Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church
Grand Junction, Colorado

Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople (AD 73)
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (AD 1922)
Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Denver (AD 1979)

METROPOLIS OF DENVER
Introduction Canonical Considerations Archdiocese Guidelines Metropolis Guidelines
Home Page
Return to
Sacraments Page
Introduction
Canonical and
Administrative
Considerations
Greek Orthodox
Archdiocese
of America
Pastoral
Guidelines
for Weddings
Greek Orthodox
Metropolis
of Denver
Administrative
Guidelines
for the
Mysterυ of
Marriage
The Mystery (Sacrament) of Holy Matrimony (Marriage)

Introduction

Marriage in the Orthodox Church is a Sacramental union exclusively between a man and a woman.

Marriage is the normal estate of Orthodox Christians, and it is the milieu in which human beings work out their salvation. Indeed, the very purpose of Marriage is salvation, for through Marriage we learn how to be in relationship with God.

We are exactly “like” God, for we are created in His image, and yet we are completely “different” from God, inasmuch as He is uncreated and we are created. Likewise, a man and a woman are exactly like one another, for both are human beings, and yet a man and a woman are completely different from each other, because one is male and the other is female.

A man and a woman may contract a civil marriage, but this does not ontologically change them from two individuals into the new creation which occurs only and exclusively within the Mystery (Sacrament) of Holy Matrimony (Marriage). Just as in the Eucharist where bread and wine are changed by consecration into the Body and Blood of Christ, as well as in Holy Unction where olive oil is changed through its consecration, so also in Marriage a man and a woman are changed through the consecration of their union by the Holy Spirit through an Orthodox Priest.

For this reason, if an Orthodox man and woman have sexual relations prior to their Sacramental union in Holy Matrimony, they commit the grave sin of fornication*. Likewise, if a married person has sexual relations with someone other than their spouse, they commit the extremely grave sin of adultery*.

*“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

These sins exclude an Orthodox Christian from being in “good standing” with the Church click here for more information. Thus, they cannot receive Holy Communion, be married in the Church, or be a sponsor (godparent) at a Baptism or Marriage. Of course, as with any sin, these must be confessed so that our good and merciful God may grant His forgiveness, remission, and absolution. It is through Confession that one is restored to good standing with the Church.

Regrettably, we are living in a society where “living together” (frankly, “shacking up”) before Marriage is commonplace. Yet this has always been known as the sin of fornication. When a couple who are “living together” meet with their parish priest to prepare for Marriage in the Orthodox Church, they can expect the Priest to admonish them to separate until after the Marriage. Likewise if the couple is having sexual relations, they can expect the Priest to admonish them to abstain until after their Marriage.

A couple planning to marry in the Orthodox Church must meet with their parish priest as soon after their engagement as possible. No arrangements, and certainly no date, can be established until the couple have met with the priest. The parish priest and/or the parish church may or may not be available on certain dates the couple are considering.

Note that the Orthodox Mystery (Sacrament) of Marriage is celebrated in an Orthodox church, and not at a secular location. Orthodox priests are only allowed to celebrate Marriages in an Orthodox church.

Sadly, not understanding the beauty and meaning of the Orthodox Sacrament of Marriage, some couples view the priest as merely an officiant at their wedding and relegate meeting with him until after other arrangements are made.

The Marriage Sponsor

A couple being Married has a “sponsor,” or “godparent.” The sponsor assumes the great responsibility for walking along the spiritual path with the couple, exemplifying the faith and helping them in every way in the faith. For this reason, the sponsor must be a member in “good standing” of the Orthodox Church (for further information click here).

Items Typically brought to the Parish Church for the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony

Certain practical items are necessary for the Sacrament of Marriage. In all instances, the couple and their sponsor must speak with the parish priest – in advance – to determine what may be required.

In general, the following items are typically brought to the church for the Marriage ceremony:

  1. 1. Two candles; these may be simple beeswax candles or ones specially decorated for the occasion.
  2. 2. Wedding rings, one for the groom and one for the bride.
  3. 3. Wedding crowns.

Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
Pastoral Guidelines for Weddings

For the union of a man and woman to be recognized as sacramentally valid by the Orthodox Church, the following conditions must be met:

  1. 1. The Sacrament of Matrimony must be celebrated by an Orthodox Priest of a canonical Orthodox jurisdiction (for further information click here), according to the liturgical tradition of the Orthodox Church, in a canonical Orthodox Church* (again, click here), and with the authorization of the Archbishop or Metropolitan.
    1. * In other words, in a church building, not in a secular location.
  2. 2. Before requesting permission from the Archbishop or his Metropolitan to perform the marriage, a Priest must verify that:
    1. a) neither of the parties in question is already married to another person, either in this country or elsewhere;
    2. b) the parties in question are not related to each other to a degree that would constitute an impediment;
    3. c) if either or both parties are widowed, they have presented the death certificate(s) of the deceased spouse(s);
    4. d) if either or both of the parties have been previously married in the Orthodox Church, they have obtained ecclesiastical as well as civil divorce(s);
    5. e) the party or parties who are members of a parish other than the one in which the marriage is to be performed have provided a certificate declaring them to be members in good standing with that parish for the current year; and
    6. f) a civil marriage license has been obtained from civil authorities.
  3. 3. No person may marry more than three times in the Church, with permission for a third marriage granted only with extreme oikonomia.
  4. 4. In cases involving the marriage of Orthodox and non-Orthodox Christians, the latter must have been baptized, in water, in the “Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” The Church cannot bless the marriage of an Orthodox Christian to a non-Christian.
  5. 5. The Sponsor (koumbaros or koumbara) must provide a current certificate of membership proving him or her to be an Orthodox Christian in good standing with the Church. A person who does not belong to a parish, or who belongs to a parish under the jurisdiction of a bishop who is not in communion with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, or who, if married, has not had his or her marriage blessed by the Orthodox Church, or, if divorced, has not received an ecclesiastical divorce, cannot be a sponsor. Non-Orthodox persons may be members of the wedding party, but may not exchange the rings or crowns.

