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XXX
and
YYY

Wedding
June 17, 2006

Part-1

 

The Wedding Party

Officiate
XXX

Parents of the Bride
XXX and YYY

Parents of the Groom
XXX and YYY

Koumbara
XXX

Best Man
XXX

Maid of Honor
XXXX

Bridesmaids

XXXYYY

Groomsmen
XXXYYY
XXXYYY

Ring Bearer
XXXYYY

Flower Girls
XXXYYY
XXXYYY


The Ceremony

The wedding ceremony of the Orthodox Church is an ancient and meaningful service steeped in ritual and symbolism. One of the seven Sacraments, it has been celebrated in its present form for centuries. In it, the bride and groom make a solemn promise before God to love and be true to one another. Marriage is more than a public agreement between a man and woman to share their lives together; it is an action sealed by the Lord Himself. Everything in the ceremony has a special meaning and significance, especially the repetition of each act three times to symbolize the mystical presence of the Holy Trinity.

Part-2

 

An Orthodox wedding differs from the customary marriage services of other Christian communities. There are no vows exchanged. In fact, the bride and groom do not even speak to each other during the service. This is because, according to Orthodox theology, this is a Sacrament of the Church rather than a contract between two people. The couple is in the church to receive Christ's blessing and his community, through the priest.

The Orthodox marriage ceremony consists of two parts, the Service of the Betrothal and the Service of the Crowning

The Betrothal

Prayers are chanted, asking God to grant Niki and Chris perfect and peaceful love and salvation and to bless them with children. The priest then blesses the rings. The rings become the visible pledge of the betrothal and symbolize the unbreakable commitment of the couple, based on their mutual consent. Holding the rings in his right hand, the priest makes the sign of the cross over their heads three times. He then places the rings on the fourth finger of their right hands and the koumbara exchanges them three times. 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, by the perfections of the other, by themselves, the newly betrothed are incomplete, but together they are made perfect. The Betrothal ends with a prayer that the Lord might make strong their betrothal in faith, truth and love, make them of one mind, and grant them His Heavenly blessings.

The Sacrament of Marriage
The Crowning
During the crowning service, which is the climax of the wedding, the Priest, in several prayers and petitions, asks Almighty God to bless the marriage and to grant to the groom and bride a long and peaceful life, fidelity, mutual love and understanding, children, happiness and prosperity. At the end of the third prayer, the priest, who calls upon God "to join them into one mind and one flesh," unites the right hands of the groom and bride, an act in which depicts the unbreakable and everlasting unity of the couple.
The wedding crowns "stefana" (stefana) are signs of the glory and honor with which God crowns the couple during the sacrament. The stefana, joined with a ribbon signifying the unity of the couple, are held aloft by the priest as he blesses them. The crowns are placed on Niki and Chris and they become husband and wife, king and queen of their home, which they must rule with wisdom, integrity, justice and love. The koumbara exchanges the crowns on their heads three times as a witness to the sealing of the union.

Part-3

 

The Common Cup

Following the crowning, St. Paul's Epistle to Ephesians is read, regarding the mystery and holiness of marriage and the responsibility of a husband and wife to each other. The Gospel is read, describing the marriage at Cana of Galilee that was attended and blessed by Christ. There He reserved his first miracle by converting water into wine and gave of it to the newlyweds. In remembrance of this blessing, the priest gives the husband and wife a cup of wine from which they each drink three times. Niki and Chris drink from the "Common Cup" of life, denoting the mutual sharing of joy and sorrow, the token of a life of harmony. Their joys will be doubled and their sorrows halved, because they will be shared.

The Ceremonial Walk: The Dance of Isaiah

The Priest then leads Niki and Chris in a circle around the table three times while hymns are chanted. The hymns remind the couple of the sacrificial love they are to have for each other in marriage. The Gospel book and Cross on the table, firmly place Jesus Christ at the center of their marriage. The circle represents eternity and the couple's oath to preserve their marriage forever. These are their first steps as a couple and the Church, embodied in the priest, leads them. As they walk, the Koumbara holds the crowns that are on the couple's heads. At the conclusion of the Ceremonial Walk, the priest removes the crowns from Niki and Chris and asks God to grant them a long, happy, and fruitful life together. He then separates their hands, reminding them that only God can separate them from one another.

It is interesting to note:

The right hands are used in putting on the rings. According to all Biblical knowledge we have, it is the right hand of God that blesses; it was to the right hand of the Father that Christ ascended; it is the right that those who will inherit eternal life will go. Thus, in the Sacrament of Marriage, the Church preserves the superiority of the right hand.

Koufeta is a Greek word of Latin origin for Jordan Almonds (bitter-sweet sugar coated almonds). In the early days of the Church, koufeta were distributed to the newlyweds to symbolize the bitterness and sweetness of the married life. The tradition of the koufeta is being carried for over 2000 years and its meaning is shaped according to the culture where the wedding takes place. In the Greek culture, an odd number of white koufeta are given to the guests. The white symbolizes purity, the egg shape fertility and love with no boundaries. The odd-prime number of koufeta is indivisible, and it symbolizes the inseparable bond between the husband and wife.

The Bride and Groom are given white candles to hold throughout the service. The lighted candles symbolize their beliefs in Jesus Christ, the light of the world, and the purity of their lives, which should shine with the light of virtue.

Part-4

 

We would like to thank each and every one of you for sharing our special day with us. We would especially like to thank our parents for all of the love and support they have given us throughout our lives. Your love and support means the world to us, not only today but also in the days to come.
With Love,
Niki & Chris

Part-5

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