A Celebration of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony
Bride's name and Groom's name
Day of the Week, Date
Name of Church
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Maid of Honor
Guest Book Attendant
The Very Reverend Name
Name of Church Choir
Under the direction of Name
With deep gratitude and love!
Thank you for joining us today and sharing our joy! What a blessing it is to begin our new lives together knowing that those whom we love so dearly are celebrating with us as we sanctify our marriage in and through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior! May He bless you, even as He has blessed us so abundantly, for many years to come!
Bride's name and Groom's name
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Holy Matrimony is the Sacrament of the Orthodox Christian Church by which a man and a woman are united together "in faith, and in oneness of mind, in truth, and in love," acknowledging that their love is rooted in the God Who Is Love Itself. The marriage ceremony as celebrated today traces its present form back to the fifth century. It consists of two distinct services -- the Betrothal and the Crowning.
The Betrothal was originally celebrated separately from the Crowning, marking a couple's pledge to marry at a later date -- a type of "liturgical engagement," so to speak. The exchange of rings takes place at this time. The rings are blessed by the priest, who takes them in his hand and, making the Sign of the Cross, says, "The servant of God, Groom's name, is betrothed to the handmaid of God, Bride's name, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
The exchange of rings shows the unity of two wed into "one flesh" and the sharing of the bond of love in which each will be enriched by the union. By themselves, the newly betrothed are incomplete; together, they are made perfect, whole, and complete. Each will be enriched by the other in the Sacrament of Marriage. The bride and groom are given candles to hold -- a reminder that it is Jesus Christ, the "Light of the World," Who will guide them through the years they will share as husband and wife.
The Crowning begins with the chanting of Psalm 128. The Crowning is the focal point of the wedding ceremony. The bride and groom are crowned as the "king and queen" of their own kingdom, the home, which they will guide with wisdom and love as an extension of the Kingdom of God.
The crowns also recall the victorious crown of martyrdom, since every true marriage involves self-sacrifice from each spouse. Placing the crowns above the heads of the bride and groom, the priest proclaims, "The servants of God, Groom's name and Bride's name, are crowned in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
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The Scripture Readings
"Thou hast set upon their heads crowns of precious stones; they asked life of Thee, and Thou gavest it them." The words of Psalm 21 introduce the two scripture readings.
The first, Ephesians 5:20-33, reminds us that the love of Christ has for His People, the Church, is the same love a husband and wife must have for one another.
The second, John 2:1-12, recounts Christ's first miracle, performed at the marriage feast at Cana in Galilee, at which He changed water into wine. In remembrance of this blessing, wine is given to the bride and groom in a "common cup." This cup signifies a life of harmony in which there is a mutual sharing of joy and sorrow. The drinking of wine from the common cup serves to impress upon the couple that, from that moment, they will share everything in this life as they anticipate the life of the world to come.
The Joining of Hands and Procession
Joining the hands of the bride and groom, the priest leads them in taking their first steps together as husband and wife. The circular procession -- in the early days of the Church, it was an actual dance! -- reminds the couple of the eternity of marriage, at the center of which is Christ Himself.
The Final Blessing
The crowns are removed as the priest prays that God will "receive their crowns into Thy Kingdom, preserving them spotless, blameless, and without reproach." The final blessing is imparted, after which the priest, on behalf of the assembly, wishes the couple many years of blessings and grace as they delight in their love for one another -- a love that finds its source and fulfillment in the God Who Is Love Itself.
Glory to God for all things!
Special thanks to Saint Joseph Orthodox Christian Church, Wheaton, IL
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