Days When Marriage Is Not Permitted

Marriages are not performed on fast days or during fasting seasons or on the feasts of the Church, specifically:

  1. September 14 (Exaltation of the Holy Cross),
  2. December 13-25 (Nativity),
  3. January 5 and 6 (Theophany),
  4. Great Lent and Holy Week, Pascha (Easter),
  5. Pentecost,
  6. August 1-15 (Dormition Fast and Feast), and
  7. August 29 (Beheading of St. John the Baptist).

Exceptions can only be made with the permission of the respective hierarch.

Inter-Christian Marriages

It is a fact that, the more a couple has in common, the more likely they are to live together in peace and concord. Shared faith and traditions spare couples and their children, as well as their extended families, many serious problems, and help to strengthen the bonds between them. Even so, the Orthodox Church will bless marriages between Orthodox and non-Orthodox partners, provided that:

  1. 1. The non-Orthodox partner is a Christian who has been baptized, in water, in the “Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”; and
  2. 2. The couple should be willing to baptize their children in the Orthodox Church and raise and nurture them in accordance with the Orthodox Faith.

A baptized Orthodox Christian whose wedding has not been blessed by the Orthodox Church is no longer in good standing with the Church, and may not receive the Sacraments of the Church, including Holy Communion, or become a Sponsor of an Orthodox Marriage, Baptism or Chrismation.

A non-Orthodox Christian who marries an Orthodox Christian does not thereby become a member of the Orthodox Church, and may not receive the Sacraments, including Holy Communion, or be buried by the Church, serve on the Parish Council, or vote in parish assemblies or elections. To participate in the Church’s life, one must be received into the Church by the Sacrament of Baptism or, in the case of persons baptized with water in the Holy Trinity, following a period of instruction, by Chrismation.

Inter-religious Marriages

Canonical and theological reasons preclude the Orthodox Church from performing the Sacrament of Marriage for couples where one partner is Orthodox and the other partner is a non-Christian. As such, Orthodox Christians choosing to enter such marriages fall out of good standing with their Church and are unable to actively participate in the life of the Church. While this stance may seem confusing and rigid, it is guided by the Orthodox Church’s love and concern for its member’s religious and spiritual well-being.

Prohibited Marriages

The following types of relationships constitute impediments to marriage:

  1. 1. Parents with their own children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren.
  2. 2. Brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law.
  3. 3. Uncles and aunts with nieces and nephews.
  4. 4. First cousins with each other.
  5. 5. Foster parents with foster children or foster children with the children of foster parents.
  6. 6. Godparents with godchildren or godparents with the parents of their godchildren.

Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Denver
Administrative Guidelines for the Mystery of Marriage

TOPIC INDEX

Introduction, Click here.

I. Authority, Click here.

II. General, Click here.

III. Consanguinity Impediments (Prohibited Marriage Groups), Click here.

IV. Second and Third Marriages, Click here.

V. Fourth Marriage Impediment, Click here.

VI. Marriages Between Orthodox and Non-Orthodox Christians, Click here.

VII. Marriage with a Widow or Widower, Click here.

VIII. Marriage of Minors, Click here.

IX. Marriage with Members of Other Parishes, Click here.

X. Marriage with an Immigrant, Click here.

XI. Certificate of Eligibility to Marry (Πιστοποιητικῶν Ἐλευθερογαμίας), Click here.

XII. Sponsors (Koumbaro and/or Koumbara), Click here.

XIII. Forbidden Periods, Click here.

XIV. Celebration of Marriage Outside an Orthodox Temple, Click here.

XV. Marriage of Couples Received into the Orthodox Church, Click here.

XVI. Inter-Jurisdictional Marriage Issues, Click here.

XVII. Inter-Metropolis Marriages, Click here.

XVIII. Inter-Parish Marriages, Click here.

XIX. Responsibility for Submitting the Affidavit for License to Marry, Click here.

XX. Issuance of Ἐπισκοπική Ἅδεια Γάμου (Episcopal Permission to Marry), Click here.

XXI. Requirement for both a Civil Marriage License and the Ἐπισκοπική Ἄδεια Γάμου, Click here.

XXII. Celebration of the Mystery of Marriage, Click here.

XXIII. Musical Guidelines for the Celebration of the Mystery of Marriage, Click here.

XXIV. Completion of Documentation After the Marriage, Click here.

XXV. Issuance of the Marriage Certificate, Click here.

Procedures for Submitting the Affidavit for License to Marry, Click here.

INTRODUCTION

Marriage is unique among the Mysteries of the Orthodox Church insofar as it is the “original mystery” instituted by God in the garden of Eden before the fall. For this reason, unlike the other Mysteries, there are no references to sin in the Order of Marriage (except the Order of Second Marriage) as there are in the other services. Marriage is the Divinely-ordained normative estate of mankind, and the married couple is considered the foundation of society. The administrative regulations for Marriage are many, reflecting its sacramental, social, and civil implications. Since weddings usually involve a great deal of preparation and expense on the part of the couple and their families, Priests shall make every effort to ensure that all necessary ecclesiastical administrative forms are completed and submitted, so that a license can be issued in a timely manner. There should be no cause for a hurried administrative process, or to send documents via overnight delivery services. The issuance of an Episcopal License to Marry by the Metropolitan to the Priest performing the wedding indicates the theological and ecclesiological fact that all sacramental authority originates from the Metropolitan and that no Mysteries or other services are celebrated in his Metropolis without his blessing. The requirements associated with the administration of this Mystery reflect the civil and legal ramifications of Marriage. The procedures specified in these guidelines shall therefore be rigorously and exactly followed to ensure correct processing of the Affidavit and timely issuance of the Episcopal License to Marry.

