“A great mystery is being celebrated. How is it a mystery? They come together, and the two are made one. They have not become the image of anything earthly, but of God Himself. They come in order to be made one body; behold the mystery of love!” (St. John Chrysostom, Homily 12 on Colossians)
Marriage is truly a “great mystery,” the mystery of the meeting of human love and divine love, the very sign and image of God’s presence with humanity. In the Old Testament, Israel was referred to as God’s “spouse,” while in the New Testament, the Church is referred to as the “bride” of Christ. These images attempt to convey in human categories what the Church Fathers refer to as the “frenzied love” of God for His people. Marriage is much more than a merely private transaction between two individuals; it is an event in which Jesus Christ Himself participates through the presence of the sacramental minister, the priest, and that of the praying community, the church. In view of this “ecclesial” dimension of marriage, therefore, a wedding must be performed within the context of the Orthodox Church in order for the Church to recognize and affirm the validity and authenticity of the marriage.
At least two meetings with the priest will be scheduled prior to the couple's wedding date to help them understand the depth of the meaning of Holy Matrimony, why it is blessed by our Lord, how they may honor their crowns of glory and how they may live in a manner pleasing to our Lord.
At the first such meeting, the Affidavit for the Metropolis License is filled out. The following items must be brought to this meeting:
- Each of your Baptismal Certificates (originals)
- A $100 check or money order made payable to the ‘Metropolis of Chicago’ with ‘Department of Registry’ in the memo section
- If born in any country other than the United States; AND entered the United States after your 15th birthday, a statement from the Diocese of your native land, signed by the Bishop, stating your freedom to marry
- If divorced, a copy of the Civil Divorce
- If previous marriage was in the Orthodox Church, the original, red-sealed document granting your Ecclesiastical Divorce
The Sponsor must submit a Letter of Eligibility signed by his/her local parish priest, verifying current stewardship and good standing in the Orthodox Faith. The Sponsor is to be chosen carefully. He/she is your intercessor and counselor before God. With your Sponsor rests the responsibility of interceding to God for you and upholding your Holy Union in every honorable way God intends.
Items necessary for the wedding day typically provided by the Sponsor
- Stephana (Crowns).
- Two white candles.
- If desired, a platter with white Jordan almonds (koupheta) are traditionally prepared for the wedding.
Items necessary for the wedding day provided by the couple
- Rings for both the bride and the groom.
- Civil marriage license.
Our Wedding Coordinator will assist you with any wedding rehearsal plans you may be making and with any questions pertaining to the wedding. The organist will select and play beautiful and appropriate Greek Orthodox Hymns.
- Non-Orthodox persons may act as ushers or bridesmaids at the Orthodox Marriage, but the Sponsor must be an Orthodox Christian, as stated earlier.
- An Orthodox Christian whose marriage has not been blessed by the Orthodox Church is no longer in good standing with the Orthodox Church and consequently is not eligible to participate in the sacraments of the Orthodox Church, including receiving Holy Communion, acting as a sponsor at an Orthodox wedding, baptism or chrismation (confirmation), or to receive an Orthodox funeral.
- A non-Orthodox Christian who marries an Orthodox Christian does not automatically become a member of the Orthodox Church, and is therefore not permitted to receive Holy Communion or the other Sacraments of the Orthodox Church nor an Orthodox funeral.
- The Orthodox wedding ceremony does not permit the active participation of non-Orthodox clergy, this being made explicit to all concerned. At the conclusion of the Orthodox ceremony, the guest clergyman, advised as to appropriate vesture and as agreed previously, will be properly acknowledged and may give his benediction and good wishes to the couple.
Photography & Video
To issue the proper dignity and solemnity of Holy Matrimony, pictures are to be limited. An official photographer is allowed to take pictures during the Sacrament, standing near the pulpit, without interfering with the service or interrupting the flow of the Sacrament. Camera lights may be used before and after the Sacrament ONLY. Camera lights may NOT be used in the duration of the Sacrament. Following the Sacrament, photographs permitted are that of the Bride and Groom, including Parents of the couple and the Wedding Party. The Church may not be used as a studio. All other family and couple photographs may be taken at the reception. A Video Camera may be used to videotape the entire Wedding Sacrament. The videographer may stand next to the official photographer, near the pulpit. The camera men must be situated at the designated area, inconspicuously. To prevent any misunderstandings, your official photographer and videographer must consult with the priest prior the commencement of the Sacrament. Family members and guests are NOT permitted to use a photographic or video camera during the Sacrament.
- At all times remember this is God’s Home; we are His guests.
- Modesty in dress is strongly encouraged.
