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Understanding Religious Orthodox Wedding Ceremonies in Greece
The Greek Orthodox wedding service is an ancient and beautiful ceremony, which has been celebrated in its current form for centuries. Please see below for a description of the entire service.
SERVICE OF THE BETHROAL:
The wedding ceremony consist of two parts- the Service of Betrothal (official engagement) and the Ceremony of the Sacrament of Marriage. During this part of the service the Priest blesses the rings by holding them in his right hand and making the sign of the cross over the heads of the bride and groom. The rings are then placed on the third fingers of the couple's right hands. The "koumbaro", the couple's religious sponsor commonly referred to as “the best man”, exchanges the rings between the bride and groom's fingers three times. Everything is done three times and is symbolic of the Holy Trinity.
CEREMONY OF THE SACRAMENT OF MARRIAGE:
This Ceremony consists of several key parts: first several prayers are said and then the priest joins the hands of the bride and groom. This symbolizes the couple's union.
The bride and groom are crowned with crowns, or "stefana", which are joined by a white ribbon and blessed by the priest. These crowns symbolize the glory and honor that is being bestowed on them by God, and the ribbon symbolizes their unity. The "koumbaro" then exchanges the crowns on the heads of the couple, again three times. The crowning is followed by a reading of the Gospel, which tells of the marriage of Cana at Galilee. It was at this wedding that Jesus performed his first miracle, changing water into wine, which was then given to the married couple. The bride and groom drink from the cup three times. It is their cup of life, symbolic of the fact that from this day forward, they will always share all life's experiences together.
THE CEREMONIAL WALK:
The priest leads the couple, who are still wearing their "stefana" three times around the altar as the couple takes their first steps together as a married couple. The "koumbaro" follows close behind the couple holding the "stefana" in place on the couple's heads.
THE REMOVAL OF THE CROWNS:
When the Ceremonial Walk has ended, the priest blesses the couple. The crowns "stefana" are removed and he then separates their joined hands with the Bible, reminding them that only God can break the union which they have just entered into.