Return to Topics Index, click here.

GENERAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGULATIONS

I. Authority

  1. 1. Since all authority to conduct the sacred Mysteries and all worship services issues from the Metropolitan, the Mystery of Marriage must be celebrated by a Priest belonging to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese according to the Liturgical Tradition of the Orthodox Church.

Return to Topics Index, click here.

II. General

  1. 1. An Affidavit for License to Marry (click for sample) is submitted by the Priest to his own Metropolitan, even if the proposed Marriage will take place at another parish within, or outside, the Metropolis.
  2. 2. An Affidavit for License to Marry shall be submitted only by Priests in parish ministry, specifically by the Proistamenos.
  3. 3. The couple planning to marry must obtain a civil marriage license from civil authorities in the location where the proposed Marriage will take place.
  4. 4. Before submitting the Affidavit for License to Marry, the Priest must verify that neither the groom nor the bride is already married, either in this country or elsewhere, and that there is no canonical impediment to their proposed marriage.
    1. a. Canonical impediments include issues described in the following Sections.

Return to Topics Index, click here.

III. Consanguinity Impediments (Prohibited Marriage Groups)

  1. 1. The groom and the bride shall not be related according to the criteria of the following prohibited marriage groups:
    1. a. First Group: Parents with their own children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren.
    2. b. Second Group: Brothers-in-law with sisters-in-law.
    3. c. Third Group: Uncles and aunts with nieces and nephews.
    4. d. Fourth Group: First cousins with each other.
    5. e. Fifth Group: Foster parents with foster children, or foster children with the children of foster parents.
    6. f. Sixth Group: Godparents with godchildren, or godparents with the parents of godchildren.

Return to Topics Index, click here.

IV. Second and Third Marriages

  1. 1. If the groom and/or the bride was previously married outside the Orthodox Church, he and/or she shall present to the Priest filing the Affidavit for License to Marry:
    1. a. The Civil Divorce certificate for the last marriage (or an exact copy)
    2. b. The death certificate of the spouse.
  2. 2. If the groom and/or the bride was previously married within the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America, he and/or she shall present the Civil Divorce certificate and the original Decree of Ecclesiastical Divorce (for the last marriage) to the Priest filing the Affidavit for License to Marry.
  3. 3. Some Orthodox jurisdictions do not issue a Decree of Ecclesiastical Divorce. Thus, if the groom and/or the bride was previously married within an Orthodox jurisdiction other than the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America, he and/or she shall:
    1. a. Present the Civil Divorce certificate (for the last marriage) to the Priest filing the Affidavit for License to Marry.
    2. b. Present their Orthodox Marriage Certificate (for the last marriage) to the Priest filing the Affidavit for License to Marry.
  4. 4. If the groom and/or the bride was previously married in the Orthodox Church, plans for a subsequent Marriage shall not be made or confirmed until the Decree(s) of Ecclesiastical Divorce is/are received by the party(ies) involved and submitted to the Priest filing the Affidavit for License to Marry.
  5. 5. All previous marriages, Orthodox and non-Orthodox must be recorded on a Supplementary Marriage Record Form, Denver Metropolis Form M-3E/Archdiocese Form 165 (click for sample)) for each party.
    1. a. If the groom was previously married, a Supplementary Marriage Record Form shall be submitted recording each prior marriage.
    2. b. If the bride was previously married, a Supplementary Marriage Record Form shall be submitted recording each prior marriage.
  6. 6. If the groom and the bride are currently married to each other (as is often the case with convert couples), or were previously married to each other, in a civil or non-Orthodox religious ceremony they must provide a copy of their civil marriage certificate, and a Supplementary Marriage Record Form (Denver Metropolis Form M-2E/Archdiocese Form 165) shall be submitted for both the groom and the bride.
  7. 7. No more than three Ecclesiastical Marriages are permitted by the Church; if the groom and/or the bride was previously married, this shall not be the fourth Orthodox marriage for either partner.
  8. 8. The Service of Second Marriage (Ἀκολουθία εἰς Δίγαμον) is usually conducted when both partners enter into a second or third Orthodox Marriage. It is not normally conducted when one partner is entering into a first Orthodox Marriage. Service of Second Marriage differs from that of the Crowning or Marriage (Ἀκολουθία τοῦ Στεφανώματος) as follows:
    1. a. The First Marriage begins with “Εὐλογημένη ἡ Βασιλεία...;” the Second begins with “Εὐλογητός ὁ Θεὸς...”
    2. b. After the petition for the Metropolitan, the Litany for the First Marriage continues with seven petitions for the couple; the Litany for the Second has only two (“Ὑπὲρ τῶν δούλων τοῦ Θεοῦ...καὶ τῆς ἐν Θεῶ σκέπης...,” and “Ὑπὲρ τοῦ συζήσαι αὐτοῦ...”).
    3. c. The Prayer after the Betrothal differs; at the First Marriage the prayer begins “Κύριε ὁ Θεὸς ἡμῶν...,” and at the Second it begins “Δέσποτα Κύριε, ὁ Θεὸς ἡμῶν...”
    4. d. After this Prayer the First Marriage Service continues with Psalm 127, Μακάριοι πάντες..., while the Second Marriage Service continues with the Prayer “Δέσποτα Κύριε, ὁ Θεὸς...” and immediately continues with “Κύριε Ἰησοῦ Χριστέ, Λόγε τοῦ Θεοῦ...”
    5. e. The Crowning and associated prayers, beginning with “Ὁ Θεὸς ὁ ἅγιος, ὁ πλάσας...,” as well as the continuation through the Dismissal are identical in both the First and Second Marriage Services

Return to Topics Index, click here.

