Dear newly engaged, Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!
With all our love and respect, we strongly advise: DO NOT make any bookings with any reception centres, or make any wedding-related commitments before consulting with your parish priest about the proposed date of your wedding.
You must first ensure that:
- The Church is available on your proposed date.
- Your proposed date is not a prohibited day for marriage in the Orthodox Church calendar (see below clause 5 or the Archdiocese yearly calendar)
- Reading the important information on the page below
We recommend that you clear this date with your parish priest as far in advance as possible.
The Church/Archdiocese cannot take ANY responsibility for any issues that arise from failure to follow to this advice.
The Institution of the Holy Mystery
From the beginning God Himself instituted the Holy Mystery of Marriage, for:
“God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth… Therefore, a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh”
(Genesis 1: 27-28a, 2:24).
The Lord Jesus Christ confirmed this plan of God which had its origin at the beginning when He said
““For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”. So, they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder’”
(Matthew 19: 5-6).
The Church confirmed the sacramental character of Marriage by putting it in the context of the mystery of salvation. The unity between male and female becomes an image of the unity between Christ and his Church (see Ephesians 5: 31-33).
The blessing of the Church is obligatory in order to perform the Mystery of Marriage and Marriage should be accomplished in a correct and ecclesiastical manner as stipulated by the canons of the Church and by civil law.
Marriage is an Ecclesial (Church Community) event and not just a matter for families. Marriage is an event that transcends the bridal couple and concerns the whole Church. Therefore, Marriage is subject to Ecclesiastical (Church) law, and it complies with the civil law particular to each region.
Conditions of Marriage
A valid Orthodox Marriage requires:
- An Orthodox Partner: At least one of the partners (either the man or the woman) must be Orthodox and the other must be baptised, having had a valid baptism in the Name of the Holy Trinity. Marriage with a person who is unbaptised, or with unbelievers, is void.
- An Orthodox Priest: The marriage must be performed according to the authorised rites of the Church by an Orthodox priest who is authorised to celebrate divine services and who has permission from his spiritual authority to bless marriages and he is authorised as a registered celebrant.
- An Orthodox Church: Marriage should be celebrated in the Orthodox Church.
- According to the Orthodox Church: Marriage must be conducted according to the rite laid down in the Service Book and should be performed faithfully and exactly. Download the service here.
- According to permittable seasons: There are some exceptions to when you can and can’t get married! See below for Seasons
Requirements Before a Marriage Can Be Contracted
Prior to the celebration of a marriage you must provide:
- Birth Certificate
- Baptism Certificate
- Copy of the current Driver’s License
- Copy of the current Passport
- Letter of Dispensation (Free to marry) from the parish priest
- If for some reason a letter of Dispensation is not obtainable a Single Status evidence from the Birth, Death and Marriage office (BDM)
- Pre-Marriage Counselling
- The couple must do the pre-marriage counselling offered by the Archdiocese. See below for upcoming sessions.
Having obtained the above, then the Intent of Marriage Form can be signed in preparation for a follow-up. These requirements must be met before the marriage, and only when they are fulfilled is it permitted to celebrate the marriage.
All the faithful must disclose any impediments know by them to the parish priest, prior to any marriage being contracted.
Seasons at which a Celebration of Marriage is Permitted:
The Church permits the celebration of marriage on every day, all the year round, EXCEPT the following days
- NOT during the Christmas preparation from 20th of December up to 25th of December
- NOT on the day of the Theophany (Baptism of Christ) 6th January and the day of Paramon (5th January)
- NOT during Great Lent: From Wednesday preceding Cheese-Fare Sunday up to Bright Saturday prior St. Thomas Sunday
- NOT on Holy Pentecost Sunday (50 days after Easter/Pascha)
- NOT during the days of the Dormition Fast (1 to 15 August inclusive)
- NOT on the Feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist (29th of August)
- NOT on the Feast of the Elevation of the Holy Cross (14th of September)
- NOT on the Eve of Sunday (that is, every Saturday evening after Vespers), because that is a time of Preparation for the Lord’s Day
The Church forbids the celebration of marriage on the days mentioned above for the following reason:
- Fasting is essential: When a marriage would take place during the period of a fast, it is because a fast requires, of the faithful, asceticism and devotion, and avoidance of aspects of worldly pleasure.
- Salvation without distraction: When a marriage would take place during the period of the Feasts of the Lord, it is because these feasts ask the faithful to enter into the joy of salvation that derives from them and to participate in them without the distraction of any other worldly pleasure.
- Requires preparation: When a marriage would take place on a Saturday evening, it is avoided because each Saturday evening is a time of preparation for the Lord’s Day and that includes preparation to be united in the precious Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.