- RICE & CANDY TOSSING IS PROHIBITED inside and outside the Church. Flower petals, in limited amounts, are permitted indoors. Flower petals, bubbles, and bird seed are permitted outdoors.
- Clapping is not permitted. Please refrain from clapping after the conclusion of the Sacrament.
- The Marriage Ceremony will NOT be conducted if:
- any alcoholic beverages are brought to the church premises, including drinking in your automobile and/or parking lot
- the bridal couple are not in a sober condition to receive the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony
- the members of the bridal party are not in a sober condition to honor the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony
Days when marriages are not permitted
- January 5 and 6
- Great Lent and Holy Week
- August 1 - 15
- August 29
- September 14
- December 13 - 25
- All Holy Days of our Lord (Despotikai Eortai: Christmas, Epiphany, Pascha, etc.)
- The eve of Christmas, Epiphany, or Pentecost.
- Parents with their own children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren.
- Brothers-in-law with sisters-in-law.
- Uncles and aunts with nieces and nephews.
- First & second 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 Godchildren.
The following regulations concerning interfaith marriages must be observed:
- The non-Orthodox Bride/Groom must be a Christian who has been baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity.
- The marriage must take place in the Orthodox Church according to the prescribed form of the Service Book, the Orthodox priest being the sole celebrant. Please see the Participants section above as to the appropriate participation of non-Orthodox clergy and others.
The Orthodox Church firmly believes in the sanctity of the marriage bond and is deeply concerned about each marriage and seeks to reconcile differences arising between husband and wife in the normal course of life. Please view the Church guidelines on divorce.
To schedule a wedding or request a Letter of Eligibility, please call the Church Office at (847) 827-5519.
| Print |
“What God has joined, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:6) The Orthodox Church firmly believes in the sanctity of the marriage bond. St. Paul refers to marriage as a “great mystery”, likening the relationship of husband and wife to that of Christ and the Church. Our Lord defended the sanctity of marriage, justifying divorce only on the grounds of unchastity. For this reason the Church is deeply concerned about each marriage and seeks to reconcile differences arising between husband and wife in the normal course of life.
The Church also realistically recognizes that some marriages may become completely unworkable, causing more damage than good, and thus does allow for divorce. Whenever serious difficulties arise threatening the dissolution of the marriage, the troubled couple should seek help from the Church first by contacting the priest rather than come to the Church when things are so bad that nothing can be done. Only when the marriage is seen by the Church to be completely unsalvageable is consideration given to divorce.
Although a civil decree of divorce legally dissolves a marriage in the eyes of the civil authorities, it does not dissolve a marriage in the eyes of the Church if the marriage was blessed in the Orthodox Church. The Church is under no obligation to grant a divorce just because a civil court granted a civil divorce.
In accordance with Church Canon Law, an Ecclesiastical Divorce is granted only under certain circumstances In accordance with the 21 November 1973 encyclical of His Eminence, Archbishop Iakovos, a divorce is given and considered valid, when:
- ... a marriage is entered into by force, blackmail or false reasons.
- ... one or both parties is guilty of adultery.
- ... one party is proven to be mad, insane or suffers from a social disease which was not disclosed to the spouse prior to the marriage.
- ... one party has conspired against the life of the spouse.
- ... one party is imprisoned for more than seven years.
- ... one party abandons the other for more than three years without approval.
- ... one partner should be absent from home without the other's approval, except in in stances when the latter is assured that such absence is due to psycho-neurotic illness.
- ... one partner forces the other to engage in illicit affairs with others.
- ... one partner does not fulfill the responsibilities of marriage, or when it is medically proven that one party is physically impotent or as the result of a social venereal disease.
- ... one partner is an addict, thereby creating undue economic hardship.
If such grounds exist, after one year of the issuance of the civil decree of divorce, a petition may be filed with the priest for the ecclesiastical dissolution of the marriage. At that time, the petitioner, who must be current with his/her Stewardship Pledge, must submit all of the following:
- The Church Marriage Certificate
- A certified copy of the civil decree of divorce
- A signed petition to the Ecclesiastical Court stating the grounds of divorce
- A money order or cashier check in the amount of $200 made out to the “Metropolis of Chicago” for the processing of the Ecclesiastical Divorce.
The four items, along with the priest’s report as to the results of his efforts to reconcile the couple, are then submitted to the Metropolitan. The Metropolitan reviews the file, and if there are grounds for an Ecclesiastical Divorce a date is set for the Ecclesiastical Court to be held. If the Ecclesiastical Court finds sufficient grounds for divorce, the Metropolitan will issue the official decree.
For more information concerning Ecclesiastical Divorce, you should schedule a time with the priest.