V. Fourth Marriage Impediment

  1. 1. A fourth marriage is forbidden in the Orthodox Church for either partner.

Return to Topics Index, click here.

VI. Marriages Between Orthodox and Non-Orthodox Christians

  1. 1. At least one of the marriage partners shall be an Orthodox Christian.
  2. 2. The Mystery of Marriage of an Orthodox Christian with a non-Orthodox Christian shall be celebrated by an Orthodox Priest, in an Orthodox Church, and according to Orthodox liturgical Tradition.
  3. 3. If one of the marriage partners (either the groom or the bride) is not an Orthodox Christian:
    1. a. The non-Orthodox partner shall be a Christian who was Baptized with water in the name of the Holy Trinity in a denomination that expresses a belief in the Holy Trinity.
    2. b. The non-Orthodox partner shall be willing to have any children issuing from the marriage Baptized in the Orthodox Church as well as raised and nurtured in accordance with the Orthodox faith.
    3. c. The non-Orthodox partner shall not be a member of the following churches or religions (these marriages are prohibited in the Eastern Orthodox Church):
      1. (1) Assembly of God
      2. (2) Buddhism (i.e., a Buddhist)
      3. (3) Christian Scientist
      4. (4) Disciples of Christ
      5. (5) Members of any Far Eastern Religion
      6. (6) Hinduism (i.e., a Hindu)
      7. (7) Islam (i.e., Moslems)
      8. (8) Jehovah’s Witness
      9. (9) Judaism (i.e., a Jew)
      10. (10) Mennonite
      11. (11) Mormon (also called “Latter Day Saints)
      12. (12) Any Non-Christian
      13. (13) Pentecostal
      14. (14) Quaker
      15. (15) Salvation Army
      16. (16) Seventh Day Adventist
      17. (17) Spiritualist
      18. (18) Swedenborgian
      19. (19) Unitarian
      20. (20) Cults or New Age movements
  4. 4. A non-Orthodox Christian who marries an Orthodox Christian in accordance with the rites and traditions of the Church does not automatically become a member of the Orthodox Church, and is therefore not permitted to receive Holy Communion, Holy Unction, Holy Repentance, or an Orthodox Church funeral since these are privileges of the Baptized and Chrismated members of the Church.
  5. 5. A non-Orthodox Christian who marries an Orthodox Christian is warmly invited to attend the Divine Services and, if he/she freely chooses to do so, is encouraged to receive instruction in the faith and join the Orthodox Church through the Mystery of Chrismation (it is assumed that they are already Baptized since this is a pre-condition for the Marriage); this is in light of the fact that the more things a couple holds in common, the more likely it will be that they will live their married lives in peace and harmony. In addition, shared faith and traditions spare the couple and their children many serious problems and strengthen the bonds between them.

Return to Topics Index, click here.

VII. Marriage with a Widow or Widower

  1. 1. If the groom and/or the bride is widowed, he and/or she shall present the death certificate of the deceased spouse to the Priest filing the Affidavit for License to Marry.

Return to Topics Index, click here.

VIII. Marriage of Minors

  1. 1. If the groom and/or the bride is under 18 years of age, both parents or guardians of the minor shall provide written consent.

Return to Topics Index, click here.

IX. Marriage with Members of Other Parishes

  1. 1. If the groom and/or the bride is a member of another parish, he and/or she shall obtain a signed Certificate of Eligibility to Marry (Πιστοποιητικῶν Ἐλευθερογαμίας) from the Priest of that parish, and submit it to the Priest filing the Affidavit for License to Marry.
  2. 2. If the groom and/or the bride came into the Denver Metropolis after the age of 16, he and/or she shall obtain a Certificate of Eligibility to Marry (Πιστοποιητικῶν Ἐλευθερογαμίας) from the Priest of their previous parish, and shall submit it to the Priest filing the Affidavit for License to Marry.

Return to Topics Index, click here.

X. Marriage of an Immigrant

  1. 1. If the groom and/or the bride came to the United States from another country at age sixteen or older, he and/or she shall produce (and submit to the Priest filing the Affidavit for License to Marry) either:
    1. a. A certificate stating their eligibility to marry (Certificate of Eligibility to Marry, Πιστοποιητικῶν Ἐλευθερογαμίας, typically issued by their Metropolis in Greece).

      b. A notarized statement from the nearest relatives (next of kin) stating the number of years they have known the individual and testifying that they are free and eligible to marry may be accepted for individuals from other countries where there is no Orthodox Church or where no one knows of them.

  2. 2. This certification is not required if the individual came to the United States before the age of sixteen, and established residence within the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America.

Return to Topics Index, click here.

