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Greek Orthodox Wedding Program Templates

Here you will find wedding program examples and wedding ceremony program wording for an Orthodox Wedding. Wedding ceremonies in the Orthodox Church are an ancient and meaningful service that has been celebrated in its present form for centuries. The service is abundant with symbolism that reflect marriage: Love, Mutual Respect, Equality and Sacrifice.


Orthodox Wedding Program Template 1

The Wedding Ceremony
To our family and friends who are not familiar with the marriage sacraments of the Greek Orthodox Church, we have provided a detailed account of what you will experience during the ceremony.

The Rings
The rings are blessed by the priest who takes them in his hand and makes the sign of the cross over the couple’s heads saying: “The servant of God, Jared, is betrothed to the servant of God, Erena, in the name of The Father, The Son, and of The Holy Spirit.”
The Koumbaro then exchanges the rings three times, taking the bride’s ring and placing it on the groom’s finger and vice-versa. The rings are the symbol of betrothal from the most ancient times. The exchange signifies that, in married life, the weakness of the one partner will be compensated by the strengths of the other, the imperfections of one by the perfections of the other. Individually, the newly betrothed are incomplete; together they are made perfect. Thus, the exchange of rings signifies that the spouses in marriage will constantly complement each other and be enriched by the union.

The Candles
The wedding service begins immediately following the betrothal service. The bride and groom are handed candles which they hold throughout the service. The candles represent the lamps of the five maidens of the Bible, which, because they contained enough oil, enabled the maidens to light the way for the Bridegroom Christ, when He came in the darkness of night. The candles symbolize the spiritual willingness of the couple to receive Christ, who will bless them through this Sacrament.

The Joining of the Hands
As the final prayer concludes, the priest invokes God to “join these servants, unite them in one mind and flesh.” He then places the right hand of the groom on the right hand of the bride. At this sacred moment, the couple is joined as husband and wife in the Greek Orthodox Church. The hands remain joined throughout the service to symbolize the “oneness” of their love.

The Crowning
Climaxing the marriage service is the Office of the Crowning. The crowns (Stefana) signify the glory and honor of God given to the couple during the Sacrament. The bride and groom are crowned as the queen and king of their kingdom, the home, which they will rule with wisdom, justice and integrity. The crowns are joined together with a ribbon symbolizing that the two are now one.
The priest places the crowns upon their heads; blessing each partner, he says, “The servants of God Jared and Erena are crowned in the name of the Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit, Amen.” The Koumbaro exchanges the crowns three times over the heads of the groom and the bride as witness to the sealing of the union.
Some interpret the stefana as being symbols of the crowns of martyrdom, since every true marriage involves immeasurable self-sacrifice.

The Common Cup
In the second Gospel of St. John, we read that Jesus attended and blessed the marriage at Cana of Galilee. There He changed water into wine and gave it to the newlyweds. The couple drinks blessed wine from a common cup, remembering the first miracle Jesus performed.
The common cup designates a mutual sharing of life in its fullest, a common support for every joy and sorrow experienced in life’s walk. The drinking of wine serves to impress upon the couple that, from this moment on, they will share everything in life, joys as well as sorrows, and they are to “bear one another’s burdens.”

The Ceremonial Walk
The priest leads the couple around the table on which are placed the Gospel and the Cross, Christ’s symbols of hope and redemption. These first steps as partners are to emphasize the focus of their “life’s walk” together.
During the ceremonial walk around the table, a hymn is sung to the Holy Martyrs, reminding the newly married couple of the sacrificial love they are to have for each other in marriage, a love that seeks not its own, but is willing to sacrifice all for the one loved.

The Blessing
The bride and groom return to their places, and the priest lifts the crowns from their heads. The marriage ceremony ends with words of blessing to the newlyweds.

