Information regarding the sacrament of Marriage in the Orthodox Church.
Requirements Prior to the Wedding
1. Church Membership
One or both members of the engaged couple must be a member in good standing of a canonical Orthodox Church and be a pledging Steward for the current year. More importantly, the couple should be attending services on a regular basis. Preparing for a wedding can be a very trying time for couples. It is a time when remembering the mystical reason for the occasion often becomes obliterated by arrangements being made. This is an opportunity to begin a life long commitment to being active in the life of the parish.
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 also have received an ecclesiastical divorce. Please be advised, this process can take a few months.
If one is a member of an Orthodox Church other than St. Demetrios a letter of Ecclesiastical Good Standing is required from the priest of that parish.
2. Interfaith Marriages
The Orthodox Christian Faith blesses interfaith marriages under the following conditions:
- The non-Orthodox Bride/Groom must be a Christian who has been baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity. A copy of the certificate is required.
- The couple should be willing to baptize their children in the Orthodox Church.
3. The Role of the Sponsor
Usually one Sponsor exchanges both the rings and the crowns. If there are two sponsors, one may exchange the rings and the other the crowns.
4. Requirements to Serve as a Sponsor
Choosing a Sponsor or Koumbaros/Koumbara: In the wedding ceremony the Orthodox Church requires a Sponsor (koumbaros – male, Koumbara – female). The Sponsor is the one who stands as witness on behalf of the Orthodox Church during the ceremony. 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 marriage.
- The koumbaros/koumbara 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 introduction from the 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.
5. Best Man & Maid of Honor
Couples may still designate a Best Man and Maid of Honor who are not members of the Orthodox Church. If this is the case, the Sponsor stands next to the Groom or Bride depending on their gender.
6. Reserving 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 with the priest that the date is available.
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 Koumbaro or Koumbara
- Two decorated candles ( Usually come with the Stephana)
- A wedding tray filled with koufeta (White Jordan almonds).
In order to provide the engaged couple with every opportunity to enjoy all the blessings of married life, a number of appointments are needed with the priest, and the bride and groom prior to the wedding.
These meetings are:
- to initiate the application for an ecclesiastical license to marry.
- pre-marital counseling class which is required in the Metropolis of Atlanta for the couple to attend. These meetings occur four times a year. Specific dates and times can be obtained when meeting with the clergy.
- A description of the service and the meaning of the sacrament is explained and a walk-through of the ceremony is done.
Note: Premarital Class saves the couple time and money when they go to obtain a civil license.
Documents Needed for the ecclesiastical 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 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.
- a letter of Good Standing from parish priest
Civil Marriage License Couples are also required by law to obtain a civil marriage license in order for a priest to marry them in a Church. This license along with the Metropolitan license will be signed at the conclusion of the ceremony by the Priest, the Bride and Groom and a witnesses.
- Both parties (bride and groom) age 18 and over must apply in person, at the same time.
- There are two (2) forms of identification that may be required.
1. The first form of identification required is a valid photo identification issued by the federal or state government. The photo identification must have the correct legal name, date of birth and signature of the applicant. The following valid proofs of photo identifications are accepted: Driver’s License (U.S. State or Government), Passport, U.S. Military identification, State Identification Card (U.S. State or Government), Alien Registration Card
2. A second form of identification is required if the applicant has been issued a U.S. Social Security number. In accordance with Florida State Statute, any person who has been issued a Social Security number shall provide that number. Any person who is not a citizen of the U.S. may provide either a Social Security number or an Alien Registration number, if one has been issued. If neither has been issued, another form of ID may be required.
- There are no blood tests required. You do not need to be a resident of this county or the State of Florida to obtain a Marriage license. Marriage licenses are for use within the State for sixty-60 days from the date of issue.
- The “Family Law Handbook” should be read prior to obtaining the Marriage License. The “Family Law Handbook” is available for viewing in the Clerk of Courts Marriage and One-Stop-Divisions or on the Internet at www.flclerks.com.
- If either applicant has been previously married, the exact date of the last divorce, death, or annulment must be provided.
Any question on your civil license please contact: Broward County Courthouse 201 S.E. 6th Street, Room 270 | Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301 Telephone: (954) 831-6525 Ext. 7842 | Business Hours: 8:00am- 4:30pm (Monday – Friday)
Frequently Asked Questions Fees & Honorariums Church Fees
As long as the couple has been a steward of the Church a year prior to the wedding and are current stewards,there is no fee for the wedding.
Chanter: All weddings require a chanter who should be given a minimum honorarium of $100.00 made payable to the chanter.
Custodian: The custodian is the one who is responsible to open the church prior to the wedding, clean the church after the wedding and lock the building who should be given an honorarium of $75.00 made payable to the custodian.
Organist/Rehearsals: The Church organist is available, and also provides the rehearsals. Please contact the church office for more information.
Music: Church organ, Chanting, or traditional classical wedding music on CD, preferably strings.
Location of the Wedding Sacrament
It is not customary to perform weddings outside the Church…for example, in a home, back yard, 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 the Church Office and make arrangements for the Church to be opened prior to the ceremony. One hour prior to the wedding is the usual time given.
Flash photography is allowed. A videographer is also allowed, however, they must not have bulky and oversized stands and equipment. You do not want your wedding to look like a movie set. The photographer should be instructed to speak with Fr. Chris or Fr. John concerning restrictions just prior to the ceremony.
A sense of modesty must be maintained in the Sanctuary. Every wedding takes place in God’s holy house and requires a corresponding sense of decorum.
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.
Invitations to the Reception
No invitations should be printed until the date and time have been confirmed with the church office. Length of the Wedding Ceremony/Arrival Time The wedding ceremony is approximately 45 minutes long. Weddings are scheduled 2 1/2 hours apart. Each wedding party will have up to one hour prior to the scheduled wedding time for access to the Church.
The Orthodox wedding ceremony does not permit the active participation of non-Orthodox clergy during the ceremony. 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 the priests. If they have been baptized in the name of the Trinity and receive proper instruction, they are received through the sacrament of Chrismation.
Days when marriages are not permitted
- September 14 (Exaltation of the Holy Cross)
- December 13-25 (Nativity)
- January 5 and 6 (Theophany)
- Great Lent and Holy Week
- Pascha (Easter)
- August 1-15 (Dormition Fast and Feast)
- August 29 (Beheading of St. John the Baptist)