“We would like you to have a religious wedding at your church,” we are often told, as an introduction to the announcement of the wonderful event that is taking place in the lives of young people. Indeed, the Holy Sacrament of Marriage is charged with a special meaning in the life of every man, believer or not. Let us first clarify the terminology used regarding the important moments that lead to the fulfillment of love and the establishment of the environment for its confession, what some today call prosaically, “family”. “Marriage” and “Marriage”, treated as synonyms, are in fact two independent realities. The term marriage refers to the “secular” understanding of the formalized relationship by the legislation in force, which establishes rights and obligations for two persons of the opposite sex, as a result of the free choice and decision of the two. The wedding or “crowning” is a Holy Sacrament, which is performed in the church and is par excellence “religious” because it spiritually unites a man and a woman who have the same faith and desire to manifest and perfect their love for one another, to to be saved together by the free and conscious fulfillment of the divine commandments by those who are crowned. Therefore, between the two there are some differences in content and social and spiritual reality that must lead us not to use them as synonyms:
1. Marriage is a civil contract of the competent authorities that establishes the precise obligations and rights of the subjects towards each other, towards the possible children and towards the civil society; Marriage establishes a rule that is both duty and right: to love one another, with all the consequences that derive from it;
Marriage is valid for life; The wedding has eternal value. Before God, the man and the woman are responsible for the sins of his / her spouse, as they become one by accompanying according to the divine norm;
The marriage is made by the temporary consent of the partners and its confirmation by the civil authority; The wedding is done by final sealing by Christ who is at the same time invited and participating in the wedding;
4. The officiant of marriage is the officer of marital status, the invisible performer of the marriage is the eternal Christ, hence its quality of eternal connection. The priest objectifies what happens unseen through the work of Christ;
5. Marriage is not absolutely necessary for salvation; Marriage is a condition and means of salvation of the two, in close connection, in fidelity and giving love (the phrase wants to avoid the possessive understanding of the notion “love”). The formula “religious wedding” is not happy, and grammatically falls into the category of pleonasms, because there is no “secular marriage” or “civil marriage”. Regarding “religious marriage” is a formula that loses the beauty and sacred content involved in the idea of ”marriage”. There are married but unmarried people. There are far fewer married but unmarried, as marriage is a condition of receiving the mystery of marriage, imposed by law by Alexandru Ioan Cuza and kept as such until today.
Entering the marriage hall, where the registrar is waiting, the couple to be married must agree with a “Yes” to his question if “willingly and unforced by anyone to marry X” as a citizen . What engages the responsibility of the bride and groom is the signature placed in the Civil Registry. Before the emotions are over, the two are declared husband and wife and invited to publicly show their affection for each other, to the roar of applause or the whispering whispers of their companions. Godparents are not needed, parents can be present if they do not have other occupations, but not mandatory. The witnesses are obligatory, who play a formal role, but put their signature next to that of the newlyweds.
In the church, the bride is “led” to the holy altar by her father or, failing that, by her godfather, in a solemnity given by the song “Come from Lebanon Bride!”, She becoming the subject of everyone’s admiration. In the back comes the groom, arm in arm with the mother, respectively the godmother, then the whole procession. In front of the Holy Altar it is entrusted to the bridegroom, in the presence of the godparents who become guarantors and watchmen for the happiness of those who are crowned. Christ awaits them in the church, who, from the Cana of Galilee, is present at every wedding as a guest and performer of the mystery of the transformation of the two destinies into one.