Orthodox Wedding Program Template 2

Background
The Orthodox sacrament of marriage is unique in many ways, but primarily in that the ceremony has remained almost entirely unchanged since its origination centuries ago. Another notable aspect of the Orthodox marriage is that the bride and groom do not exchange vows; instead it is their presence before Christ through the priest and the congregation that signifies their wish to be joined and to accept the lord into their new home. Finally, in the Orthodox tradition, the wedding ceremony is actually two services in one. The first, which is the briefer of the two, is the Service of Betrothal, during which the rings are exchanged. The second, the Service of Crowning, is longer and includes many prayers offered for the couple, the crowning of the bride and groom in marriage, sharing of the common cup and the celebrational procession around the table.

The Service of Betrothal
During this first service, the priest offers petitions of prayer on behalf of the bride and groom. He then asks God’s blessings upon the rings and proceeds to bless the bride and groom with the rings. Performed three times in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, the priest will start first from the groom to the bride, and then from the bride to the groom. The weaving motion between bride and groom represents their lives being entwined into one. The priest then places the wedding rings on the ring fingers of the right hands of both the bride and groom (the right hand holds special connotations in the Orthodox faith, which is why it is used during the wedding ceremony). Then the sponsor (the koumbaro or koumbara) exchanges the rings on the bride and groom three times further emphasizing the union of their lives. The service closes with a final prayer, which seals the placement of rings and emphasizes that the marriage was enacted by God Himself.

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. During this prayer the priest joins the right hands of the bride and groom to symbolize the union of the couple through the lord. 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 of the bride and groom is completed with the Crowning. The priest takes the crowns from the altar table, blesses the bride and groom, and then places the crowns upon their heads, chanting, “O Lord our God, crown them with glory and honor.” The crowns have several meanings: the first that God bestows His blessing upon His children in the form of crowns and the second, that the bride and groom mark the beginning of a new kingdom, reigning supreme under the Divine Authority of God, Who reigns over all. The sponsor exchanges the crowns over the heads of the bride and groom to seal the union. The service continues with the Epistle (Ephesians 5:20-33) and Gospel (John 2:1-11) readings. The Epistle details the responsibilities of each partner in the marriage and the Gospel recounts Christ’s first miracle at the wedding in Cana.

The Common Cup
Following the readings and brief prayers, the common cup, containing a small portion of wine, is presented to the bride and groom. The priest blesses the cup and offers it to the newly joined husband and wife, representing their equal share in the cup of life.

The Removal of the Crowns and the Benediction
Upon completion of the procession, 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.” After which, the priest turns to the bride and 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.” Finally, the priest reads a prayer of benediction and the newly married couple may depart from the Church.

Orthodox Wedding Program Template 3

The Sacrament of Marriage
Marriage is one of the seven sacraments of the Greek Orthodox Church. It is the Sacrament during which the bride and the groom give a solemn promise before God and the Church to love each other and to be true to each other. The marriage service, as performed in the Orthodox Church, is a very beautiful service full of symbolisms. The service actually consists of two parts, the Service of the Betrothal and the Service of the Crowning.

The Service of the Betrothal
The Betrothal consists of several beautiful prayers during which the priest asks God to grant the betrothed perfect and peaceful love, salvation and to bless them with fair children.

Exchange of Rings
During the Betrothal, the rings are blessed over the heads of the bride and groom three times, after which they are placed on the fourth figure of the right hand. The exchange of the rings by the Koumbaros, the official sponsor of the marriage, symbolizes the unbreakable bond of Christian Marriage. Marriage is not for today or tomorrow, but forever. The Betrothal ends with a prayer that the Lord might make strong their Betrothal in faith, truth, and love and make them of one mind, and that He would grant them His heavenly blessings.

The Service of the Crowning
Lighted Candles
The bride and groom are given white lighted candles to hold. The lighted candles symbolize the purity of their lives, which should shine with the light of virtue.

The Joining of Hands
During the Service of the Crowning, three long prayers are read, asking God to grant the bride and groom a long and peaceful life, mutual love and help, happiness and health. Then the right hands of the couple are joined by the priest who calls upon God to join them into one mind and one flesh.

The Crowning
The priest takes up the crowns and makes the sign of the cross three times each over the heads of the bride and groom, and then places the crowns on their heads. The crows are the symbol that the newly married couple receives the grace of the Holy Spirit to be the founders of a new generation and are crowned with virtue and holiness to serve all their lives to the glory of the Almighty God.