XI. Certificate of Eligibility to Marry (Πιστοποιητικῶν Ἐλευθερογαμίας)

  1. 1. The form for a Certificate of Eligibility to Marry (Πιστοποιητικῶν Ἐλευθερογαμίας) shall be as directed by the Metropolis Office.
  2. 2. Photocopies of a Certificate of Eligibility to Marry (Πιστοποιητικῶν Ἐλευθερογαμίας) are not acceptable.
  3. 3. A Certificate of Eligibility to Marry (Πιστοποιητικῶν Ἐλευθερογαμίας) for a wedding that will be conducted outside the Metropolis shall be prepared as follows:
    1. a. It will be filled out by the parish Priest, then sent to his Metropolitan.
    2. b. The Metropolitan will verify the signature of the parish Priest and return the Certificate of Eligibility to Marry to the Priest.
    3. c. The Parish Priest will, in turn, forward it to the Priest in the other Metropolis where the marriage will be celebrated.
  4. 4. A Certificate of Eligibility to Marry (Πιστοποιητικῶν Ἐλευθερογαμίας) for a wedding that will be conducted outside the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America shall be prepared by the parish Priest, then sent to the Metropolitan for verification of the Priest’s signature and for further transmission to the other jurisdiction.
  5. 5. A Certificate of Eligibility to Marry (Πιστοποιητικῶν Ἐλευθερογαμίας) for a wedding that will be conducted in another parish within the Metropolis shall be prepared by the parish Priest, and then may be sent directly to the other parish Priest without the requirement for Metropolitan for verification of the Priest’s signature.

Return to Topics Index, click here.

XII. Sponsors (Koumbaro and/or Koumbara)

  1. 1. The Sponsor (koumbaro or koumbara) shall be an Orthodox Christian in good standing with the Church.
  2. 2. The following persons can not be a Sponsor:
    1. a. An Orthodox Christian who does not belong to a parish.
    2. b. An Orthodox Christian who belongs to a parish not in Communion with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese; should this situation arise, the Priest shall contact the Metropolis Office for clarification regarding the canonical status of the other parish.
    3. c. A married Orthodox Christian who has not been married in the Orthodox Church.
    4. d. Any one who has been excommunicated or anathematized from the Orthodox Church.
    5. e. An Orthodox Deacon, Priest, or Bishop.
  3. 3. Non-Orthodox persons may, however, be members of the “wedding party”.
    1. a. A distinction can be made between the Orthodox Sponsor and the “best man” who by social custom stands next to the groom.

Return to Topics Index, click here.

XIII. Forbidden Periods

  1. 1. The Mystery of Marriage is not permitted on the following days:
    1. a. The day before and the day of the twelve Great Feast Days of Our Lord and the Theotokos:
      1. (1) Circumcision of our Lord (December 31 and January 1)
      2. (2) Theophany of our Lord (January 5 and 6)
      3. (3) Presentation of our Lord in the Temple (February 1 and 2)
      4. (4) Annunciation (March 24 and 25) – which in any event is during the Great Fast
      5. (5) Palm Sunday (Saturday and Sunday)
      6. (6) Pascha (Saturday and Sunday)
      7. (7) Ascension of our Lord (Wednesday and Thursday)
      8. (8) Pentecost (Saturday and Sunday)
      9. (9) Transfiguration of our Lord (August 5 and 6), which in any event is during the Dormition Fast
      10. (10) Dormition of the Theotokos (August 14 and 15)
      11. (11) Entrance of the Theotokos in the Temple (November 20 and 21)
      12. (12) Nativity of our Lord (December 24 and 25)
    2. b. Great Lent and Holy Week
    3. c. August 1 through 15 (Dormition Fast)
    4. d. August 29 (Feast of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist)
    5. e. September 14 (Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross)
    6. f. December 13 through 25 (last portion of the Nativity Fast; Forefeast period of the Nativity).
    7. Note: The Church has not forbidden the Celebration of the Mystery of Marriage during the Apostle’s Fast after Pentecost.
  2. 2. If the Mystery of Marriage must out of absolute necessity be celebrated on one of the non-permissible days, the Priest shall request an exception from the Metropolitan in writing to celebrate the Marriage stating the extenuating circumstances for authorizing the Marriage on a specific date by oikonomia.
  3. 3. If the Metropolitan permits the Mystery of Marriage on one of the non-permissible days for reasons of oikonomia, the wedding celebration shall be muted and due regard paid to the fasting restrictions of the season; e.g., no dancing allowed and only appropriate Lenten foods may be served.

Return to Topics Index, click here.

XIV. Celebration of Marriage Outside an Orthodox Temple

  1. 1. If the Mystery of Marriage can not be celebrated in an Orthodox church (temple), such as may occur in areas of the Metropolis where no Orthodox church exists, the Priest shall request an exception from the Metropolitan in writing stating the extenuating circumstances for authorizing the Marriage at a specific location by oikonomia.
  2. 2. The Mystery of Marriage shall not be celebrated outside an Orthodox church (temple) without the written permission of the Metropolitan.
  3. 3. Dispensation to celebrate the Mystery of Marriage outside an Orthodox church (temple) will not be granted if there is an Orthodox church (temple) in the area.

Return to Topics Index, click here.

XV. Marriage of Couples Received into the Orthodox Church

  1. 1. Couples received into the Orthodox Church through Baptism and/or Chrismation shall be Married in the Church; this may be a private ceremony, involving only the Priest, the couple, and the sponsor.

Return to Topics Index, click here.

XVI. Inter-Jurisdictional Marriage Issues

  1. 1. Note that some Orthodox jurisdictions, such as the Orthodox Church in America, do not marry couples previously married and accepted into the Orthodox Church through Chrismation, since they propose that the Mystery of Chrismation itself “fulfills” the previous non-Orthodox Baptism and Marriage.
  2. 2. The Mystery of Marriage performed in other Orthodox jurisdictions in communion with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese is recognized by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.

Return to Topics Index, click here.

