Eastern Orthodox/Eastern Orthodox Wedding


My fiance and I are getting married in May. He was born Christian Orthodox and I will be joining the church before the wedding. I have done a lot of reading as the ceremony is so very different from Protestant and I had no clue what it entailed. I understand the service and the logic behind it but am having trouble finding what we need to provide. We will be meeting with Father soon for our counseling and I'm sure he can answer some of this but I hate procrastination and lack on patience.
I understand we  are to provide our rings, crowns, tray, candles. I think. Are we supposed to provide our common cup as well? is that two large candles (for the alter) and two small candles(to hold)? Should they be long burning candles to make sure they last the hour or so that the ceremony takes?
Thank you

Dear-in-Christ Bobbie,

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding, and on becoming an Orthodox Christian. God grant you and your fiancÚ many healthy and prosperous years!

One thing you will learn in your journey of salvation is that Orthodoxy encompasses a lot of practices. The Church in America is a hodgepodge of ethnic customs. We share a common belief and Tradition, certainly, but there is often much variation in the "little" things that express our Faith. Therefore it is a little difficult to answer with certainty your questions. Different parishes do things a little differently.

The priest, of course, will be able to give you the specifics for your parish. Here are some examples of what I am talking about. In a Russian parish, the crowns are often actual crowns with metal, jewels and cloth. These are provided by the church and you don't get to keep them. You don't even get to "wear" them, they are held over your head by the sponsors. There are often good-natured bets on which sponsor will have to switch arms first or how many times they will switch arms before the service is completed! Greek parishes have flowered crowns, connected with a ribbon between the bride and groom that are worn on the head, the sponsors have a much easier time of it! You provide your own crowns in that case. I find that parishes with lots of converts tend to go "Greek" because they get to keep the crowns, which often go in a nice wooden box with a glass top to be displayed prominently in the home. So that is definitely a question for the priest.

On candles; our parish has specific candles especially for weddings. They are bought from the church, but there are many Orthodox suppliers online. The priest should certainly have a recommendation and source I would imagine. Long white candles decorated with nice bows will often suffice depending on your taste and budget.

The parish may have a "common cup" that they use, but often a family member will buy one to use so that the married couple can keep it as a memento. That is also the priest's call.

Coming to Orthodoxy from the Methodist Church, almost 40 years ago, I do know that there are many differences from Protestantism. It can seem a bit overwhelming. There is absolutely no shame in not knowing everything! You have the rest of your life to learn. While we "old-timers" and life-long Orthodox take much for granted, if we go to a new parish, we also have to relearn the "local" customs!

Wishing you and your fiancÚ a Blessed Nativity Feast, a prosperous New Year and a glorious Epiphany.

Your servant,

Eastern Orthodox

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