the kids part we attend the Coptic Orthodox Church. Plus you must remember that the Copts are a very tightly knit community because it is the glue that holds the immigrant community together. The Coptic Church has not been in the US as long as the Greek Church, so they haven’t gone through the growing pains that other churches have gone through.
As a side note, you will get many on this forum telling you that you are going to become excommunicated or become a heretic if you attend the Coptic Church. Please don’t get your sources on faith issues from the internet or forum posts. I spoke with representatives of both churches to make my mind up.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Again, read the joined declaration between the Greek and Coptic Churches on this issue, it makes it clear. You can go to either church but you can’t go church hoping after that.
By the way, the marriage between Greek Orthodox and Coptic Orthodox was very common in Egypt up until the 1960’s when Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser kicked most of the foreigner out of Egypt. The Greek Orthodox Church has had a large patriarchate in Alexandria for centuries. So these two churches have dealt with this issue extensively in the past.
Good luck to you in your decision and remember that youre still Orthodox no mater which of these two churches you attend. I consider my self a Greek Orthodox Christian praying with the Copts. Yes there still needs to be full sacramental communion between the two churches but both have declared in their joint statement of faith that each church has preserved the Orthodox faith using it own expressions, traditions and heritage. This last statement still needs decades to sink into the minds of the hardliners of both sides.
Hope my experience helps you in some way.