Bible Reading
During The Crowning, Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians (5: 20-33) concerning the mystery and holiness of the Christian Marriage and the duties and responsibilities of the husband and wife to each other is read by the Priest; and Saint John’s Gospel on Christ’s miracle at the Marriage of Cana (2: 1-12) is read by the priest to show that our Lord Jesus Christ blessed the sacred institution of Marriage.

The Common Cup
The drinking from the “Common Cup” is the next point in the service. The priest gives to the husband and wife to drink from a cup of wine three times each. This is not Holy Communion, but it symbolizes that they now share with each other every joy and sorrow.

The Circling of the Tables
The priest takes the bride and groom by the hand and leads them around the small table three times while three beautiful and joyous hymns are chanted. The circle symbolizes eternity. By circling around the table, the couple signifies their oath to preserve their marriage bond forever, until death shall break it. The triple circling is in honor of the Holy Trinity.

Benediction
Finally, the Priest lifts the crowns from their heads with special words of blessing to the newlyweds, thus ending the Marriage Ceremony.

Orthodox Wedding Program Template 4

Holy Matrimony is a Sacrament of Greek Orthodox Church in which a man and woman solemnly vow before God, the priest and the congregation to be true to each other for life. Their conjugal union is blessed by God through the church. God’s grace is imparted to them to live together in His Love, mutually fulfilling and perfecting each other. The beauty and richness of this service is steeped in tradition and symbolism and has remained unchanged through the centuries. The rituals you will observe have special meaning and significance. Each is performed three times to honor the mystical presence of the Holy Trinity.

The Rings
The rings are blessed by the priest who takes them in his hand, and making the sign of the cross over the couple’s heads, saying: “The servant of God, Spilios is betrothed to the hand-maid of God, Eleni, in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
The Koubara then exchanges the rings three times, taking Eleni’s ring and placing it on Spilios’ finger and vice-versa. The rings are placed on the right hand; the right hand being the hand of blessing. The rings are the symbol of betrothal from the most ancient times. The exchange signifies that in married life the weaknesses of the one partner will be compensated for by the strength of the other, the imperfections of one by the perfections of the other. By themselves, the newly betrothed are incomplete; together they are made perfect. Thus the exchange of rings gives expression to the fact that the spouses in marriage will constantly be complementing each other and each will be enriched by the union.

The Candles
Eleni and Spilios are handed candles which they hold throughout the service. The candles represent the lamps of the five wise maidens of the Bible, which because they contained enough oil, enabled the maidens to light the way for the Bridegroom Christ, when He came in the darkness of night. The candles symbolize the spiritual willingness of the couple to receive Christ, who will bless them through this Sacrament.

The Joining of the Hands
As the final prayer concludes, the priest invokes God to “Join these servants, unite them in one mind and flesh.” He then places the right hand of Spilios on the right hand of Eleni. At this sacred moment, the couple is joined as husband and wife in the Greek Orthodox Church. The hands remain joined throughout the service to symbolize the “oneness” of their love.

The Crowning - The Stefana
The Crowns (Stefana) signify the glory and honor of God given to the couple during the Sacrament. Eleni and Spilios are crowned as the Queen and King of their Kingdom, the home, which they will rule with wisdom, justice and integrity. The crowns are joined together with a ribbon symbolizing that the two are now one. The priest places the crows upon their heads; blessing each partner he says, “The servants of God Spilios and Eleni are crowned in the name of the Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.” The Koubara exchanges the crowns three times over the heads of Spilios and Eleni as witness to the sealing of the union. Some interpret the Stefana as being symbols of the crowns of martyrdom, since every true marriage involves immeasurable self-sacrifice.

The Scripture Readings
There are two readings from the New Testament. An excerpt from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians (5:20-33) is read, expressing the strength and sacrifices required of a husband and wife, advising them to have unconditional love and service to one another and a marriage “holy and without blemish.” The second reading from the Gospel of St. John (2:1–11) relates the story of Christ at the wedding in Cana of Galilee, when Christ blessed the institution of marriage and performed the first of His miracles, transforming water into wine.

