The Sacraments of Marriage
Dear Bride and Groom,
Congratulations on your engagement. You are now embarking on a new chapter in your lives. We hope that this brochure will help make your Sacrament of Marriage at Saint Spyridon flow smoothly.
Saint Spyridon Guidelines
One of the betrothed must be an Orthodox Christian in good standing with your Orthodox Parish and must have met your financial obligations to your Parish before we will confirm the date of the Sacrament. You must obtain a letter from your Parish Priest to confirm your membership status if you are not a member of St. Spyridon.
- If you are a member of another Orthodox Parish outside the Metropolis of Boston, you are required to provide proof that you are not married. If you came from another country after the age of 16, we require proof that you are not married and a baptismal certificate.
- You must arrange a private meeting with the Cathedral Priest to apply for an ecclesiastic license. At this time Baptismal papers and certificate of single status must be presented. Also, there is a $100 fee which must be forwarded to the Diocese of Boston with the license application.
- You must attend pre-marriage couseling class with the Cathedral Dean.
- For members there is no fee contribution to St. Spyridon, nonmembers is $250.
- It is prohibited to use a runner in the center aisle.
- No decorations, flowers or any other materials shall be affixed to the outside front door or wall of our church and no awning or canopy shall be erected on the church stairs unless it is free standing.
- The church premises will be available to you and your guests for one hour following the sacrament.
- Photographs and video may be taken during the ceremony but with decorum and discretion. Photographers are not allowed to photograph from anywhere on or in the Altar area, nor on the Bishop's Throne.
- If you intent to invite the Priest to your wedding reception, it is proper for you to send him an invitation, and he will attend if his schedule permits.
- There may be another sacrament following yours, please be on time to avoid complications.
- Please make arrangements to have your tray and other items picked up from the Cathedral within one week of your sacrament.
These are tasks you must complete for your ceremony.
- Choose a sponsor (koumbaro) see previous description of appropriate sponsor
- Arrange date of Sacrament
- Supply letter of good standing from your Parish Priest if you are not a member of St. Spyridon.
- Make sure your stewardship is paid (suggested donation: $350 per/steward).
- Attend a private meeting with the Cathedral Dean.
- Attend pre-marriage counseling.
- Call the organist to arrange music and rehearsal, Bill Pappazisis (508) 870-0903. Rehearsals are performed on weekends only.
- Don't forget to get your blood test and civil license.
It is a great honor to be asked to be a sponsor for a couple. With this honor comes responsibility. We have outlined your responsibilities as a sponsor.
- You must provide a current certificate of membership proving him or her to be an Orthodox Christian in good standing with the Church. A person who does not belong to a parish, or who belongs to a parish under the jurisdiction of a bishop who is not in communion with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, or who, if married, has not had his or her marriage blessed by the Orthodox Church, or, if divorced, has not received an ecclesiastical divorce, cannot be a sponsor.
- If you are married, your mariage must have taken place in the Orthodox Church.
- The Sponsor provides the couple with the following.
- Koufeta and tray (for rings)
- It is customary that the Sponsor offer a gratuity to the Officiating Clergyman (Ieris), Chanter (Psaltis) and Sexton (Kandilonaftis).
For the union of a man and woman to be recognized as sacramentally valid by the Orthodox Church, the following conditions must be met:
- The Sacrament of Matrimony must be celebrated by an Orthodox Priest of a canonical Orthodox jurisdiction, according to the liturgical tradition of the Orthodox Church, in a canonical Orthodox Church, and with the authorization of the diocesan Bishop.
- Before requesting permission from his Bishop to perform the marriage, the Priest must verify that:
- neither of the parties in question are already married to other persons, either in this country or elsewhere;
- the parties in question are not related to each other to a degree that would constitute an impediment;
- if either or both parties are widowed, they have presented the death certificate(s) of the deceased spouse(s);
- if either or both of the parties have been previously married in the Orthodox Church, they have obtained ecclesiastical as well as civil divorce(s);
- the party or parties who are members of a parish other than the one in which the marriage is to be performed have provided a certificate declaring them to be members in good standing with that parish for the current year; and
- a civil marriage license has been obtained from civil authorities.