From this moment begins the ceremony of the Engagement, then of the Wedding, one of the most majestic and comprehensive ceremonies in the Orthodox Church, in which the bride and groom, godparents, parents, faithful people come together in prayer for good understanding, endless love, material well-being, birth of good children, spiritual growth and the salvation of young bridegrooms. They are no longer treated as ordinary citizens, but “slaves of God” that is, of maximum dignity: they “crown themselves” like kings and empresses not only symbolically, but real, because they become kings, one of the other’s heart, under the gaze of Christ the Pantocrator (from the dome of the church) Himself. It could be said that their citizenship is no longer of this world, but is heavenly because they come to confess a feeling and a state that resembles God, love:
„Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He who does not love did not know God, for God is love […] if God so loved us, and we owe it to ourselves to love one another..” (I Ioan 4, 7-11)
In general, the term marriage has a broader scope and refers to “family life”, regardless of whether the two have a wedding.
Encouraged by the same feeling of love, the bride and groom will discover that through marriage they gain social rights over each other, obligations to the descendants who will appear. Being temporary, the marriage can be dissolved by divorce, for various reasons, when the obligations end. In order to avoid the “obligations” of the contemporary narcissistic society, it proposes the legislated “cohabitation”, a form of evading the consequences of a connection with incalculable value.
The purpose of marriage is to the opposite pole, so that by invoking God in the service of the marriage of young people they are offered first of all His blessing which has as its main effect the transformation of feelings of love into perfect, exclusive and responsible love. There are three main purposes for which two people are accompanied by the work of God in the Church:
1. Exclusivity and order in conjugal life: “But because of fornication, let each one have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. Let a man give his wife due love, and not a man’s wife ”(I Corinthians 7: 1-2). The principle of faithful monogamy was preserved in the Christian tradition until the emergence of the hippy “culture” that degenerated the idea of modesty into family life, giving free rein to sexual fantasies, which led to the unprecedented development of the porn industry, the exploitation of women and the trafficking of live meat. from the modern world.
2. The birth of children and their upbringing in the spirit of Christian values (To 1, 28), as a natural consequence of responsible love between spouses. According to St. John Chrysostom, this is not the main purpose of the wedding, because otherwise, it would be inexplicable how some spouses who want to have children cannot have.
3. The joint work of spouses for the salvation of each. Only through marriage is the environment of communion between two people created, which leads to their salvation and that of the children. Any connection other than God’s blessing involving man and woman is not saving. Behind the Sacrament of Marriage is, therefore, the concern of the human being to fulfill his vocation as a social being who seeks salvation, through sacrifice and devotion. Man was not created to be a loner, but a person in communion. Celibacy is saving only if it is lived in purity of soul and body or if it goes to the monastic ideal, where the sociability of the human person takes the form of entering the monastic community, organized according to the family, but observing the vow of chastity, poverty and obedience.
In conclusion, through marriage the human being is projected into eternity, without which marriage is an imperfect beginning.
The two most important biblical moments that refer to the relationship between a man and a woman are found at the beginning of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament, which leads us to believe that God Himself gave it great significance. At the creation of the world, after each day of creation, they were all “very good.” But after He created man, God saw that “It is not good to be the only man on earth” (o 2.18).
To Adam God builds a woman from his own being, in a unity of origin and purpose to which Adam gives voice: “Behold, now, bone of my bones, and flesh of my body!” (To 2.23). Consequently, a man’s love for his wife must go as far as physiological identification by accompanying him before God.
The union between the two is also seen in the solidarity that Adam and Eve live in the expulsion from heaven, the joys and sorrows being now the common element of the couple formed. In the New Testament, the most important event in which Christ participates as a guest with His disciples and His Mother is the wedding at Cana in Galilee. The small town, Cana, became famous thanks to the wedding of two unknown young people, at which Jesus Christ, as God, gave a new dimension to the connection between man and woman, raising it to the rank of Mystery and revaluing the marriage and family that takes place. from her. It is well known that here Christ is asked by His Mother to help young people who are left without wine at the wedding, a delicate situation that would have put them in an unpleasant position in front of the guests. Although he apparently refuses, Christ transforms an impressive amount of water (“Six vessels into two or three buckets!”), About 120-180 liters) into wine of the highest quality, thus saving the shame of the organizing families and the joy of the young bridegroom.
