I have a cousin who is being married in the Eastern Orthodox Church in April and today’s post came out of a conversation with another cousin about said wedding (that I will miss because I’ll be halfway around the world at the time).
Two quick background notes on Eastern Orthodoxy: 1. It is the second largest Christian communion in the world and 2. along with Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism, it is one of three members of the Holy Catholic Church.
The wedding consists of two parts, the exchange of the rings and the crowning. The exchange of the rings is the same as in any Judeo-Christian wedding where lovely things are said about love and faith and devotion. This is the betrothal ceremony, after which, there is a lighting of candles and the joining of the couple’s right hands, which stay joined for the remainder of the wedding ceremony. During the crowning ceremony crowns are placed on the heads of the bride and groom. The crowns are “signs of the glory and honor with which God crowns them during the Mystery. The groom and the bride are crowned as the king and queen of their own little kingdom, the home – domestic church, which they will rule with fear of God, wisdom, justice and integrity.”* The crowns are also meant to be representative of the crowns of the martyrs as marriage involves a high level of self-sacrifice. After the crowning come the Epistle and the Gospel. The Gospel is traditionally the passage about Jesus’ first miracle at the wedding in Canaan and is followed by the bride and groom drinking wine from the “common cup” which symbolizes the life of sharing they have ahead of them. Finally, there is a walk around the altar, the removal of the crowns, separation of the hands and the presentation of the couple.
And then, as with pretty much every wedding everywhere in the world, afterwards there’s a big party to celebrate the new couple.