XVII. Inter-Metropolis Marriages

  1. 1. If a Marriage will be celebrated at a parish within another Metropolis (that is, not in the parish where the bride resides and in which the wedding customarily takes place), the following procedures shall be followed:
    1. a. The Priest of the bride’s parish shall prepare the Affidavit for License to Marry, and submit it to his own Metropolitan.
    2. b. The Metropolitan will examine the Application, and upon approval will issue the Ἐπισκοπική Ἅδεια Γάμου (Episcopal Permission to Marry) to the Priest of the bride’s parish.
    3. c. Upon receiving the Ἐπισκοπική Ἅδεια Γάμου (Episcopal Permission to Marry) from his Metropolitan, the Priest of the bride’s parish shall transfer it to the Priest of the parish where the wedding will take place, requesting the Priest to celebrate the Marriage on his behalf. This notation shall be written at the top of the Episcopal Permission to Marry and shall be signed by the bride’s Priest.
    4. d. After the Marriage is celebrated, the Priest serving the Mystery shall complete the bottom form on the Ἐπισκοπική Ἅδεια Γάμου (Episcopal Permission to Marry), the Δήλωσις Τελέσεως Γάμου (Certificate of Marriage Performed), and return it to the priest who transferred it to him who in turn will record in his parish marriage registry before he forwards it to his Metropolis.
    5. e. After receiving the completed Δήλωσις Τελέσεως Γάμου (Certificate of Marriage Performed), the Priest of the bride’s parish shall send it to his own Metropolitan so that the Marriage Certificate may be prepared and sent to the couple.
    6. f. If the priest from the bride’s parish traveled to serve the wedding at the other parish, he shall complete the bottom form on the Ἐπισκοπική Ἅδεια Γάμου (Episcopal Permission to Marry), the Δήλωσις Τελέσεως Γάμου (Certificate of Marriage Performed), and send it to his own Metropolitan.
    7. g. The marriage is recorded in the appropriate Parish Registers of both parishes.

Return to Topics Index, click here.

XVIII. Inter-Parish Marriages

  1. 1. If a Marriage will be celebrated at another parish within the Metropolis (that is, not in the parish of the bride where the wedding customarily takes place), the following procedures shall be followed:
    1. a. The Priest of the bride’s parish shall prepare the Affidavit for License to Marry, and submit it to the Metropolitan.
    2. b. The Metropolitan will examine the Application, and upon approval will issue the Ἐπισκοπική Ἅδεια Γάμου (Episcopal Permission to Marry) to the Priest of the bride’s parish.
    3. c. Upon receiving the Ἐπισκοπική Ἅδεια Γάμου (Episcopal Permission to Marry) from his Metropolitan, the Priest of the bride’s parish shall transfer it to the Priest of the parish where the wedding will take place, requesting the Priest to celebrate the Marriage on his behalf
    4. d. After the Marriage is celebrated, the Priest serving the Mystery shall complete the bottom form on the Ἐπισκοπική Ἅδεια Γάμου (Episcopal Permission to Marry), the Δήλωσις Τελέσεως Γάμου (Certificate of Marriage Performed), and send it to the Metropolitan so that the Marriage Certificate may be prepared and sent to the couple.
    5. e. The marriage is recorded in the appropriate Parish Registers of both parishes.
  2. 2. If a parish priest should celebrate the Mystery of Marriage for his own parishioners at another Metropolis parish church (as sometimes happens when a large wedding is planned at a small parish church and a larger neighboring Greek Orthodox parish church is made available), the priest records the Marriage only in the register of his own parish making the proper notation in the registry column marks “comments.” However the name of the church where the Marriage takes place and the city is used. In effect, the Marriage is treated as though it were celebrated in a rented hall or other site.

Return to Topics Index, click here.

XIX. Responsibility for Submitting the Affidavit for License to Marry

  1. 1. The parish Priest is responsible for gathering all required documentation and for submitting a complete Affidavit for License to Marry package to the Metropolis for approval by the Metropolitan and issuance of the Ἐπισκοπική Ἅδεια Γάμου (Episcopal Permission to Marry) which is effectively the Ecclesiastical Marriage License).
  2. 2. If there is a question about the status of an Affidavit for License to Marry, the Priest submitting the Affidavit shall contact the Metropolis on behalf of the couple; the couple shall be discouraged from personally calling the Metropolis Office.

Return to Topics Index, click here.

XX. Issuance of Ἐπισκοπική Ἅδεια Γάμου (Episcopal Permission to Marry)

  1. 1. The Ἐπισκοπική Ἅδεια Γάμου (Episcopal Permission to Marry) will be issued to the Priest who shall thereupon have canonical permission to celebrate the Holy Mystery of Marriage.

Return to Topics Index, click here.

XXI. Requirement for both a Civil Marriage License and the Ἐπισκοπική Ἄδεια Γάμου

  1. 1. The Ἐπισκοπική Ἅδεια Γάμου (Episcopal Permission to Marry) is mandatory before the Priest can conduct a Marriage; under no circumstances may a Priest celebrate the Marriage ceremony without permission from the Metropolis.
  2. 2. Under no circumstances shall the priest serve the Mystery of Marriage without receiving from the groom and the bride a license from the civil authorities wherever such is required. A priest who celebrates a wedding without permission from the civil authorities is solely responsible for this act, and may be subject to punishment under civil law.

Return to Topics Index, click here.

XXII. Celebration of the Mystery of Marriage

  1. 1. Since the Episcopal License to Marry is issued by the Metropolitan, the Mystery of Marriage must be celebrated by a Priest belonging to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese according to the Liturgical Tradition of the Orthodox Church.
  2. 2. The Mystery of Matrimony, as with all Mysteries, shall be served in accordance with the Euchologion.
  3. 3. The Mystery of Matrimony may be served in English or in Greek – or in both languages – according to the circumstances of the couple and those in attendance.
  4. 4. The Priest shall permit only the groom and the bride to drink from the common cup; no one else, not even the sponsor, may partake of it.
  5. 5. It is proper for the Priest to address the newlyweds at the conclusion of the service.
  6. 6. It is a commendable practice for the Priest to present the newly-married couple with a gift; particularly appropriate is a Bible or an Icon.
  7. 7. If the Marriage is between Orthodox and non-Orthodox Christian partners, a non-Orthodox Christian minister or priest may be invited to say a few words or offer a blessing prayer at the end of the Orthodox Service if requested by the non-Orthodox partner..
    1. a. Such words or blessing, however, are expressly forbidden during the Marriage Service, between “Εὐλογημένη ἡ Βασιλεία...” and “Δἰ εὐχῶν τῶν ἁγίων Πατέρων ἡμῶν...”.
    2. b. Such words or blessing should be spoken after the end of the Service; i.e., after “Δἰ εὐχῶν τῶν ἁγίων Πατέρων ἡμῶν...”

Return to Topics Index, click here.

XXIII. Musical Guidelines for the Celebration of the Mystery of Marriage

  1. 1. The music used at the Marriage celebration is usually taken from the tradition of the Orthodox Church, regardless of origin (Greek, Slavonic, Arabic, etc.).
  2. 2. If the Marriage is between Orthodox and non-Orthodox Christian partners, the non-Orthodox partner may desire to include music from their own religious heritage; this may be allowed at the discretion of the Metropolitan under the following guidelines:
    1. a. The music or hymn shall be sung or played before or after the Marriage Service (i.e., before “Εὐλογημένη ἡ Βασιλεία...” and after “Δἰ εὐχῶν τῶν ἁγίων Πατέρων ἡμῶν...”); it shall not be played or sung during the Marriage Service.
    2. b. The music or hymn shall be in keeping with the solemnity of the occasion.
    3. c. The music or hymn shall be those traditionally accepted, and not of an extreme or avant-garde nature such as “Christian rock” music or from Broadway musicals.
    4. d. Any words in a hymn must reflect the basic Orthodox understanding of marriage; e.g., “two are united into one,” the couple have “an abiding faith in God,” etc.
    5. e. Hymns such as those taken from the liturgical life of a non-Orthodox Church, such as “Ave Maria” or “Amazing Grace” have been acceptable, but require previous permission from the Metropolitan.
      1. (1) The Ave Maria, which is particularly popular among Roman Catholic marriage partners has been very desirable; the Latin words sung are: “Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum; benedicta tu en mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tuis, Jesus;” i.e., “Hail Mary. full of grace, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.” Note that these words, however, refer exclusively to the Theotokos and have nothing to do with the bride.
    6. f. ”Cocktail songs” or Broadway show tunes are not permitted; if appropriate, these may instead be sung at the reception.
    7. g. Musical instruments are not allowed. In the absence of an organ, however, classical string instruments may be allowed but only at the discretion of the Metropolitan, with his prior permission, and under the following guidelines:
      1. (1) The musical instrument should be appropriate to the music or hymn; e.g., a guitar would not normally be used to play the “Ave Maria.”
      2. (2) The musical instrument should be suited to the Orthodox liturgical setting; for example, strings, flutes, and harps have been generally acceptable; guitars, mandolins, and bouzoukis are not. Such instruments have been allowed in places where the church organ was not in service or did not exist and when the players were invited relatives and friends of the bridal couple.
  3. 5. The chanter should offer the liturgical responses throughout the service; the choir may participate if requested. Exceptions may be made only at the discretion of the Metropolitan.
  4. 6. The playing of any music, or the singing of any hymns, not expressly part of the traditional Orthodox Marriage Service is forbidden during the Marriage Service (i.e., between “Εὐλογημένη ἡ Βασιλεία...” and “Δἰ εὐχῶν τῶν ἁγίων Πατέρων ἡμῶν...”).
    1. a. The Lord’s Prayer may be sung during the Marriage Service, at the discretion of the Priest; it is preferable, however, for it to be sung before or after the Service. Within the Service the Lord’s Prayer should be said by all.

Return to Topics Index, click here.

XXIV. Completion of Documentation After the Marriage

  1. 1. The Priest shall complete the bottom form on the Ἐπισκοπική Ἅδεια Γάμου (Episcopal Permission to Marry), the Δήλωσις Τελέσεως Γάμου, and submit it to the Metropolis.
  2. 2. The Priest shall also complete all civil documentation required by local law and submit it in accordance with prescribed civil procedures.
  3. 3. The Priest shall record all data in the Parish Register of Marriages.

Return to Topics Index, click here.

XXV. Issuance of the Marriage Certificate

  1. 1. After the Δήλωσις Τελέσεως Γάμου (Certificate of Marriage Performed) has been received, a Marriage Certificate will be issued by the Metropolitan, and mailed to the married couple.

Return to Topics Index, click here.

