Greek Orthodox Wedding
Author: Mavis ElliotIn many ways a Greek Orthodox wedding is very similar to a traditional Church of England wedding. The rituals of the day are similar, but in the service itself there is little flexibility as you cannot have readings or music that is not already incorporated in the service, neither is secular content of any kind allowed.
What is a Greek Orthodox wedding?
This ceremony is performed by a priest in a Greek Orthodox Church and lasts between 40 minutes and an hour.
Until recently, marriage in a Greek Orthodox Church was not legally binding and a couple would have to had also taken part in a civil ceremony in a register office or licensed venue. There are now however various venues in (mainly in London) where the religious and legal sides are combined in one ceremony.
Organising a Greek Orthodox wedding
Setting a date
There are a number of days when it is forbidden to get married, including the fasting period 40 days prior to Easter and the 40 days prior to Christmas for the same reason. The first 15 days of August, a period dedicated to celebrating the Virgin Mary, are also disallowed. Consult your local church to find out more as there are additional days which would be inappropriate.
If you are superstitious then don't marry in a Leap Year as it is considered unlucky.
Marriage can take place at virtually any time of the day, in accordance with the requirements of the priest. The only time that you can't get married is during Sunday Mass.
Booking your venue
The venue for the Greek Orthodox wedding is the Greek Church and it's important to check with the priest about both availability. There's not a large choice in terms of venue for the actual wedding as It's usual to get married in the local church. It is customary to have organised a few meetings with the priest prior to getting married, so try to arrange your date as early as possible so that you can attend all of these in good time.
The type of service you like
It is not possible to change the format of the service in any significant way. Other than hymns there is no music and the readings are all taken from religious texts. You cannot bring in musicians or music from outside.
Most couples will concentrate on introducing other kinds of music or readings into the wedding reception and put their own unique touches to the day,
Rehearsals sometimes take place, but they are not compulsory.
Guests and Family
The bride and groom can invite guests from all religious denominations. Everyone is welcome to the celebrations, but it is preferred that only those who have been baptised into the faith themselves enter the actual church itself.
The Greek Orthodox community is very close and focuses round the church, so everyone in it will be aware of the impending marriage. Traditionally, the church community is invited to the wedding and reception and they can provide a large part in the atmosphere of the ceremony itself.
The bride wears a white wedding dress with a long train. The groom wears a traditional black suit with a bow tie. Guests should wear smart outfits.
The big day arrives
The couple do not see one another on the day much as in any traditional Christian service. The groom will arrive before the bride, and both sets of families sit on opposite sides of the church.
The bride arrives with her father, or male relative/escort. The groom will travel to the church with his best man.
Traditionally, the bridesmaids will pay for the service itself. It begins with the betrothal ceremony, which includes a blessing and the placing of a ring on the right hand of the bride and groom. This is conducted by the priest.
During the ceremony, the bride and groom are given a cup of wine and crowns are placed on their heads. This is separate to Holy Communion, which takes place prior to the wedding day.
During the service the bride and groom kiss the Bible and walk around the altar-like ceremonial table three times to recognise the Holy Trinity and their happiness at the union of the two families.
At the end of the service, the wedding party leaves the church for the reception where there is dancing and, includes the money dance when guests pin money to the couple's clothes.
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