The Common Cup
Eleni and Spilios sip three times the blessed wine from a common cup, remembering the first miracle Christ performed. The common cup designates a mutual sharing of life in its fullest, a common support for every joy and sorrow experienced in Life’s walk. The drinking of wine serves to impress upon the couple that, from this moment on they will share everything in life, joys as well as sorrows, and they are to “bear one another’s burdens.”

The Ceremonial Walk – The Dance of Isaiah
The priest then takes the arm of Spilios and leads him and Eleni around the table as an expression of joy. The walk around the table on which are placed the Gospel and the Cross, Christ’s symbols of hope and redemption, is seen as a religious dance. These first steps as husband and wife are to emphasize the focus of their “Life’s walk” together. They are accompanied by their Koubara who will support them throughout their married life.
In this respect it is an expression of gratitude to God for His blessings, and joyfulness at the receiving of those blessings. As Eleni and Spilios 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 an exaltation to the Holy Trinity.

The Blessing
Eleni and Spilios return to their places and in a final prayer, the priest blesses and removes the crowns, beseeching to God to grant the newlyweds a long, happy and fruitful life. He then lifts the Holy Gospel and brings it down between the bride and groom, separating the couple’s joined hands, thus symbolizing that only the word of God should come between them.

The Tradition of Koufeta
The sugar-coated almonds, or “koufeta,” which are placed on the tray with the crowns and given to the guests at the reception, are symbolic of an ancient tradition. The hard bitterness of the almond represents the endurance of marriage and the sweetness of the sugar symbolizes the sweetness of future life. The guests are given an odd number of almonds which is indivisible, just as the newlyweds will remain undivided.

Orthodox Wedding Program Template 5

The Orthodox Wedding Ceremony
The wedding ceremony of the Greek Orthodox Church is an ancient and meaningful service that has been celebrated in its present form for centuries. The service is abundant with symbols that reflect marriage, including love, respect, equality, and sacrifice.
The ceremony consists of two services, the Service of Betrothal and the Ceremony of the Sacrament of Marriage.

The Service of Betrothal
Petitions are chanted for the spiritual welfare of the couple. The service begins with the lighting of the white candles. The highlight during this service is the blessing and exchanging of the rings. The rings are placed on Sonia and Panayiotis’ right hands following the Biblical knowledge that it is with the right hand that Christ blesses, it is with the right hand that miracles are performed, and it is to the right hand that those, granted with eternal life, shall ascend.
The Koumbara (religious sponsor) then exchanges the rings three times. This exchange signifies that in married life, the weakness of one partner will be compensated by the strength of the other, the imperfections of one, by the perfection of the other. By themselves, the newly betrothed are incomplete, but together they are made perfect.

The Ceremony of the Sacrament of Marriage
The ceremony consists of petitions, prayers, the Crowning, readings from the New Testament, the offering of the common cup, the circling of the ceremonial table, and the benediction. At the conclusion of the prayers, the priest joins the hands of Sonia and Panayiotis. The hands are kept joined until the end of the service to symbolize the couple’s union.

The Crowning
This is the focal point of the marriage ceremony. The wedding crowns, known as stefana, are signs of the glory and honor with which God crowns the couple during the sacrament. The crowns are joined by a ribbon, which symbolizes the unity of the couple. The priest blesses Sonia and Panayiotis in the name of the Holy Trinity, then places the crowns on their heads. The Koumbara then exchanges the stefana over their heads three times as a witness to the union.

The Common Cup
The rite of Crowning is followed by the reading of the Gospel and prayers. The Common Cup, containing a small portion of wine, is offered to Sonia and Panayiotis and denotes the mutual sharing of the joys and sorrows of life.

The Procession of Joy
The priest, holding the Gospel, leads Sonia and Panayiotis around the table three times, with the Koumbara following behind and holding the ribbon that links the two crowns. Sonia and Panayiotis are taking their first steps as a married couple with the priest as their guide.

