Eastern Orthodox Wedding Ceremony Checklist
by Robin Beth Schaer
12+ Months Before
- Begin to envision your ceremony. Should it be long and symbolic? Short and sweet? Do you want to include all the rituals or just the highlights?
- Pick wedding date and time preferences. Depending on your church, there may be certain days, or even times of day, which are off-limits. Eastern Orthodox weddings cannot be performed during periods of fasting, after Easter and Christmas, and the day preceding a Holy Day.
- Choose a location and officiant.
- Explore your church's marriage requirements. You may have to show your baptismal certificate.
- If either you or your mate isn't Eastern Orthodox, ask your priest about requirements for intermarriage and possible conversion.
- Most Eastern Orthodox Churches won't allow remarriage if your first spouse is still alive without an ecclesiastical recognition of divorce. The process can be long and complicated, so if either one of you needs this recognition, start the paperwork now.
9-11 Months Before
- Meet with your officiant to discuss ceremony structure and marriage requirements. Your priest may want to help you choose readings and blessings for the ceremony.
- Choose a koumbaros, a best man who will play an important ceremonial role and remain an important person in your lives -- he's often named godparent to your first child. Remember, the koumbaros must be a member of the Eastern Orthodox Church in good standing.
- Choose attendants and ask them to do the honors. Make sure they understand what's involved.
- Ask your priest if there are dress requirements for the church, such as covering one's shoulders for the bride.
- Choose crowns for the Crowning Ceremony.
- Although pre-wedding counseling may not be required, it is recommended that you meet with your clergy to discuss pertinent issues.
6-8 Months Before
- Make arrangements with your church if you or other Orthodox members of your wedding party want to receive communion on the SunDay Before the wedding.
- Consult with your stationer about invitations, programs, and place cards. You may want to order pew cards to ensure close family and friends are seated in the churchs first few rows.
- Discuss ceremonial music with your priest. The choir usually sings wedding hymns at Eastern Orthodox weddings. The priest may determine your choice of music.
3-4 Months Before
- Consider specific decoration needs, such as an aisle runner, flowers, wineglasses, and candles.
- Book your rehearsal-dinner site and finalize the guest list.
2 Months Before
- Order ceremony programs if you plan to use them. It is helpful to have programs so your non-Orthodox guests will understand the symbolic rites that make up an Eastern Orthodox wedding.
- Prepare and mail invitations. Include pew cards for family and friends who should be seated in the churchs first few rows. Guests can present these cards to ushers at your ceremony, as a sign that they should be seated in the reserved area.
3-4 Weeks Before
- Have a final meeting with your priest.
- Finalize readings and other special ceremony details.
- Send rehearsal-dinner invitations.
1-2 Weeks Before
- Touch base with your priest and koumbaros.
- Rehearse the ceremony.