What is usually done at an Orthodox wedding? How do the events of this big day unfold? Does this ritual have some kind of symbolism? Are there Orthodox churches in Spain? Where can I have the reception afterwards?
If you don’t have all of the answers to these doubts, in this article we will give them to you. Below we will tell you about this culture in detail and about everything that is done in this type of wedding so that you too can carry out your Orthodox wedding.
First of all, you should know that an Orthodox ceremony is similar to a Catholic one, since it is based on the same foundations: fidelity, dedication, community life and educating children in the faith, although it is true that there are some differences, such as the rituals carried out by the couple or the priest.
So, without further ado, we will begin to tell you everything you need to know before celebrating an Orthodox wedding or before going to one.
But first, when is an Orthodox wedding allowed?
Carrying out an Orthodox marriage is allowed as long as at least one member of the couple is Orthodox and has his or her baptismal certificate on hand.
On many occasions, one of the members of the couple who doesn’t share this belief, after having an Orthodox wedding, converts to this religion.
In any case, it will always be the bishop who has to accept the union of this couple and give his consent for the celebration of the wedding.
How does the Orthodox ceremony unfold?
The ceremony is divided into two spaces:
In the first space is the couple, together with the best man, the maid of honour and the priest, the place where the rings are put on, where the ceremony takes place and where the guests wait standing in the centre of the church (in Orthodox churches there are no seats).
In the second space is where there is a table with what is necessary for the ritual, where the candles are delivered to the best man and the maid of honour and where the priest intertwines the hands of the bride and groom with a white cloak. Also gold crowns are placed in this place.
Don’t panic! Because we will explain all of this to you below.
But first, you have to wait for the bride
The entrance to the church of the bride and groom at an Orthodox wedding is carried out a little differently from Catholic weddings.
In this case, the bride and groom enter the church together, although accompanied by their best man and maid of honour as well. The bride and groom stand in front while their best man and maid of honour stand behind them and, each carrying two candles, they all walk to the altar together.
In more traditional ceremonies, the guests stay outside waiting for the bride, groom, the best man and the maid of honour to enter the church together, and after the guests begin to enter the church.
The lighting of the candles is here!
Each member of the couple is offered a white candle, which they must hold for the duration of the ceremony.
The symbolism of the lighting of the candles is that this represents the faith and the will of the couple to follow the Light of Truth and Jesus Christ. Furthermore, it means that they will have a married life enlightened by the doctrines of the Church.
Time for the crowning
No, it is not a mere decoration. Placing the crowns on the couple symbolises the couple’s marriage as a blessing from God. In an Orthodox wedding the priest places the crown on the both the bride and the groom.
Two crowns tied with a ribbon are used to unite the two souls and thus demonstrate that the couple is ready to establish their own kingdom as heads fo a new family.
The priest, taking the crowns, blesses the bride and groom in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, standing behind the bride and groom and exchanging the crowns three times.
The crowns are usually made of gold or silver in the Russian tradition and they are made of leaves and flowers in the Greek tradition.
Now, the marriage readings and sips of wine
As in weddings throughout history, Orthodox weddings have a reading of the story of Jesus’ first miracle at the wedding in Galilee.To honour Jesus by turning water into wine.
That is why, after this, when the priest removes the crowns, the bride and groom drink three sips of the same glass of wine, which has been blessed by the priest and which symbolises that from that moment on they will share everything in their lives.
It’s time to exchange rings
After blessing them, the priest takes the rings in his right hand, making the sign of the cross on the heads of the bride and groom.
The rings are then placed on the right hand of the bride and groom because it is the right hand of God that blesses, and it is a gold ring on the groom’s finger and a silver ring on the bride’s finger, which are exchanged by the best man three times.
After that, the hands of the bride and groom are joined by the priest and they remain that way until the end of the ceremony, thus symbolising the eternal union of the couple and the blessing of Christ who crowns them as king and queen of his home.
The Dance of Isaiah’s dance and the hymns occur
When the couple are almost officially married, the priest leads them to perform a dance, which consists of a dance around the wedding altar called “Dance of Isaiah”, which takes place while the hymns are sung.
At this time the priest, holding the Gospel and the clasped hands of the bride and groom, also followed by the best man, who holds the crowns of the newlyweds on their heads, and the bridesmaids, who hold the lit white candles dance around the table three times.
Each time is accompanied by one of the three hymns that the Church has used since ancient times to emphasise God’s blessings. At each trip around the table, the couple also kisses the cross held by the priest.
Circling around the altar is also a symbol of infinity and eternity for the couple.
And, how does an Orthodox wedding end?
To end the ceremony, the priest asks the couple a series of questions in Serbian. Although it is worth noting a question that is not in Catholic ceremonies, that the bride is asked which is if she is engaged to another man.
Next, the marriage certificates are signed in addition to an agreement where the bride accepts that the children will be baptised in the Orthodox religion.
Then the four (the bride, groom, best man and maid of honour) stand on a step and the guests congratulate each of them with three kisses on the cheek.