The Removal of the Stefana and the Benediction
At the conclusion of the Ceremonial Walk, the priest removes the stefana from Sonia and Panayiotis’ heads and beseeches God to grant the newlyweds a long, happy, and fruitful life together. The priest then lifts up the Gospel and separates their joined hands reminding them that only God can separate the couple from one another.

The Koufeta
The koufeta are sugar-coated almonds that are placed on the tray with the stefana and will later be offered to the guests. The koufeta symbolize the journey of marriage. The egg shape represents fertility and the new life that begins with marriage. The white color represents purity. The sweetness of the almonds symbolizes the sweetness of their future life together. Lastly, the hardness represents the strength of marriage. The odd number of almonds is indivisible, just as Sonia and Panayiotis shall remain undivided.

Orthodox Wedding Program Template 6

Introduction
The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, the most ancient of Christian wedding rites, is steeped in rite and symbolism. In the Orthodox Church, marriage is a mystery through which Bride and Groom become united together “in oneness of mind, in truth, and in love.” The ceremony in its present form dates back to the fifth century and consists of two distinct services, The Betrothal and the Crowning.

The Service of the Betrothal
The Betrothal Service begins with a series of petitions for Peace on Earth, and for the spiritual well-being of Elizabeth and Henry, asking that they be granted a perfect and peaceful love, and that their lives be blessed with fair children. The ring bearer brings forth the rings, symbol of eternity. The priest first petitions God for His Blessings of the rings, then thrice blesses the couple with the rings, saying, “The Servant of God, Henry, is betrothed to the Maiden of God, Elizabeth, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Maiden of God, Elizabeth, is betrothed to the Servant of God, Henry, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” The alternating text between Elizabeth and Henry in the three blessings symbolically entwines their lives through Love.

The Exchange of the Rings
While the final prayer is being read, the Koumbaro steps forward, takes the rings, and exchanges the rings again three times between Henry and Liz, as witness to the expression of two lives entwined as one. The exchange signifies that in married life, the weakness of one partner will be compensated by the strength of the other; the Imperfection of one partner will be compensated by the Perfection of the Other; and alone, the newly betrothed are neither complete nor perfect - but through the oneness of two people, they are made whole, and perfect by the Grace of the Holy Trinity. The rings are then placed on Elizabeth and Henry’s fingers and the Betrothal ends with the priest’s petition that God give their lives purpose - strengthened by truth, faith, love, and oneness of mind.

The Sacrament of Marriage
The service of the Crowning is the wedding proper. It is comprised of five parts: The Prayers, The Crowning, Readings from the Scriptures; The Common Cup; and the Dance of Isaiah. It begins with the lighting of candles and joining of hands.

Lighting of Candles
The Bride and Groom are given lit candles to hold throughout the ceremony. The light of the candles symbolizes their willingness and purity, which are illuminated by the light of Virtue.

Joining of Hands
Three long prayers ask God to bless Elizabeth and Henry with a long and peaceful life, to unite them in one mind and one flesh, and to protect their mutual love with happiness and health. The priest joins the right hands of Henry and Liz. For the rest of the service, their hands remain joined to symbolize their oneness and unity as a couple.

The Crowning
The Crowning is the central act of the Holy Sacrament. The Crowning is a visible expression of receiving the Grace of the Holy Spirit, whereby the Bride and Groom are united by the ribbon as One, to be the founders of a new generation blessed with Virtue and Truth. With the crowns, or “stefana,” Elizabeth and Henry are blessed with Honor, Devotion, Wisdom, and the Transcendent Beauty of God. During this blessing, the couple are crowned with, and accept, the responsibility to serve as the King and Queen of their own Dominion, which they alone will rule, with the Wisdom, Justice and Integrity that are also bestowed upon them during these prayers.
The matching and interchangeable pair of crowns, two plaits of lemon blossoms, represents equality, expressed by the priest when he thrice says, “The servant of God Henry, takes as his Crown the servant of God Elizabeth, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Making the Cross above the Bride’s forehead, the priest repeats, “The Servant of God Elizabeth takes as her Crown the Servant of God Henry, in the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit.” (Three times.) The Koumbaro, Stefanos, then step forward to exchange the crowns three times over the Bride and Groom to complete the entwining of two individuals as One.

