Crowning of Andrew and Sophia

God grant you Many Years Andrew and Sophia!

In the Orthodox Church, Marriage, as a Sacrament, is both a mystery and a martyrdom, not a legal contract. The Orthodox wedding ceremony has two parts: Betrothal and Crowning. The Betrothal is an agreement or promise to marry, which is symbolized by the exchange of rings, vows are not said. In ancient times it was a separate service. Today it directly precedes the Crowning in the Marriage ceremony. The rubric books (service instructions) say that the exchange of rings is to take place in the Narthex.  The priest will stand before the couple and bless them in the sign of the cross with their wedding rings. Beginning with the groom and then the bride, he will prayerfully intone the following statement: “The servant of God ______, is betrothed to the servant of God ______, in the name of the Father, Son and holy Spirit.” This will be done three times. Once this step is complete, the priest will begin with the bride, prayerfully repeating the same pattern. 

After the betrothal the priest leads the couple in procession into the Nave while chanting Psalm 128:

"Blessed are they who walk in the way of the Lord."

This begins the actual Sacrament of Marriage (Crowning). The crown is a sign of the glory and honor that God bestows on the couple. This is a blessing and confirmation by God of an earthly pledge, not a verification of a legal agreement.

After the couple’s hands are joined together, the priest will bless their wedding crowns, and recite the following statement three separate times in front of the couple: “The servant of God _____ is crowned for the servant of God ______, in the name of the Father, and the Son and the holy Spirit.” Upon completion, he will reverse the process, beginning with the bride while repeating the same words. The priest will then place the crowns on both partner’s heads, and chants a verse from Psalm 8, “O, Lord our God, crown them with glory and honor.” The sponsor will then exchange the crowns three times, and place them back on each partner’s head. This is an ancient ritual, perhaps reaching back to the 2nd or 3rd century.