No person may marry more than three times in the Church, with permission for a third marriage granted only with extreme oikonomia.
- In cases involving the marriage of Orthodox and non-Orthodox Christians, the latter must have been baptized, in water, in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Church cannot bless the marriage of an Orthodox Christian to a non-Christian.
- The Sponsor (koumbaros or koumbara) must provide a current certificate of membership proving him or her to be an Orthodox Christian in good standing with the Church. A person who does not belong to a parish, or who belongs to a parish under the jurisdiction of a bishop who is not in communion with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, or who, if married, has not had his or her marriage blessed by the Orthodox Church, or, if divorced, has not received an ecclesiastical divorce, cannot be a sponsor. Non-Orthodox persons may be members of the wedding party, but may not exchange the rings or crowns.
Days When Marriage Is Not Permitted
Marriages are not performed on fast days or during fasting seasons; these include the Great Lent and Holy Week, August 1-15, August 29 (Beheading of St. John the Baptist), September 14 (Exaltation of the Holy Cross), and December 13-25. Nor are marriages celebrated on the day before and the day of a Great Feast of the Lord, including Theophany (January 5 and 6), Pascha, Pentecost, and Christmas (December 24 and 25). Marriages may be performed on these days only by permission of the diocesan Bishop.
It is a fact that, the more a couple has in common, the more likely they are to live together in peace and concord. Shared faith and traditions spare couples and their children, as well as their extended families, many serious problems, and help to strengthen the bonds between them. Even so, the Orthodox Church will bless marriages between Orthodox and non-Orthodox partners, provided that:
The non-Orthodox partner is a Christian who has been baptized, in water, in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; and
The couple should be willing to baptize their children in the Orthodox Church and raise and nurture them in accordance with the Orthodox Faith.
A baptized Orthodox Christian whose wedding has not been blessed by the Orthodox Church is no longer in good standing with the Church, and may not receive the Sacraments of the Church, including Holy Communion, or become a Sponsor of an Orthodox Marriage, Baptism or Chrismation. A non-Orthodox Christian who marries an Orthodox Christian does not thereby become a member of the Orthodox Church, and may not receive the Sacraments, including Holy Communion, or be buried by the Church, serve on the Parish Council, or vote in parish assemblies or elections. To participate in the Church's life, one must be received into the Church by the Sacrament of Baptism or, in the case of persons baptized with water in the Holy Trinity, following a period of instruction, by Chrismation.
Canonical and theological reasons preclude the Orthodox Church from performing the Sacrament of Marriage for couples where one partner is Orthodox and the other partner is a non-Christian. As such, Orthodox Christians choosing to enter such marriages fall out of good standing with their Church and are unable to actively participate in the life of the Church. While this stance may seem confusing and rigid, it is guided by the Orthodox Church's love and concern for its member's religious and spiritual well-being.
The following types of relationships constitute impediments to marriage:
- Parents with their own children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren, or godchildren of the same godparents.
- Brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law.
- Uncles and aunts with nieces and nephews.
- First cousins with each other.
- Foster parents with foster children or foster children with the children of foster parents.
- Godparents with godchildren or godparents with the parents of their godchildren.
The parish priest must exert every effort to reconcile the couple and avert a divorce. However, should he fail to bring about a reconciliation, after a civil divorce has been obtained, he will transmit the petition of the party seeking the ecclesiastical divorce, together with the decree of the civil divorce, to the Spiritual Court of the Diocese. The petition must include the names and surnames of the husband and wife, the wife's surname prior to marriage, their addresses, the name of the priest who performed the wedding, and the date and place of the wedding. The petitioner must be a member in good standing with the parish through which he or she is petitioning for divorce. Orthodox Christians of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese who have obtained a civil divorce but not an ecclesiastical divorce may not participate in any sacraments of the Church or serve on the Parish Council, Diocesan Council or Archdiocesan Council until they have been granted a divorce by the Church.