Readings from the Scriptures
The crowns of flowers now uniting them in marriage, Elizabeth and Henry listen to Saint Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians about the mystery and holiness of Christian marriage and the duties and responsibilities of husband and wife to each other. The Gospel of Saint John (2:1-12) is then read wherein John describes the marriage at Cana of Galilee, the occasion where Christ performed His first miracle.

The Common Cup
Ever since this first miracle, the changing of water into wine at Cana, Christ has continued to change the ‘water’ of ordinary relationships into the ‘wine’ of Sacramental marriage. As a token of this miracle, the priest offers a common cup of wine, which Henry and Elizabeth will sip three times. This is not Holy Communion; rather it represents the common “Cup of Life”. The drinking of wine from a common cup impresses upon the couple that from that moment forward, they will share everything in life: joys as well as sorrows, and that they are to “bear one another’s burdens.” They learn that in sharing, they can experience a life of harmony. Their joys will be doubled and their sorrows halved, because they will be shared.

The Dance of Isaiah
The priest then leads the couple, with their attendants of honor, in a circular procession around the marriage table, on which are placed the Gospel and the Cross: the Word and the Symbol of God. Through this symbolically joyful procession, the couple accepts the eternity of marriage, and accepts that the way of living as one is to move in an orbit around the very ‘center’ of life, which is their faith together. The dance of Isaiah is the first of three hymns. Isaiah’s hymn expresses the soaring joy that Isaiah felt when he foresaw the birth of Christ. It says, “Rejoice Isaiah, the Virgin has conceived and has brought forth a son, the Emmanuel, both God and Man. Dayspring is His name. We magnify him! Blessed be the Virgin!...” The second and third hymns, more solemn, are sung for the couple to remind them of the virtue of the Saints and of the great sacrifices of the Martyrs. Henry and Liz are thus reminded that love involves sacrifice, and they learn that the love they have for each other in marriage is a love that seeks not its own, but is willing to make sacrifices for the other.

The Final Blessing
At the conclusion of the procession, the priest removes the crowns and beseeches God to grant Henry and Elizabeth a long, happy and productive life together. He asks God to “receive their crowns into His Kingdom, preserving them and this union as spotless, blameless, and without reproach, and making their lives ever purposeful.” Holding the Holy Gospel, the priest now separates Elizabeth and Henry’s joined hands, reminding them that only God, who forgives, unites and strengthens, can break the bond of perfect love and knowledge that they have mystically acquired. After this final message, the priests wish Henry and Liz many years of blessings and grace as they delight in their love for one another, a love that can always refresh from its source and its fulfillment in God, Who Is the Essence of Love Itself.

The Symbolism of the Koufeta
The white of the sugar-coated almond symbolizes purity. Its egg shape represents fertility and the blessing that the couple enjoy a productive life together. The hardness of the candy represents the difficulties in life, and the sweetness of the sugar symbolizes the sweetness of Henry and Liz, now and in the future. There are always an odd number of almonds offered, the odd-number to represent that which cannot be divided, just as the newlyweds shall remain undivided.

Orthodox Wedding Program Template 7

The wedding ceremony of the Greek Orthodox Church is an ancient and meaningful service that has been celebrated in its present form for centuries. The service is abundant with symbols that reflect marriage: love, mutual respect, equality and sacrifice.
The ceremony consists of two parts which are distinct and separate from each other: The service of the Betrothal and the Ceremony of the Sacrament of Marriage. Everything in the ceremony has a special meaning and significance, especially the repetition of each act three times to symbolize and to invoke the mystical presence of the Holy Trinity. The Wedding begins as the white candles are handed to Bride and Groom. These candles symbolize their spiritual willingness to receive Christ.

