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The marriage service in the Orthodox Church begins with the words,

Blessed is the Kingdom, of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

This exclamation emphasizes the seriousness of marriage, and also the goal of marriage. The goal and spiritual purpose of marriage is the mutual salvation of the husband and wife. Each is to help and encourage the other in save his or her soul. Each exists for the other, as a companion, a helper, a friend. The primary purpose of an Orthodox wedding is providing a way for human beings to save their souls. The wedding ceremony itself is filled with rich symbolism that makes this whole aspect of marriage very clear.

An Orthodox Marriage Ceremony consists of two parts: The Betrothal and The Crowning

The Betrothal

A specific prayer is said then taking the rings, the priest blesses the bridal pair, making the sign of the cross with the ring of the bride over the bridegroom, and with that of the bridegroom over the bride, saying to the groom:

The servant of God, Kevin, is betrothed to the handmaiden of God, Marie, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
And to the bride:
The handmaiden of God, Marie, is betrothed to the servant of God, Kevin in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

And when he has said this to each of them three times, he places the rings on their right hands. Then the bridal pair exchange the rings, and the priest a prayer.

Blessing & exchange of rings

The Crowning

The priest shall inquire of the bridegroom: Do you, Kevin, with a good, free, and unconstrained will and a firm intention to take as your wife this woman, whom you see here before you?
Groom: I have, reverend father.

And the priest, looking at the bride, shall inquire of her:
Do you, Marie, with a good, free, and unconstrained will and a firm intention to take as your husband this man, whom you see here before you?
Bride: I have, reverend father.

The priest prays aloud:
O holy God, who didst form man from the dust, and didst fashion woman from his rib, and didst join her unto him as a helper, for it seemed good to Thy majesty that man should not be alone upon the earth: Do Thou, the same Lord, stretch out now also Thy hand from Thy holy dwelling place, and unite this Thy servant, Kevin, and this Thy handmaiden, Marie; for by Thee is the husband joined unto the wife. Unite them in one mind; wed them into one flesh, granting to them the fruit of the body and the procreation of fair children. For Thine is the majesty, and Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory: of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen

The priest takes the crowns, which recall those with which the “martyrs”, or witnesses of Christ, are crowned in heaven, and crowns them. 

Then he blesses them three times, saying each time: O Lord our God, crown them with glory and honor.

The Common Cup
This common cup is a symbol of the fact that after this they will share a common life with one another. This also recalls the miracle at the marriage feast of Cana in Galilee.

The Common Cup

The Dance of Isaiah
Then, taking the cup, the priest gives it to them three times; first to the bridegroom and then to the bride. Then immediately the priest takes them, the groomsmen behind them holding their crowns, and leads them in a circle three times around the lectern. And the priest or the choir sings:

Isaiah, Rejoice! For the virgin is with child; and shall bear a Son, Emmanuel. He is both God and man; and Orient is His name. Magnifying Him, we call the virgin blessed.
O holy martyrs, who fought the good fight and have received your crowns: Entreat ye the Lord, that He will have mercy on our souls.

Dance of Isaiah

Then, taking the crown of the bridegroom, the priest says:
Be exalted like Abraham, O Bridegroom, and be blessed like Isaac, and multiply like jacob, walking in peace, and keeping God’s commandments in righteousness.
Then, taking the crown of the bride, he says:
And you, O bride: Be exalted like Sarah, and exult like Rebecca, and multiply like Rachel, and rejoice in your husband, fulfilling the conditions of the law, for this is well-pleasing to God.

Then, giving the final blessing he says.

May the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the all-holy, consubstantial, and life-giving Trinity, one Godhead and one Kingdom, bless you; and grant you length of days, fair children, progress in life and faith; and fill you with all earthly good things, and make you worthy to enjoy the good things of the promise; through the prayers of the holy Theotokos and of all the saints. Amen.

Final Blessing

You may kiss the Bride

You may kiss the bride.

This information & pictures of the Orthodox ceremony comes from experiences from my own wedding with some information from
OrthodoxWorld.ru The Holy Sacraments -The Marriage Service”
ROCA.org Orthodox America – The Orthodox Christian Marriage”

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