Marriage in the parish normally involves at least one member of the parish. The Priest should be involved in the process early on, well before engagement if possible, or at very least from the time of engagement. (If neither person is a member of the parish, the couple must consult the priest as early in the process as possible.)
The Sacrament of Marriage is the beginning of a spiritual process that lasts a lifetime. As a rule, the Church only marries Orthodox Christian members who are regular communicants and who intend to live as an Orthodox Christian family. Certain exceptions (special dispensation) may be made for a "mixed marriage" (marriage to a non-Orthodox spouse who has received a form of Christian Baptism), but the non-Orthodox spouse must agree that any children will be baptized and raised in the Orthodox Church and also be open to converting to Orthodoxy in the future. Marriage of divorced persons also requires a special dispensation from the bishop. Special dispensation is obtained through the priest, who will bring the matter to the bishop.
Together the couple seeks to receive the saving grace of God in their lives. To be married in and by the Church without conspicuously intending to nurture that relationship in the Church is a mistake. To be married in the Church simply to please other family members, or because it is an ethnic custom, is dishonest to ourselves and to God. Before we can proceed with setting up a date for your marriage, there are certain steps that must be taken, and pre-marriage counseling must be scheduled.
Before you can be married in the Church, some preparation and pre-conditions must first be met by you. We are not a spiritual ‘fast-food’ service, dispensing spiritual services on demand. Marriage in the Church presumes a serious commitment to Christ and willingness to follow Him in obedience. If that commitment is not present or not desired, there is no point to pursuing Marriage in the Church.
• Speak to the priest before setting any firm dates. The proper day for Marriages is Sunday. Marriages on other days will be considered only on the basis of hardship and may require special permission from the Bishop.
• Attend the pre-marital counseling sessions prescribed by the priest.
• Live chastely (no sex before marriage), and do not live together in the same place until after the Marriage service is performed.
• The Couple and the Witnesses must receive the Sacrament of Holy Confession and prepare to receive Holy Communion prior to the Marriage.
• You will need to purchase/provide two candles.
• There are no fees for Marriage, but free-will offerings to the clergy celebrating the marriage and to the parish are customary. If you have not been a member of the parish and want a choir, a gift for that would be appropriate too.
• There are no fees for long-time members of the parish to use parish hall space for a reception; fees for non-members will be determined by the parish council. No receptions may be held at the Church on Saturdays.
• Make a sincere promise to live a Christian Orthodox life by making attendance of Liturgy on Sundays a regular part of your family life. This is an indispensable part of a successful marriage.
No wedding is put on the calendar until the initial meeting has taken place.
Be sure to consult the priest about every aspect of the Marriage (rings, dress, flowers, special music requests, etc.)
N.B. Orthodox Marriage is always performed in the church building, never outside.
Please call or e-mail the priest with any questions (firstname.lastname@example.org). I hope to see you in church this Sunday and every Sunday thereafter as we move closer to your wedding day. The Liturgy begins at 9:00 a.m. God bless you.
—The Very Reverend Justin Frederick, Rector
(940) 565-6753 or (940) 293-3032