The meaning of His presence at Cana will be revealed later when He calls Himself the “Bridegroom,” when He speaks of the kingdom of God. Considering himself a bridegroom, Jesus does not confuse himself with an ordinary man, but represents himself as the Bridegroom of the Church, the absolute model for the connection between man and woman, through marriage.
Ioan de Colov considers that the model of the connection between Christ and the Church is strong and must be followed, when he recommends that the love between man and woman be like that between Christ and the Church. “Which man, he wonders, would marry his bride, or which bride would marry a crucified one?” We observe here the same concern to strengthen the reality that the love between man and woman must be so strong and sacrificial that it accepts the impossible as possible, through the power of faith and love.
At the Cana of Galilee, Christ restored the condition of human dignity and by his reintegration into the state of normalcy, unlike previous pagan religions in which the woman was either a slave or a member in the possession of the polygamous man. The Lord begins his miracles by re-creating the primordial unity by refocusing man, man and woman, in the common human being, of equal value for each of them. Man is a social being and finds himself in the mirror, not alone, but in harmonious union.
There have always been seven Holy Sacraments in the Church, that is, services performed in the Church, through which divine grace is invoked to sanctify matter and to mediate the access of the human being to the heavenly realities, in the perspective of salvation. The Holy Sacraments are, therefore, the means left by Christ the Lord for the communion of men with the benefits of the Holy Spirit. These are: Baptism, Anointing, Confession, Communion, Marriage, Ordination, Anointing. They are performed in and by the Church which Christ founded by the sacrifice on the Cross. Through its services, the Church causes man to be restored from the unnatural state of sin to the image of God.
For example, Baptism, also called the “second birth,” makes it possible for man to come out of the death of ancestral sin and the potential entry of the neophyte into eternal life by becoming a member of the Church of Christ.
The anointing, which is administered immediately after baptism, represents the state of strength in the spiritual struggle, through the prayer of invocation of the Spirit and the anointing with the Holy Anointing, a symbol of the innumerable gifts of the Spirit.
Confession brings the consequent cleansing or washing of all confessed sins, true attacks on the life of communion and the promise of renunciation of evil, the purification of the heart, and its preparation for the reception of Christ.
Communion is the state of full communion with Christ and foretaste of divine realities; it is, at the same time, the “snack” that strengthens us on the way to the kingdom of light.
The sacrament of the Holy Anointing brings, through prayer and anointing with blessed oil, the bodily and spiritual healing of those who believe strongly.
A special place is occupied by the Sacrament of Ordination, which is administered to those specially prepared for the preaching of the gospel, who themselves become administrators of the other services to the faithful.
Marriage is also part of the Sacraments of the Church and through it the grace of the Holy Spirit is shared by the priest to a man and a woman, raising it from the level of a natural connection to that of spiritual representation of the connection between Christ and the church. The essential element in the Sacrament of Marriage is that through it the divine dwells. St. Paul calls it a “great mystery,” noting that it is not easily dissolved by the Lord’s command: “But I command the married, not me, but the Lord, that the woman should not separate herself from the man. […] Likewise the husband shall not leave his wife.” (I Corinthians 7: 10-11). Marriage is not a simple institution, but it is a divine mystery and event, in which each of the two participates dynamically, with every attitude, gesture, word, prayer, good deed… It is a Mystery because in it are anticipated the marriage of the Lamb and the union plenary session between Christ and the Church. Marriage does not find its ultimate significance in bodily satisfaction, in social stability, or in the procurement of the means to secure posterity, but in the preparation of future things in the kingdom of heaven, which those who are married will enjoy indefinitely.
