The Greek Orthodox Ceremony 

 

The Greek Orthodox ceremony is composed of two distinct but complementary parts: The Service of Betrothal and the Ceremony of the Sacrament of Marriage.

For a couple to engage in this ceremony at least one must already be Greek Orthodox and the other prepared to be baptised.

To begin the service, the Priest will escort the couple to a table with two candlesticks, the Holy Cross, the Holy Gospel, a tray containing two rings, two crowns and a cup containing wine. Each of these symbols will play a major part in the ceremony that follows. 

The Rings 
The focus of the Service of the Betrothal is the exchange of rings. The priest will bless the rings before making the sign of the cross over the heads of the Bride and Groom, saying: “The Servant of God, Demetrios (Derek), is betrothed to the handmaiden of God, Elpitha (Laura), in the name of the Father, the son and the Holy Spirit”.

Remember, the number three is very important to the Greek Orthodox ceremony; it is echoed the whole way through the ceremony, representative of the Holy Trinity.

The Koumbrao (religious sponsor) exchanges the rings three times. This symbolises the unbreakable and united strength of the couple: together they make an indestructible union. The weakness of one partner will be compensated by the strength of the other. By themselves, the newly-betrothed are incomplete – together they are made perfect. 

The Joining Of The Right Hands 
The priest then joins the right hands of the Bride and Groom, saying: “to join your servants, unite them in one mind and one flesh”. Their hands are to remain together throughout the service representing the ‘oneness’ of the couple. 

The Crowning 
The Bride and Groom are symbolically crowned as the king and queen of the new household that they are to rule with a combination of wisdom, justice and integrity.

The crowns are attached by white ribbon, strengthening the bond confirmed on the day, and signifying the glory and honour that God crowns them with. 

The Common Cup 
The next stage of the ceremony is the sharing of the ‘Common Cup’. A reading describes a wedding in Cana where Jesus performed the miracle of changing water into wine. A glass of wine is then shared between the couple as a symbol of combined life.

Following this, the priest will lead the Bride and Groom around a table on the alter three times. The table holds the Gospel and Holy Cross. It is an engaging symbol of the involvement of faith in their union. A special hymn is sung while this happens.

After a blessing, the priest removes their crowns and separates their hands because the Bride and Groom are now joined in marriage.