Wedding in the Church of ss. Cyril and Methodius in Prague, Czechia

Marriage in the Eastern Orthodox Church is a holy mystery (sacrament) in the Eastern Orthodox Church in which a priest officiates a marriage between a man and a woman. The typical Byzantine Rite liturgy for marriage is called the Mystery of Crowning, where the couple is crowned.

Main process

There are a handful of different steps that come into play for a marriage ceremony in the Eastern Orthodox denomination, although the main two pieces include the betrothal (engagement) and the crowning (marriage). [1]

Some weddings in the Greek Orthodox tradition may have a best man present, known as a Koumbaro. This however is not utilized in all Greek Orthodox weddings. [2] [3]

The Rite of Betrothal

The couple will exchange rings first, as a voluntary pledge to enter into eventual marriage.

Prayer of Betrothal

The priest will bless the bride and groom three times each. The rings are placed on the ring finger of the right hand. The priest will mention the Prodigal Son in his prayer.

The Psalm

The priest will recite Psalm 128.

The Rite of Crowning

The second stage (crowning) is the more official part of the wedding.


The bride and groom are both given candles.

The Joining of Hands

After some more prayers by the priest, the priest will join the right hands of both the bride and groom. He will recite "O' Sovereign Lord, stretch forth Your hand from Your holy dwelling place and join together Your servant (Groom) and Your handmaiden (Bride), for by You is a wife joined to her husband. Join them together in oneness of mind; crown them with wedlock into one flesh; grant to them the fruit of the womb and the gain of well-favored children."

The Crowning

After a blessing, the priest will crown the couple. He will say three times, the priest says, “The servant of God (GROOM) is crowned for the handmaiden of God (BRIDE) in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” The brief hymn, “Lord our God, crown them with glory and honor” is sung. The couple will exchange the crowns three times. If the bride wears a veil, the crown is simply placed atop her veil.

Scripture Readings

There are two readings from the New Testament. The first is from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians (5:20-33), where the priest exhorts married couples “to be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.” The second reading is from the Gospel of John (2:1-11).

Common Cup

After a recitation of the Lord's Prayer, the couple will drink from a common cup, three times each. Traditional practice involves wine, although some may opt to replace it with grape juice.

The Procession

The priest, holding the Book of the Gospels, will lead the couple around the table three times, singing three hymns.

Final Blessing, Removal of Crowns

The priest removes the crowns, saying “Accept their crowns in Your kingdom unsoiled and undefiled, and preserve them without offense to the ages of ages.” He tells them to “Go forth in peace” and the congregation sings “Mnogaja Ljeta” (“God grant you many years”). [4]

After all is done, the couple may choose to hold a wedding reception a week after.

Mystery of Crowning

Main article: Mystery of Crowning

The liturgy of the Mystery of Crowning involves the placement of crowns on both heads of the couple in a lengthy ceremony, which is preceded by a betrothal ceremony.[5]


Divorce is permitted in the Orthodox Church for various reasons. The more usual divorce occurs under the pastoral guidance of the spiritual director of the spouses when all attempts at salvaging a marriage have been exhausted. In such cases, remarriage may be possible but there is a special rite for a second marriage which contains a penitential element for the dissolution of the first, i.e. some of the more joyful aspects are removed.[6] Marriage is permitted up to three times in Orthodoxy but each divorce necessitates a short period of excommunication.

Another type of divorce is what is known as a "hieratic divorce", which does not signify the breakdown of the relationship but is a step taken for the sake of the theosis of the spouses and with the full support and blessing of the Church. This type of divorce may only take place where there is mutual agreement between the two spouses, and is usually carried out in cases where one or both spouses wish to enter into monasticism.

See also


  1. ^ ""Crown them with glory and honor." Marriage in the Orthodox Church - Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America - Orthodox Church". Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Retrieved 2024-04-01.
  2. ^ "Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal". Retrieved 2024-04-08.
  3. ^ Boston, Greek (2014-12-05). "Expectations of the Koumbaro or Koumbara". Retrieved 2024-04-08.
  4. ^ WebAdminOCbE (2019-12-31). "Parts of an Orthodox Wedding Ceremony". Orthodox Creations by Elaine. Retrieved 2024-04-01.
  5. ^ Thurston, Herbert (1910). "Ritual of Marriage". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York City: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 4 October 2022 – via NewAdvent.
  6. ^ Divorce, Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain.