Eastern Orthodox Wedding Vows

Helpful information for couples planning a highly symbolic and traditional Eastern Orthodox wedding.

Eastern Orthodox weddings are beautiful and symbolic ceremonies, filled with the rich tradition and scripture of centuries of practice. While the exchanging of vows between the bride and groom is not a part of this service, the rituals which celebrate this type of union are deeply meaningful to watch and reflect a special connection to married life. Finding accurate and detailed information on the ceremony is of the utmost importance as you make your plans. Speaking directly with the priest who will be leading your ceremony is by far the best way to truly understand the deep meaning and sacred tradition which make up an Eastern Orthodox wedding ceremony.

Couples who are planning an Eastern Orthodox wedding are participating in an ancient tradition, with rituals and readings which have changed little over the past centuries. Rich in symbolism, this type of wedding leans heavily on the priest to guide the ancient rites and lead the bride and groom through the symbolic steps. The service contains two parts, the Service of the Betrothal and The Ceremony of the Sacrament of Marriage.

The Service of Betrothal

The Service of the Betrothal focuses on the rings. Many of the rituals which take place during this part of the ceremony are repeated three times to signify the connection with the holy trinity. Much of the information available on the Internet can be a bit contradictory on the meaning and origins of this part of the ceremony. The actual rituals are described and a religious meaning is explained for couples to gain a deeper understanding of the Eastern Orthodox wedding ceremony.

The Ceremony of the Sacrament of Marriage

The second part of the service consists of the ceremony of The Sacrament of Marriage. The bride and groom's right hands are joined during this part of the service and will not be separated until the conclusion of the service. Many holy rituals are performed during this part of the ceremony, including the beautiful crowning and the highly symbolic Ceremonial walk.

Eastern Orthodox Wedding Vows

There is no exchange of vows between a bride and groom in the Eastern Orthodox wedding ceremony. A bride and groom are not married by a priest, but considered married by God and therefore, wedding vows between the bridal couple are not part of the service. An Eastern Orthodox wedding is a religious covenant and not a legal one, so any type of personal vow between a bride and groom would be unnecessary. Personal vows such as those written by the couple are generally not included.

Eastern Orthodox Wedding Resources

When considering this type of ceremony, the best place to get any reliable information is a priest in the church. The traditions and rituals of this type of wedding have their beginnings in the centuries-old beliefs of the congregation and clergy and few people or resources outside the church can give reliable information. While the basic order of the ceremony can be found, the profound meanings behind these elements is best left to those who have devoted their lives to understanding them. A meeting with an Eastern Orthodox priest will answer any questions you have about your wedding ceremony and the information you receive will be both accurate and reliable.


Written by: Caroline Retzer