Planning a Marriage
Congratulations on your engagement! We are glad you are considering having your wedding at Annunciation. Before planning a wedding, please read the following:
A wedding in the Orthodox Church is a sacrament. This means that in order for your service to take place in our parish, either the bride or the groom must be an Orthodox Christian in good standing in an Orthodox parish. They must provide a letter signed by the priest validating their good standing. In addition, the non-Orthodox spouse must be a Christian (see: "Inter-Christian Marriages" below).
Wedding service. God has blessed and fortified innumerable marriages through the Orthodox Christian sacrament of Marriage. The same text and structure of the service has been used for many centuries. That said, please note that neither the text nor the structure of the service may be altered in order to suit individual preferences.
Sponsors- While you may select whomever you wish to serve in your wedding party, it is necessary to have an Orthodox Christian in good standing serve as your sponsor for your wedding. Please ask your priest if you have any additional questions about this topic.
Scheduling- Please make sure that your anticipated date of marriage is available from the Church and the priest before you make other arrangements. Typically, weddings are performed on Saturday afternoons and rehearsals are conducted on the Friday before.
Rehearsal. The wedding rehearsal will take place prior to your wedding. Please check with your priest to schedule a rehearsal and encourage all members of your wedding party to attend the rehearsal in a punctual manner.
Civil marriage license- Each couple must have a civil marriage license prepared prior to their wedding. It is highly recommended that the couple bring their civil license to the Church on the day of the rehearsal, if not sooner. For more information: http://www.jacksongov.org/content/3310/3356/3358/default.aspx
Pre-marital sessions- Couples are required to participate in pastoral care/counseling sessions, prior to their marriage, with our priest. In these sessions, the priest will assist the couple with their questions about the service, help them fill out the required ecclesiastical paperwork and help them prepare for marriage from a spiritual, theological and practical standpoint. Please note, these session must be in progress or completed before the sacrament paperwork will be submitted.
Days When Marriage Is Usually Not Permitted
Marriages are usually not performed on fast days or during fasting seasons because marriages are celebrations. Days include Great Lent and Holy Week, August 1-15, August 29 (Beheading of St. John the Baptist), September 14 (Exaltation of the Holy Cross), and December 13-25, Theophany (January 5 and 6), Pascha, Pentecost, and Christmas (December 24 and 25). Marriages may be performed on these days only by permission of the diocesan Bishop.
It is a fact that, the more a couple has in common, the more likely they are to live together in peace and concord. Shared faith and traditions spare couples and their children, as well as their extended families, many serious problems and help to strengthen the bonds between them. Even so, the Orthodox Church will bless marriages between Orthodox and non-Orthodox partners, provided that:
The non-Orthodox partner is a Christian who has been baptized, in water, in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; and
the couple should be willing to baptize their children in the Orthodox Church and raise and nurture them in accordance with the Orthodox Faith.
A baptized Orthodox Christian who has not chosen to have their wedding blessed by God in an Orthodox Church are also choosing to no longer be in good standing with the Church. This means they are no longer able to receive the Sacraments of the Church until they their marriage is blessed in the Church. They also may not become a Sponsor because the sponsor is intended to be a model Orthodox Christian, which is the definition of being in good standing.
Note: 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, including Holy Communion, or be buried by the Church, serve on the Parish Council, or vote in parish assemblies or elections. To participate in the Church's life, one must be received into the Church by the Sacrament of Baptism or, in the case of persons baptized with water in the Holy Trinity, following a period of instruction, by Chrismation.
Canonical and theological reasons preclude the Orthodox Church from performing the Sacrament of Marriage for couples where one partner is Orthodox Christian and the other partner is a non-Christian. Please talk to your priest for further explanation.
As such, Orthodox Christians choosing to enter such marriages also choose to leave their Church family thus falling out of good standing making them unable to actively participate in the life of the Church until their non-Christian spouse becomes Christian or Orthodox Christian.
This stance is guided by the Orthodox Christian Church's love and concern for the Orthodox person’s religious and spiritual well-being.