The Greek Orthodox wedding ceremony is rich in traditions dating back to ancient days. Our faithful continue to celebrate these beautiful rituals today. Below is a discussion of the requirements for marriage in the Orthodox Church. For additional information on the rich weddings customs and traditions, check this link.
- For the union of a man and a woman to be recognized as sacramentally valid by the Orthodox Church, the following conditions must be met:The Sacrament of Matrimony must be celebrated by an Orthodox priest, of a canonical Orthodox jurisdiction, according to the liturgical tradition of the Orthodox Church, in a canonical church, and with the authorization of the diocesan Metropolitan.
- Before requesting permission from his Metropolitan to perform the marriage, the priest must verify that:
- Neither of the couple is already married to another person, either in this country or elsewhere,
- The couple are not related to each other to a degree that would constitute an impediment,
- If either person is widowed, he or she has presented a death certificate of the deceased spouse,
- If either person is divorced, he or she has presented a copy of the civil divorce,
- If either person has been previously married in the Orthodox Church, they have obtained an ecclesiastical as well as a civil divorce,
- If either or both of the parties are members of a parish other than the one in which the marriage is to be performed, a certificate has been provided declaring them to be members in good standing with that parish for the current year,
- A civil marriage license has been obtained from civil authorities.
- No person may marry more than three times in the Church, with permission for a third marriage granted with extreme caution.
- In cases involving the marriage of Orthodox and non-Orthodox Christians, the latter must have been baptized in water, in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. The Church cannot bless the marriage of an Orthodox Christian to a non-Christian.
- The Sponsor (koumbaros or koumbara) must provide a current certificate of membership proving him or her to be a member in good standing with the church. A person who does not belong to a parish, or who belongs to a parish under the jurisdiction of a bishop who is not in communion with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, or who, if married, has not had his or her marriage blessed by the Orthodox Church, or, who is divorced and has not received an ecclesiastical divorce, cannot be a sponsor. Non- Orthodox persons may be members of the wedding party, but they may not exchange the rings or the crowns.
Days when Marriage is not Permitted
Marriages may not be performed on fast days or during fasting seasons. These include:
- January 5 & 6
- Great Lent and Holy Week
- Pascha (Easter)
- Pentecost Eve and Pentecost Sunday
- August 1 through August 15
- August 29 (Beheading of St. John the Baptist)
- September 14 (Exaltation of the Holy Cross)
- December 13 through December 25
Marriages may be performed on these days only by permission of the Diocese Metropolitan.
It is a fact that the more things a couple holds in common, the more likely it will be that they live their married lives in peace and harmony. Shared faith and traditions spare newlyweds and their children many serious problems and strengthen the bonds between them.
However, the Orthodox Church blesses mixed marriages under the following conditions:
- The non-Orthodox partner is a Christian who has been baptized in water in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
- The couple should be willing to baptize their children in the Orthodox Church and nurture them in accordance with the Orthodox faith.
A baptized Orthodox Christian whose wedding has not been blessed by the Orthodox Church is no longer in good standing with the church and may not receive the Sacraments of the Church including Holy Communion, or become a sponsor of an Orthodox marriage, Baptism or Chrismation.
A non-Orthodox Christian who marries an Orthodox Christian does not automatically become a member of the Orthodox Church, and may not receive the Sacraments or be buried by the Church, serve on Parish Council or vote in parish assemblies or elections. To participate in Church life, one must be received into the Church by the Sacraments of Baptism or, in the case of persons baptized with water in the name of the Holy Trinity, following a period of instruction, by Chrismation.
Canonical and theological reasons prohibit the Orthodox Church from performing the Sacraments of Marriage for couples where one partner is Orthodox and the other partner is a non-Christian. Orthodox Christians choosing to enter such marriages fall out of good standing with their church and are unable to actively participate in the life of the church. While this stance may seem confusing and rigid, it is guided by the Orthodox Church’s love and concern for its member’s religious and spiritual well-being.
- Parents with their own children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren
- Brothers-in-law with sisters-in-law
- Uncles and aunts with nieces or nephews
- First cousins with each other
- Foster parents with foster children or foster children with the children of the foster parents
- Godparents with godchildren or godparents with the parents of their godchildren
- Godchildren of the same godparents
To secure a wedding organist, please contact Irene Maginas at (724) 251-9344
For more information, please contact Father Bender through the Church Office at (412) 682-3866.