CLERGY PROCEDURES FOR SUBMITTING THE AFFIDAVIT FOR LICENSE TO MARRY

  1. 1. After counseling with the couple who intend to marry (this should require several visits), instructing them on the significance of Christian marriage and advising them regarding the administrative procedures for obtaining an Ecclesiastical Marriage License, the Priest shall submit the following documents to the Metropolis:
    1. a. Marriage Data Sheet and Checklist (required for all marriages)
    2. b. Affidavit For License To Marry (required for all marriages)
    3. c. Such other documents as listed below if required.
  2. 2. The Affidavit For License To Marry – Αἴτησις Ἐπισκοπικῆς Ἅδειας Γάμου (click for sample):
    1. a. The Affidavit For License To Marry is required for all marriages.
    2. b. The Affidavit For License To Marry shall be submitted to the Metropolis no less than 30 days prior and no more than 60 days prior to the planned wedding date.
    3. c. The Affidavit For License To Marry shall be filled out completely, including:
      1. (1) All information typed or printed neatly.
      2. (2) Full street, city, and state addresses.
      3. (3) Full Month, day, and year dates.
      4. (4) Exact Baptism and Chrismation dates (month, day, and year).
      5. (5) First and last names of the bride and/or groom provided in English; they may also be provided in Greek if they are of Greek descent.
    4. d. The Affidavit For License To Marry shall be signed by the Priest who shall affix the Parish Seal to the Affidavit.
  3. 3. Decree of Dissolution of Marriage issued by the Civil Court.
    1. a. The Decree of Dissolution of Marriage is required if the groom and/or the bride was previously married, whether or not the marriage was recognized by the Church
    2. b. The groom and/or the bride shall present an exact copy of the Civil Divorce certificate(s) for the last marriage.
    3. c. A photocopy of the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage is acceptable, but the Priest shall:
      1. (1) Examine the original.
      2. (2) Ensure that the original is a Decree of Dissolution and not some other document
      3. (3) Ensure the original is official (look for the judge’s signature and/or a stamp with the Civil Court “date entered”).
  4. 4. Decree of Ecclesiastical Divorce (if required).
    1. a. The Decree of Dissolution of Marriage is required if the groom and/or the bride was previously married by the Church.
    2. b. The groom and/or the bride shall present the original Ecclesiastical Divorce Decree for a subsequent Church marriage.
    3. c. A photocopy of the Ecclesiastical Divorce Decree is not acceptable.
  5. 5. Supplementary Marriage Record Form (Denver Metropolis Form M-3E/Archdiocese Form 165), if required; (click for sample):
    1. a. The Supplementary Marriage Record Form is required if the groom and/or the bride was previously married by the state or by the Church, even to each other.
    2. b. A separate form shall be submitted for each individual previously married.
    3. c. If the couple was previously married to each other (often the case in regard to convert couples):
      1. (1) A Supplementary Marriage Record Form (Denver Metropolis Form M-2E/Archdiocese Form 165) is required for each person.
      2. (2) The couple shall submit a copy of their civil marriage certificate.
  6. 6. Baptism and Chrismation Certificates.
    1. a. Baptism and Chrismation Certificates are required for the Orthodox partner(s).
    2. b. A transcript or photocopy of the Baptism and Chrismation Certificate(s) is acceptable.
  7. 7. Baptism Certificate.
    1. a. A Baptism Certificate is required for the non-Orthodox partner if either the groom or the bride is not an Orthodox Christian.
    2. b. A transcript or photocopy of the Baptism Certificate(s) is acceptable.
  8. 8. Death Certificate.
    1. a. A Death Certificate if the groom and/or the bride is widowed.
  9. 9. Written Consent of Parents or Guardian
    1. a. Written Consent of Parents or Guardian is required if the groom and/or the bride is under 18 years of age.
    2. b. If the individual has two parents or two guardians, both shall provide this written consent.
    3. c. The legal guardian(s) shall provide this written consent form.
  10. 10. Certificate or Letter of Parish Membership
    1. a. A Certificate or Letter of Parish Membership is required if the groom and/or the bride is a member of an Orthodox parish other than the one in which they are being married.
    2. b. The groom and/or the bride shall obtain the Certificate or Letter of Parish Membership from the Priest of their parish.
  11. 11. Certificate of Eligibility to Marry (Πιστοποιητικῶν Ἐλευθερογαμίας):
    1. a. The Certification of Eligibility to Marry is required if:
      1. (1) The groom and/or the bride came to the United States after the age of sixteen; if so, he and/or she shall produce either:
        1. (a) A certificate stating their eligibility to marry (typically issued by their Metropolis in Greece).
        2. (b) A notarized statement from the nearest relatives (next of kin) stating the number of years they have known the individual and testifying that he/she is are free and eligible to marry.
      2. (2) The groom and/or the bride came into the Denver Metropolis from another Metropolis after the age of 16; if so, he and/or she shall produce:
        1. (a) A certificate stating their eligibility to marry issued by the Priest of their previous parish.
  12. 12. Request to Perform the Mystery of Marriage on a Non-permissible Day.
    1. a. A Request to Perform the Mystery of Marriage on a Non-permissible Day is required if the Mystery must out of absolute necessity be celebrated on one of those days.
    2. b. The Priest shall submit the Request to Celebrate the Mystery of Marriage on a Non-permissible Day in writing.
  13. 13. Request to Perform the Mystery of Marriage Outside an Orthodox Church (Temple).
    1. a. A Request to Celebrate the Mystery of Marriage Outside an Orthodox Church (Temple) is required if the Mystery can not be celebrated in an Orthodox church (temple).
    2. b. The Priest shall submit the Request to Celebrate the Mystery of Marriage Outside an Orthodox Church (Temple) in writing.
  14. 14. Parish Register(s).
    1. a. All Marriages shall be recorded in the appropriate Parish Register(s).
    2. b. If the Marriage documents were submitted by one priest, and signed over to the priest of another parish (within this Metropolis or in another Metropolis), the Marriage shall be recorded in the Parish Registers of both parishes.
  15. 15. Note: The entire package of documents, including the Affidavit For License To Marry – Αἴτησις Ἐπισκοπικῆς Ἅδειας Γάμου, will be returned to the Priest if:
    1. a. Exact information is not provided
    2. b. Incomplete information is provided
    3. c. All additional documents, decrees, and certificates as may be required are not attached.

Return to Topics Index, click here.

Email: fr.luke@denver.goarch.org
© 2003-2018, Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church
Contact Information