The Service of Betrothal
Petitions are chanted for the spiritual welfare of the couple. The highlight during this service is the exchanging of the rings. The priest then blesses the rings. He holds them in his right hand, and making the sign of the cross over their heads, he betroths the servants of God, Bride to Groom. The rings are then placed on their right hands, for it is the right hand of God that blesses, it was the right hand of God to which Christ ascended, and it is also to the right that those who will inherit the eternal life will ascend. The koumbaro (religious sponsor) then exchanges the rings three times. The exchange signifies that in married life, the weakness of one partner will be compensated by the strength of the other, the imperfections of one, by the perfection of the other. By themselves, the newly betrothed are incomplete, but together they are made perfect. The rite of the betrothal ends with the priest praying for betrothal of mutual promise, officially given before the church, may prove in true faith, concord and love.

The Ceremony of the Sacrament of Marriage
The ceremony consists of petitions, prayers, the crowning, readings from the New Testament, the offering of the common cup, the circling of the ceremonial table and the benediction. At the conclusion of the prayers, the priest joins the hands of Bride and Groom. The hands are kept joined until the end of the service to symbolize the union and the oneness of the couple.

The Crowning
This is the focal point of the marriage ceremony. The crowns are signs of the glory and honor with which God crowns them during the sacrament. The wedding crowns (stefana) are joined by a ribbon which again symbolizes the unity of the couple and the presence of Christ who blesses and joins the couple and establishes them as the King and Queen of their home, which they will rule with wisdom, justice and integrity. The priest takes the two crowns and blesses Bride and Groom, in the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Spirit and then places the crowns on them. The Koumbaro then steps behind Bride and Groom and interchanges the crowns three times as a witness to the sealing of the union.
Some interpret the crowns used in the Orthodox wedding ceremony to refer to the crowns of Martyrdom since every true marriage involves immeasurable self sacrifice on both sides.

The Common Cup
The rite of crowning is followed by the reading of the Epistle and the Gospel. The Gospel reading describes the marriage at Cana of Galilee which was attended and blessed by Christ and for which He reserved His first miracle. There he converted the water into wine and gave it to the newlyweds. In remembrance of this blessing, wine is then given to the couple. This is the “common cup” of life denoting the mutual sharing of joy and sorrow, the token of a life of harmony. The drinking of wine from the common cup serves to impress upon the couple that from that moment on they will share everything in life, joys, as well as sorrows, and that they are to “bear one another’s burdens.” Their joys will be doubled and their sorrows halved because they will be shared.

The Ceremonial Walk
The priest then leads Bride and Groom in a circle around the table on which are placed the Gospel and the Cross, the one containing the word of God, the other being the symbol of our redemption by Jesus. Bride and Groom are taking their first steps as a married couple, and the church, in the person of the priest, leads them in the way they must walk. The way is symbolized by the circle at the center of which are the Gospel and the cross of our Lord. This expresses the fact that the way of Christian living is a perfect orbit around the center of life, who is Jesus Christ our Lord.
During this ceremonial walk around the table a hymn is sung to the Holy Martyrs reminding the newly married couple of the sacrificial love they are to have for each other in marriage - a love that seeks not its own but is willing to sacrifice its all for the one loved.

The Removal of the Crowns
At the conclusion of the Ceremonial Walk, the priest removes the crowns from Bride and Groom and beseeches God to grant to the newlyweds a long, happy and fruitful life together. He then lifts up the Gospel and separates their joined hands reminding them that only God can separate the couple from one another.

The Wedding Favors
The sugar coated almonds (koufeta), which were placed on the tray with the crowns and which will later be offered to the guests are also symbolic. In the early days of the Church, honey dipped almonds were offered to the newlyweds by the priest. The white symbolizes purity. The egg shape represents fertility and the new life which begins with marriage. The hardness of the almond represents the endurance of marriage and the sweetness of the sugar symbolizes the sweetness of future life. The odd number of almond is indivisible, just as Bride and Groom shall remain undivided.

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Email: custserv@documentsanddesigns.com

Telephone: (518) 668-4334

Address: 32 Sewell Street
Lake George, New York 12845

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