Finally, rice is thrown on the couple when they leave the church, whose symbolism is to wish fertility and wealth to the family.
Orthodox churches in Spain: get to know the best ones
In Spain we can find a number of Orthodox churches distributed throughout the territory, but, without a doubt, we are left with the two main temples, the one in Madrid and the one in Altea (Alicante). Both churches depend on the Moscow Patriarchate and are the most beautiful to celebrate your Orthodox wedding.
Orthodox churches in the Valencian Community:
El Templo del Arcángel Miguel, Altea
This was the first temple of the Russian Orthodox Church built in Spain, it is located in the Altea Hills urbanisation and is a replica of a characteristic Russian Orthodox church from 17th century. It is made with materials brought from the Urals region, such as wood, and even the masons who built it were from the Urals region!
Orthodox churches in Madrid:
Iglesia ortodoxa de la Magdalena, Madrid
On Gran Vía de Hortaleza, this Byzantine style church occupies more than 600m² and is 24.75 metres high. Its temple doesn’t have benches, like all Orthodox ones, so the guests remain standing for the duration of the ceremony under some huge and beautiful hanging lamps!
Orthodox churches in Castilla La Mancha:
Iglesia ortodoxa Rumana Juan Casiano
Located on 4 Calle Nuevo Alamin, in a place that was until recently the Catholic parish of the Virgen de la Salud, now is the Church of Juan Casiano, since the diocese of Sigüenza-Guadalajara handed over the premises to the Orthodox Romanians who had been having their celebrations, for years, in a room at Casa Nazaret. It is most charming!
Iglesia Ortodoxa Rumana “Sf Ciprian și Sfa Fecioara Iustina”
The Romanian Orthodox Church is the only one in the east that uses a Romance language, this one, in particular, is located on 18 Calle Azucena, in the town of Azuqueca de Henares, belonging to the municipality of Castilla La Mancha. This place of worship was built thanks to the large number of worshipers in the region. Will you pay it a visit?
Orthodox churches in Palma de Mallorca:
Parroquia Ortodoxa De San Miguel Arcángel
In Plaza Jorge Luis Borges you will find this parish belonging to the Patriarchate of Serbia, it is an Eastern Orthodox Church that was built in the 14th century, thus becoming one of the most important Gothic style churches. It consists of a single nave with side chapels and a square bell tower. We love it!
Parroquia Ortodoxa de La Natividad del Señor
This is one of the Mallorcan Baroque jewels from the 17th century, previously called Santa Catalina de Siena, since it was a Catholic temple, but in 2002 it became an Orthodox parish. Archimandrite Makariy transformed the Catholic temple into an Orthodox Church by placing in front of the altar the iconostasis and the holy doors, as well as completely sealed relics, lecterns with icons and the light.
Parroquia Ortodoxa San Lucas Evangelista
The Romanian Orthodox parish San Lucas Evangelista in Palma de Mallorca was founded in 2006. This parish arose in response to the desire of Orthodox Romanians living on the island of Mallorca to practice their religion, as well as to marry through this ritual. It is a very large space; it is centrally located and has easy access.
Orthodox churches in Tenerife:
Iglesia Ortodoxa de la Presentación del Señor
It is the first temple of the Orthodox Church of the Canary Islands and it was built in the municipality of Adeje, specifically on Avenida de El Jable, in the enclave of Callao Salvaje. It has a large representation of the Orthodox Church and other religious confessions, as well as representatives of local and Russian institutions.
Parroquia Ortodoxa Sretensky
With a beautiful architectural style, this temple that is based on the Byzantine style has five domes in the shape of a cross. This parish is designed for 350 parishioners as it has an area of 2,250m². The land is located in sector 8 of the San Sebastián (Adeje) area.
Orthodox churches in the Basque Country:
Parroquia Ortodoxa San Mateo Apóstol
In total, of the 5,000 Romanians registered in the Basque Country, 3,500 profess the Orthodox faith. In the Basque Country, the Romanian Orthodox Church has two temples, one in Bilbao and one in Vitoria, but we find ourselves in love with that of San Mateo, which is located on 3 Travesía de Sagarminaga, Basarrate. It’s worth it!
Orthodox churches in the Andalusia:
Templo de la Ascensión de la Iglesia Ortodoxa Rusa
The first Orthodox Christian church in Andalusia opened in Estepona, and this temple has a nine-metre high bell tower and a cultural centre. The space is built following the Byzantine architectural style mixed with Mediterranean influences, so that the entire temple is integrated into the environment and the existing topography.
After your Orthodox wedding…a high-end reception!
Perfect Venue has many venues in all regions of Spain, so you can choose and travel with all your guests and continue the celebration in one of the best venues, savouring the most succulent delicacies.
Check out all of these!
Are you a guest and want to know more about the traditions of each wedding? Don’t miss these posts where we talk about the different cultures and traditions that exist in all types of religions.
Come to Perfect Venue Manager and tell us which region of Spain you are choosing to celebrate your Orthodox wedding. We will find the perfect church for you and the best place for your big reception!