In addition to the fever of preparations for the big event, parents and godparents have a duty to prepare especially for the soul. It is recommended that parents and godparents evaluate the quality of their relationship with God from the time the roles are established. This seeks a re-establishment of Christ’s place in one’s own family, in which young people invest hopes and expectations. The godfather family is somewhat placed on the pedestal, it is taken as a model and any wrong move can turn into a deep disappointment for future finites. Equally, parents must remember, if they forgot, that “parents’ prayers strengthen the foundations of children’s homes.” The long preparation for this moment, for which the parents experienced many emotions, must stimulate them to become more fervent prayers, as adapting to the new status, accepting another reality in life, getting used to family difficulties is a touchstone for both the future. groom and bride, and they will overcome it with the help of their parents’ prayers.
Secondly, it is appropriate to re-evaluate the relations with close relatives, friends, colleagues, the marriage of children can be a good opportunity to restore forgotten family friendships, to extinguish conflicts. The parable of the life is the best – or worst – sermon and teaching for children. Parents must take care to awaken their children to the pattern of the child of the widow of Nain whom the Lord raised from the tears of his mother. Last but not least, they must be constant, supportive, understanding and especially calm, showing wisdom and tact in preparing the wedding details. Each must consider tempering any arson of the other parent and becoming a peacemaker. Decisions are made during this period of preparation easily, quickly, unexpectedly, but often erroneously. If the father man is not as learned as his son, he has instead more wisdom and life experience, which he must make full use of, with tenacity and gentleness. The mother, although she experiences the most intense feeling that she is losing something, can get involved through the good advice given in her waiting sphere, so that the parents’ contribution can be felt as a generous and wise addition to the young people’s enthusiasm.
The financial “contribution” should be the least important in starting the family, neither the godparents nor the parents should seek to come out of anonymity through extravagant gestures, which would overshadow the importance of the bride and groom. Their role is more important after the wedding, through the way they are involved in building the happiness of the young family.
The ministering priest acts in the name of God, but, in essence, he is the perpetrator of the union only in a visible, symbolic form. The true doer of the mystery is Christ, the One who turned water into wine and unites the two destinies into one. The miracle is perpetuated over the centuries by showing that the Sacrament of Marriage is much more than it would be if it were considered only an ancestral tradition. “Crowning” is the right term for the religious ceremony, because it is not a simple service performed at some point in history; the coronation is a dynamic process, which the two begin at church and live all their lives, crowning each other with the virtues of each other, to perfection. That is why the last prayer in the service mentions: “receive their weddings in your kingdom, keeping them clean, blameless and unobtrusive forever and ever.”
So, obviously, the two are united for life, but from a theological perspective they are united for eternity. The eternal God does not do things temporarily and repetitively. The church has permission, but it is no exception. We insist that it is not only Christ who is “responsible” for marriage, as He is present and works in harmony with man’s participation. Before reaching the wedding, the bride and groom must ask for their help in inspiring them to make a good decision. They have to be honest with themselves. For example, everyone has to answer if they really want to get married and, if so, what they have to give up, what they have to give and what degree of compatibility there is between him and the other. This involves evaluating common goals: professional achievements, children, family friends. It is not good to leave love too many things to solve because it may fail. The eyes should not be closed when there are major defects. In this case, Holy Scripture recommends: “Ye shall not strive with the unbelieving yoke of strangers, for with what judgment is justice and iniquity? Or what does light have to do with darkness? And what is the agreement between Christ and Veliar, or what part does a believer have with an unbeliever? ” (II Corinthians 6.14).
The decision to start a family is more of a turning point in the life of any young person, similar to the decision to build a house; the important thing is not how long it takes, but to take into account all the details so that the result is sustainable, beautiful and safe. The decision involves expenses and waivers: “And which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?” Lest by any means, when he had laid the foundation, and were not able to finish it, all that saw him begin to laugh at him, saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. (Luca 14.28).
