Wedding Guidelines & Information

St. Luke the Evangelist Greek Orthodox Church

 
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“If a fellowship of love is to be established through the Sacrament of Marriage, the man and woman who will be joined together and wish to follow Christ must travel the road set forth by Him: If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. (Matt. 16:24) It is impossible to love our companion if we do not deny ourselves. Moreover, the love of our spouse is simultaneously the road which leads to the love of God.

“Christ is the measure of the love which will govern the marital bond: As the Church is subject to Christ, wives should likewise be subject to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church… Therefore, by these two means, the woman and the man hope to become a loving couple. The wife sees Christ in her husband, and the husband loves his wife as Christ loved the Church. Christ is the loving bond of the husband and wife: and the love of Christ for the Church is the measure of the love which the couple hopes to attain. (The Mystery of Marriage: A Fellowship of Love, Newrome Press; here after MMFL)

Because Marriage, according to Orthodox tradition, is a communal event of prayer, a wedding must be performed within the context of the Orthodox Church in order for the Church to recognize and affirm the validity and authenticity of the marriage.

Requirements Prior to the Wedding

Church Membership:

One or both members of the engaged couple must be a member in good standing of St. Luke the Evangelist Greek Orthodox Church and be a pledging Steward for the current year. More importantly, the couple should be attending services on a regular basis.

When a couple decide to spend their lives together and to marry, they begin to consider a series of practical issues which must be planned prior to the celebration of the Sacrament. It is important that these practical considerations not eclipse the spiritual preparation that is essential to a positive beginning as a married couple. If we do not purify our souls and prepare a place for Christ to take up abode within us, we will be found wanting, without the proper foundation and refuge throughout our life.

Previously Married Couples:

If one of the spouses has been previously married and divorced, he/she must present a copy of the civil divorce decree. Furthermore, if a previous marriage took place in the Orthodox Church, the divorced spouse must have also received a “Decree of Ecclesial Divorce / Freedom to Marry” document and submit the original along with the marriage application. Please be advised, the process of an ecclesiastical divorce can take up to six months.

Interfaith Marriages:

The Orthodox Church allows interfaith marriages under the following conditions:

  • The non-Orthodox Bride/Groom must be a Christian who has received water baptism in the name of the Holy Trinity. A copy of the original baptismal certificate is required.

  • The couple must agree to baptize any future children in the Orthodox Church.

Choosing a Sponsor or Koumbaros/Koumbara?

The Mystery of Marriage in the Orthodox Church requires the participation of a Sponsor (koumbaros - male, koumbara - female). The Sponsor stands as witness on behalf of the worshipping community during the sacrament. Hence, it is imperative that this person be an Orthodox Christian; there are no exceptions to this rule. The Sponsor exchanges the rings and the crowns during the ceremony. By participating in the sacrament in this manner, the sponsor is making a pledge to be a guide and support to the couple.

The Role of the Sponsor

While is not uncommon for the Sponsor to be asked to serve as the godparent of the couple’s first child, it is at the discretion of the couple. According to the practice of the Church, there is always only one sponsor at each sacrament. Therefore, one Sponsor exchanges both the rings and the crowns.

Requirements to Serve as a Sponsor

  • The sponsor must also be a member in good standing of the Orthodox Church.

  • If he/she belongs to another Orthodox parish, the priest must receive a letter of good standing. from his / her parish priest.

  • If he/she is married, the marriage must have been blessed by the Orthodox Church; if divorced (after marriage in the Orthodox Church) an ecclesiastical divorce must already have been issued.

  • A person who lives with another person as though married is not permitted to serve as a sponsor.

Best Man & Maid of Honor

Couples may still designate a Best Man and Maid of Honor who are not members of the Orthodox Church. In such cases, the Sponsor stands next to the groom or bride. The Best Man / Maid of Honor have no active role in the sacrament.

Reserving and Setting a Wedding Date with the Church

Reservations for Wedding dates are made at a scheduled appointment with the priest by the person being married. Do not reserve hotels or print invitations without confirming the proposed wedding day with the priest. Due to the time required for pre- marital preparation at least 3-4 months are needed to complete the required program in order to be married in the Church.

Items Needed for the Wedding Day:

The couple may decide which of the following items are to be provided by the Sponsor or themselves:

  • Two Wedding Rings (always provided by the spouses)

  • The Crowns or Stephana. Typically, provided by the Sponsor

  • Two appropriately decorated candles (No oversized candles that cannot be comfortably held by the couple are permitted)

  • A wedding tray filled with koufeta (Jordan almonds). The Church can provide a tray if needed.

Pre-Marital Preparation

Pre-marital preparation is conducted by Fr. Michael, and is not optional. Preparation takes the form of conversation and discussion over 4-8 sessions at the Church. Why is this necessary? Because those couples who “choose a Church wedding, more often than not, approach it as a secular event, which has been instituted as a pretext to throw a party, to put on a show and to entertain guests. Couples who approach their wedding with such ideas will not experience their wedding as a mystery of true love, which is characterized by an enduring sacrificial offering of the one to the other.” (MMFL) Pre-marital preparation helps put things into a clear ecclesial perspective, so that through the power of spiritual armament, the couple may enter the sea of life and overcome every difficulty which they will encounter

Documents Needed for the Ecclesial License to Marry

At the first consultation with the priest you will apply for the ecclesiastical license to marry. The following items are required to complete the application to be married in the Church.

  • Baptismal certificates/dates for the Bride and the Groom.

