How is a wedding ceremony performed?
How is a wedding ceremony performed?
The sacrament of marriage consists of two parts: the engagement and the wedding. In ancient times, the engagement was completed separately. Later, during the Divine Liturgy, the wedding would then take place. Nowadays, the wedding immediately follows the engagement and takes place in the vestibule of the church (a large entrance or reception room or area within the church).
At the ceremony, the groom stands on the right and the bride on the left. Once the priest blesses them three times, he gives them each lit candles, which represent radiant joy, chastity, and their burning love for one another.
Having taken the rings, which have been consecrated at the altar on a throne beforehand, the priest blesses the groom with one of them and places it on the finger of his right hand with the words: “servant of God (groom’s name) is betrothed to the servant of God (bride’s name), in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”. Having crossed the other ring over the bride three times, it is placed on her finger whilst saying: “betrothed servant of God (bride’s name), servant of God (groom’s name), in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”. To complete the marriage, they exchange the rings three times as a sign of inseparable, eternal union between them.
The bride and groom, whilst holding the lit candles, come to the center of the church and stand in front of the analogion where the Holy Gospels and Holy Cross are placed. They both stand on the white cloth which symbolizes inseparable married life and purity of their feelings towards one another.
The priest asks the bridal pair if they have a free pious desire and strong intention to become husband and wife, and if they made similar promises to someone else. Only after they state the self-imposed desire to get married the wedding ceremony can begin.
At the beginning of the ceremony three prayers are read on marriage peace, long life, innocence, mutual love, long years together, and having many children. A special prayer about the parents is also sent to God.
Having taken the crowns, the priest, in turn, sanctifies the bride and the groom and allows them to kiss these crowns. Then the crowns are placed on the heads of the bride and groom of the marriage with the words: “the servant of God (groom’s name) is marrying the servant of God (bride’s name) in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” and “the servant of God (bride’s name) is marrying the servant of God (groom’s name) in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit”. The best men can hold their crowns; however, it is not essential. Placement of the crowns symbolize purity and innocence of the bride and groom and is a sign of parenting power over their future offspring.
The priest blesses those who are getting married three times by saying: “our Father Jesus Christ, I am performing this marriage ceremony with glory and pride”.
Then, from the Epistle of the Apostle Paul, we hear the passage about the importance of the Christian marriage and the responsibilities of the husband and wife.
In the Gospel reading, it says how Jesus Christ visited a wedding ceremony in Cana of Galilee and performed a miracle by turning water into wine, thereby blessing that event.
Everyone attending the event now sings in unison, The Lord’s Prayer, as Our Savior taught His apostles, “Our Father, . . .”
As a sign of the fact that the husband and wife need to share joy, sadness, sorrow, endless happiness, and tough challenges, the newly married, in turn, drink from the shared cup that the priest gives them.
The priest joins the right hands of the couple together. This is a sign of unity of the couple with God and the couple is covered with the end of the orarion that symbolizes that the wife is given to a husband from the Church. The priest holds a cross in his hands and says three times: “to the glory of the blessed Trinity”. Then he takes the people entering the marriage around the altar stand on which the Holy Gospel is placed.
Whilst they are doing so, three troparions are sung. By singing the first one and by praising the Nativity of Christ, the Church is reminded about the Holy Blessing of Birth.
The second troparion in which we ask Saint Martyrs for a prayer is a reminder that marriage is a school of self-sacrifice. It obligates people to have such high responsibilities for themselves and their children that their crowns are compared to Saint Martyr’s crowns.
The third troparion sends glory to the couple for entering marriage: “glory to Thee, our God, apostles are praising, martyrs are joyful, their sermon to the Holy Trinity”.
Next, the priest removes the crowns from the newly married couple and approaches each of them with a special greeting. In ancient times, the people who entered marriage were required to wear crowns made of green sticks for a period of seven days. Now, a prayer for the giving of the crown is read before the end of the wedding ceremony.
After that, according to the tradition, the priest takes the newly married couple to the Holy doors where they kiss the Icon of the Savior and Icon of the Mother of God, and then they come up to kiss the Cross. The Priest gives the Icon of the Savior to the husband and the Icon of the Most Holy Mother of God to the wife. The newly married couple will take home these icons. At the end, the song of longevity is sung.