Marriage should not be done because “the time is coming”, as it is a subject of vocation. It is not a public problem to be “solved” for the sake of neighbors and it is not absolutely necessary unless it is assumed with all conviction and conscience. By marrying, many lost salvation instead of gaining it. The Bible attaches importance to both social status of marriage / unmarried:
“And if someone thinks that he will be dishonored for his virginity, if he passes the age of majority, and that he must do so, he will do what he wants. He does not sin; marry into. But he who is steadfast in his heart and is not compelled, but has dominion over his will, and has determined this in his heart, that he may keep his virgin, will do well. So, he who marries his virgin does well; but he who does not marry her does better. ” (I Corinthians 7.36). The success of marriage does not consist in knowing your partner, but in knowing you, not in expecting something from him, but from you.
Family life does not change the personality, but helps you put it into work, complementing the other. That is why proper spiritual training is needed. A first step that the two must take is to have some preparatory meetings with the spiritual priest, from which they can learn as many aspects of the spiritual life that can appear in the family, the way in which they can approach them, the limits. the authority of the spouses, the rhythmic connection with the spiritual priest and others.
Spiritual training involves maintaining the purity of body and soul, so that the most precious gift that the bride and groom can offer is virginity. It is advisable that, if the relationship between the future bride and groom has been “consumed”, abstinence for at least a few months before the wedding should be a way to thank God for discovering each person’s loved one and the opportunity for the bride and groom to rediscover after the wedding night both spiritually and physically.
At least two weeks before the happy event, the bride and groom must confess, preferably to the same clergyman, leaving behind the individual past and laying the foundations for the common future.
This confession must be complete because it is the only opportunity for things that could cause anguish, hidden feelings of guilt toward the spouse, to be removed by the forgiveness that God gives through the hand of the spiritual priest. Freed from a perhaps burdensome past, the bride and groom will have the openness and freedom to devote themselves to family life with their whole being, putting a new beginning, on the basis of full love, taking care that previous mistakes of ignorance or carelessness are not repeated
In the sacred space and in the sacred songs of the church choir, the Holy Sacrament of Marriage begins. They sing psalm 127, from which emerge the benefits and joys of family life: the bride and groom are glorified as those who “fear the Lord and walk in His ways,” “the woman is like a fruitful vine,” “the children are young offspring of the olive tree,” and finally , peace spreads over the faithful family. The psalm has not only a historical and emotionally preparatory connotation, but also an eschatological vision: “Behold, thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the Lord,” who “shall see the goodness of Jerusalem.” Furthermore, the wedding includes five more important moments. After a litany asking for God’s help for the crowning couple, three prayers take place. The first two give as examples families of Holy Scripture to whom God has poured out special gifts, caring for them in the period before the coming of Christ, and formulas for blessing the bride and groom present for family life. The third prayer is an invocation to God to descend and unite the two in soul and body, while the priest joins their hands, which remain so until after the reading of the Gospel.
The second important moment is the setting of weddings; the priest touches the heads of each of the bride and groom with the wreaths, saying three times at each formula “The servant (maid) of God X is married to the handmaid (slave) of God Y”. Three times, in the name of the Holy Trinity and as a reinforcement that they are present in the church not accidentally, but fully aware of what is happening in their lives. The more correct formula would be “crowned”, showing that it is not just about putting a crown of precious metal on the head in a symbolic sense, but about crowning one with the virtues and qualities of the other, becoming a complementary unit, in which what one lacks, he receives as a gift from the other. Once “crowned”, they remain for life with the crown of virtues to be cultivated, while the crowns seen remain in the church. The soul transformation of the two bridegrooms must be profound and sincere, received with all faith and consideration, because it is real and not a simple traditional ceremony. The phrase “putting on your pirostri” is only a crude reflection of a reality that those who created the formula never understood in depth.