  • If the Bride or Groom was previously married in a civil service, a copy of the civil divorce must be presented.

  • If the Bride and Groom are already civilly married, a copy of the Certificate of Marriage must be presented.

  • If the Bride or Groom was married before in the Orthodox Church, they must present the original ecclesiastical divorce certificate.

Civil Marriage License

No more than 30 days before the wedding day, couples are required to file for a marriage license from the Boone County Recorder of Deeds, 801 East Walnut, Rm 132, Columbia, MO, 65201. The couple must appear at the Boone County office together, present valid government IDs and Social Security numbers. The cost of the county license is $51. The license should be given to the priest for completion.

Preparation for the Sacrament

The Bride and/or Groom who are of the Orthodox Faith are required to participate in the sacraments of Holy Confession and Holy Communion the week before the wedding. Fr. Michael will assist in planning Confession, and can help find a suitable confessor if needed.

Sexual Relations Prior to Marriage

Marriage in the Orthodox Church is a sacrament and Jesus Christ is the celebrant. He is being asked to bless your marriage and life together. As with any sacrament one’s life must be lived according to the teachings and gospel of Christ; this includes abstinence before marriage. “The negative effect of premarital sexual relationships of young people plays a significant part in the crisis of the Sacrament of Marriage. This is well known by spiritual fathers and those who posses spiritual awareness and deeper insight.” Therefore, as part of a couple’s preparation for Christian marriage, those engaging in sexual relations are asked to cease. “We must remember that sexual relations are not the right way to “get to know” someone – this is an illusion which obscures reality. Why? Because it gives almost exclusive importance to the sexual relationship and nothing to the entire personality of the individual.” (MMFL)

Living Together

The Church orients us towards Christ and encourages us to seek to receive divine Grace. She teaches us that Christ ought to be our foundation and refuge throughout our life. The Church can never condone living together prior to the marriage. Statistics gathered by secular professionals clearly show that there is a HIGHER divorce rate among couples who have lived together prior to their weddings than those who have not! If a couple is living together, they need to separate while they prepare for marriage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Invitations to the Reception

  • No invitations should be printed until the date and time have been confirmed with Fr. Michael.

  • If you wish to have the Fr. Michael and his Presvytera (wife) attend your reception, please send them an invitation in advance.

Church Fees

As long as the couple has been a steward of St. Luke the Evangelist Greek Orthodox Church the year prior to the wedding and current stewards, there is no fee for the wedding. Parishioners not stewards the previous year must become current stewards and provide $750.00 to St. Luke the Evangelist Greek Orthodox Church.

Parishioners from other Orthodox jurisdictions who wish to use the Church for their wedding need to provide $1,000 to St. Luke the Evangelist Greek Orthodox Church and provide a letter of good standing from their home parish. This payment is due at the signing of the wedding papers.

Priest

Fr. Michael conducts the wedding rehearsal and the pre-marital sessions. It is at your discretion to provide an honorarium for the priest.

Chanter

All weddings require a chanter who should be given a minimum honorarium of $75.00 made payable to the chanter.

Organist

Musical instruments are foreign to the tradition of the Orthodox Church, and therefore are not part of any of her services.

Recessional / Processional

The Chanter will sing a traditional hymn during these times. The couple may select a hymn from a provided list of traditional options.

Purchasing Crowns & Candles for the Wedding

Fr Michael can direct you to suitable places to obtain these items.

Location of the Wedding Sacrament

Weddings are not permitted to take place at any venue other than the Church i.e. at a home, resort, hotel or local park. When an Orthodox Church is available it must be used for the ceremony.

Flowers in the Church

Floral decorations are allowed on the pew ends or in front of the sanctuary. The florist must contact Fr. Michael and make arrangements for the Church to be opened prior to the ceremony.

Photographer

While photography is allowed during the Sacrament, the photographer must meet with Fr. Michael prior to the ceremony to discuss what is permissible and appropriate.

Wedding Gown / Bridesmaids’ Dresses

A sense of modesty must be maintained within the Church. Every wedding takes place in God's holy house and requires a corresponding sense of decorum. Therefore, off-shoulder, low-back, or high-hems gowns/ dresses are not permitted.

Groomsmen & Ushers

Non-Orthodox persons may act as ushers or bridesmaids at an Orthodox Wedding, but the koumbaros/koumbara must be an Orthodox Christian, as stated earlier.

Length of the Wedding Ceremony/Arrival Time

The wedding ceremony is approximately 45 minutes long.

Non-Orthodox Clergy

Non-Orthodox Christian clergy presence is permitted under the following conditions:

  • The Orthodox wedding ceremony does not permit the active participation of non- Orthodox clergy during the ceremony.

  • At the conclusion of the Orthodox ceremony, the guest clergyman, will be properly acknowledged and may offer words of blessing to the couple.

Vows

The Mystery of Marriage in the Orthodox Church does not include the exchange of vows.

Non-Orthodox Spouses

A Christian from another church who desires to marry an Orthodox Christian does not automatically become a member of the Orthodox Church. If they would like to become a member of the church please speak with Fr. Michael. Note that conversion requires a minimum one-year commitment.

Dates

Days when marriages are not permitted:

  • January 5 and 6 - The Eve of Epiphany

  • Great Lent and Holy Week

  • The Apostle’s Fast (dates and length vary by year)

  • August 1–15 - Fast of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary

  • August 29 - Feast of the Beheading of John the Baptist

  • September 14 - Feast of the Cross

  • November 15 - 25 - Nativity Fast

  • All Holy Days of our Lord 

 
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