Post # 1
It has been a very stressful day in the wedding planning process! I have to start off by saying that both my FI and myself are planning to join the Orthodox Church (OCA, in case you want to know) and will definitely have an Orthodox wedding.
The problem is that everything is sooo different! Growing up Protestant, I’ve dreamed of wedding marches and exchanging vows and not seeing each other before the wedding and a whole host of other things. Now some people may say that an Orthodox wedding is not that much different from a Protestant one, and is a heck of a lot more meaningful, and I can agree on the meaningfullness, but in all the ways that matter to me personally, it’s very, very different than my dreams.
Today I found out that not only would it be very unlikely to have the Saturday afternoon wedding we wanted (apparently Sunday weddings are where its at!), we’re going to probably have to have people little more than strangers perform the roles of best man/matron of honor (our sponsors). I know that sounds dramatic, but both FI and I are shy and don’t really have enough attachments in our church family. We wanted my aunt to be our sponsor because we’re both comfortable with that…. and I think that having someone stand up for you at your wedding is a pretty big deal.
And then, talking to my aunt, I’m like, do people usually go to Sunday morning services before their afternoon marriage? And she was like, of course! But what about not seeing your FI before the ceremony? Getting ready for it? Finishing all the last minute details? (And ours is pretty much entirely DIY, we don’t have the budget to hire people, so there are going to be last minute details!)
I’m just a bit overwhelmed by the total….departure?… from my dearly cherished dreams. Are there any other Orthodox converts out there dealing with this?
Post # 3
I am not an Orthodox convert, but I was in an Orthodox wedding last year. It was VERY different than any other wedding I’d been to. I’m sorry that you are dealing with the what seems like the crushing of your dreams. Hopefully with some time and discussion with your priest you will be happy with your wedding day.
Since I’m marrying a Haitian my wedding is going to include elements that are different than anything I ever imagined, but they are minor things. Like the wedding party will sit instead of stand. The cermony will be in two languages. There will be no unity candle. Beyond that pretty much everything else is the same.
Post # 4
@fearlessvalkyrie: I grew up in the Orthodox church and I know that it is overwhelming even growing up in it. I was extremely frustrated with only being able to have a sunday wedding, and even then you’re restricted as to what times of the year you can do it too (ex. can’t get married during lent). However due to forces beyond our control we we’re forced to have our wedding on a Sat and the priest was willing to allow it and help us out. It also helps that the priest officiating our wedding is my uncle along with my home priest who I grew up with. (we will have 4 priests at our wedding for the ceremony all together). I think that we will be expected to attend church the next Sunday morning though. My fiance is Catholic and I think that he is very overwhelmed with the new customs that he’s not used to, and the length of the service. Also, we were told that one of our bridal attendants, either the maid of honor or the best man has to be orthodox, so instead we have 2 maid of honors and 2 best men to keep everything easy (there’s no rule saying you can’t, plus we have a large bridal party to begin with) Maybe you can do that so that you can still have you’re original maid of honor and best man also involved?
The traditions in the Orthodox ceremony are what makes it so special and meaningful and I hope that your priest is willing to work with your fiance and you in order to make your wedding day as stress free and beautiful as you deserve it to be.
Side note: Both my cousins recently got married in the Orthodox Church (we are OCA also) and they both had their weddings on a Sunday and neither of them went to church the morning of. Sometimes it’s too hectic and you can’t, but a prayer in the morning and your heart in the right place is all you need. Also if you need to have the wedding on a Sun, it’s easier to do it on a holiday weekend because then most people have off from work or school the Mon after. Hope this helps!
Post # 5
As a cradle-born Orthodox Christian (OCA) I can imagine that it would be very difficult to grow up dreaming of a ‘here comes the bride’ fluffy white wedding where daddy walks you down the aisle, and then be expected to shift those dreams to conform to 2,000 year old Orthodox wedding traditions, which are quite different:
There is no giving away of the bride (she gives herself away!), there is not an exchange of vows and an “I do”. Instead there are candles and crowns and a common cup of wine, and beautiful hymns and prayers blessing the couple’s love. An Orthodox wedding ceremony is deeper and more symbolic than any other wedding service you will ever attend in your life, and in many ways a lot better than the American Dream Wedding that is brainwashed into young women by the bridal industry.
I hope that seeing it from that perspective will help some converts put aside the wedding dreams they have had from a very young age.
P.S. Non-Orthodox or Newly-Orthodox people getting married in the church are sometimes surprised by all of the strict rules that there are to follow. Restrictions about the wedding date, no choice of the songs that will be sung, specific rules that there must be an Orthodox best man or woman to represent the couple during the wedding, etc. All of these things can be daunting, but be forewarned that the church does not bend on these things and so the couple must compromise. Although there are a lot of restrictions about the time of year you can get married, it is not true that weddings can only happen on Sundays in the Orthodox Church. That is a ‘new’ tradition (past 10 years maybe) that a lot of younger priests try to enforce because it is the ‘holy’ thing to do, but you can get married any day of the week just like you can have other church services any day of the week. For couples who do get married on a Sunday, it is expected that the couple will attend Divine Liturgy together that morning and receive Communion. We do not have the cultural superstition that it is bad luck to see your fiancé before the wedding itself.
Post # 6
My FI is GO and I was just chrismated and confirmed last week.
I’ve never heard of a priest forcing a wedding on a Sunday. My wedding is definitely on a Saturday. Yes, the koumbari has to be Greek Orthodox – but you can technically choose anyone you want (as long as they are Greek Orthodox and in “good standing” with the church).
My dad is walking me down the aisle as well.
Post # 7
Seconding what @abby382 said. I’m Greek Orthodox and every wedding I’ve ever attended in my life was on a Saturday. Also, the wedding party does not have to be Orthodox, only the koumbara/koumbaro (you only need one). Traditionally they are not supposed to be family members, but there is no explicit rule against it. My sister and her husband had our first cousin as koumbaro. Assuming your aunt is Orthodox there should be no reason she can’t be yours.