The third important moment is the reading from the New Testament, respectively the text from The Epistle to the Ephesians of St. Paul the Apostle, chapter 5, verses 20-33 and the text of the Gospel of St. John, chapter 2, verses 1-11. The Pauline text refers to the complementarity between man and woman, the obligation of each to love the other, to submit both to Christ and to understand each other, sacrificing selfish desires, after the model of Christ who gave Himself for His Bride, the Church . The John text recounts the wedding at Cana in Galilee with the emphasis that Christ is present at the wedding both as a guest and as a miracle worker, that the mother’s prayer is for the children, and that seeing the miracle, everyone must believe more, including those who attend. at the wedding John 2:33 . Communion in the same cup, the third significant moment of the ordinance of the Wedding, precedes the dance around the table on which the Gospel is. This snack suddenly means that the two will taste together the goodness and hardships that life will put before, but also the fact that the bride and groom shared before the wedding, when it was done in the context of the Holy Mass.
Finally, the final blessing prayers when the weddings are taken from the bride and groom’s heads and the laying on of the Holy Gospel and the Holy Cross for the final promise is perhaps the most emotional moment, as the bride and groom are now engaged in common and uninterrupted holy work in the family. , throughout life. The priest utters the formula: “Behold, O spiritual sons, by laying your hands on the Holy Gospel and the Holy Cross, you have sworn before the Holy Altar that you will keep the bond of love and union between you to the grave clean, upright, unbroken and honest and that you will not depart from your duties, following the things that are pleasing to God and men. ” The promise is solemn, public, free and conscious. It also shows what are the four characteristics of a successful marriage, pure, that is, in full fidelity, that each bridegroom is entitled to do everything according to Christ’s order in the Church, uninterrupted, that is, without separation and syncope, and honest, that is, honored, respected by both cause, as well as friends and relatives.
The intellectual and emotional involvement of the bride and groom in the whole ritual of the church is extremely important, where they must pay maximum attention to what is said and done with them, leaving the care of what is happening around those entitled to do so. The bride and groom are the heroes and subjects of the service, they pretend in one thought, as they have never been and never will be. It is the essential moment in which they invite God to bless their love, and God is the first to come to their wedding, not only as a guest, but also as a performer. The ordained priest has the role of making visible, through movements and symbols, what happens unseen through the work of God. He represents the ecclesiastical authority, the one who has the quality to solemnly celebrate and receive in the Church of Christ the two in the image of Christ, the Bridegroom of the Church, in which the two will begin to work for their own salvation and that of the children with whom God gives them. . He is the witness and perpetrator of the indissoluble bond between two people who love each other, according to the formula of prayer “That which God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19: 6) , taken from Holy Scripture, where it is recommended by Jesus Christ Himself.
The service of the Engagement and the Wedding is done in the nave, that is, in the middle of the Church, in front of a table on which the Holy Gospel is placed, the cross, the weddings, the wedding rings and a candlestick with light. The bride is the one who must enter the church on the arm of the father, or godfather, in the solemn chords of the song “Come from Lebanon Bride!” the procession is followed by the groom, on the arm of the mother or godmother, then the whole convoy of brides, who are not spectators, but witnesses and together prayers with the bride and groom for the beginning of a beautiful and fruitful marriage. The bride is handed over to the groom, who is standing on the right, with the godfather next to him, and the bride to his left, facing the Holy Altar, next to the godmother. The engagement precedes the wedding. It is not a holy mystery, nor a pseudo-marriage and does not allow conjugal relations between future spouses. The engagement is a solemn promise that the two make before God to remain faithful until circumstances allow for the wedding.
The three important moments of the engagement are: the prayer of preparation of the engagement, in which one thanks for God’s work to bring all together, the putting on the rings, with the utterance of the engagement formula three times, and the prayer of thanksgiving for its fulfillment, in which include patterns of engagement in Holy Scripture and the divine authority of some characters in the ring: Rebekah’s engagement to Jacob, Pharaoh’s authoritative investiture of Joseph, the judge’s identification of the truth of Tamara’s words through the ring, the repression in the father’s love the prodigal son and his forgiveness. The engagement was performed in old age to young people who were going to be away for a while and did not have the opportunity to get married. For example, when the boy goes to the army (three years old), when he goes to war or on other fortuitous occasions. It is also worth mentioning that the engagement was a way to hire the village community to ensure that the young woman who stayed at home wore the honor of her fiancé until his return.
Today the engagement is performed before the wedding, in a common ceremony, only in exceptional cases they are separated, to avoid delicate situations: some young people do not understand its purpose and postpone the wedding too much, living in cohabitation, others make the engagement without parental consent and in ignorance, etc.
The lighted candle is, in church life, the symbol of purity of soul, of the power of faith, the fire of Christian love and the hope of the divine light to which those who light them hope, accompanying them with personal prayer. Wedding candles are brought to the church by the bridesmaids, then given to the godparents, who keep them lit during the religious ceremony. They are also known as “torches”, having the symbol of the light of faith that must accompany the bride and groom in life. They are lit by the light from the candlestick, by the priest, showing that from Christ he derives his family life. He said of Himself: “I am the light of the world. If anyone comes after Me, he will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life ”(John 8:12) . According to this biblical text, the torches represent Christ leading the way of those who are accompanied by marriage. They also symbolize the luminous model of the godparents, who will guide them on the path of life, and one of the prayers states that the bride and groom must “shine like lights in the sky”, that is, become a family model for others: ” Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. ” (Matthew 5:16) . Therefore, at the end of the service, the bride and groom leave the church carrying their torches themselves, because they become a family, a model of the love blessed by God in the church.
The use of the ring as a sign of promise and authority has pre-Christian roots. Before Christ, he represented the symbol of the authority, of holding the truth, of the social growth that one enjoyed in the social environment in which he lived. In Christianity, the first symbolism is the endless love that the two give each other. It symbolizes the authority with which they are invested, to love the other’s heart with love, and to always remember that they have a sacred duty to the well-to-do family.
The rings are placed on the groom’s right hand by the ministering priest, together with the godfather and godmother, respectively. At the end of the service, the groom changes the bride’s ring on the ring of his left hand, and the bride on the groom’s, where they will remain permanently. Changing rings signifies freely shared love, which each gives to the other.
Normally made of precious metal, they are placed on the heads of the bride and groom to symbolize: their royal dignity, the crowning with the virtues of the other but also the sign of martyrdom, that is, of renunciation and dedication. The crowning on the wedding day shows the state of maximum honor that the bride and groom experience. They are treated like emperors: they are given special honor: they are laid a new carpet under their feet, they are treated with undisguised honor, they are placed in the center of the richest table and they are happy by all. This makes the laying of wreaths present them both as kings and as servants for salvation. In the final prayer the formula is pronounced: “Receive their weddings in Your kingdom”, and as protectors are called “by God the crowned, just like the Apostles, Emperors Constantine and Helen”, as well as “St. Great Martyr Procopius ”who won the crown of martyrdom.
THE GLASS OF SALVATION
Whether it is a glass of wine or honey, it is offered to the bride and groom along with a slice of bread or cake to taste three times. The custom seems to be reminiscent of the life of the early Church when the bride and groom first attended the Holy Mass, partook of each other, then the wedding ceremony itself took place. It is also the symbol of the communion that the two will live in life, but also of the goodness they will enjoy in life. This symbolism seems to have taken hold in certain regions where wine has been replaced by honey. Without communion there is no real communion and salvation.
SURROUNDING THE TABLE
The bride and groom, led by the priest, surround the table on which the Holy Gospel is, after the snack from the “glass of salvation”. The book of the Gospel, in the Orthodox Church, is the symbol of the real presence of Christ, through His teaching, in the world. The circumscription of the Gospel symbolizes, on the one hand, the joy of companionship that has as its perspective the birth of children, as it is sung “Isaiah is dancing, the Virgin has given birth to a son by Emmanuel” (Isaiah 7:14) , and on the other hand symbolizes that the life of the newly founded family will revolve around Christ. It is also sung “Holy Martyrs that you have needed well” suggesting that the will of this life brings the crown of eternal reward.