Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A PrettyHappyFunnyReal Wedding

In the Byzantine rite, bride and groom are "crowned" in marriage, they are king and queen of their new family and remain the royalty of their family even when consumed with work and diapers. These crowns are pretty and pretty typical, though some Byzantine crowns are even more elaborate. Of course, the bride wears the Mary crown and the groom wears the Jesus crown. The priest or cantor sings Psalm 127 when the bride and groom are crowned:
Blest are all who fear the lord,
who walk in His ways.
You will eat the fruit of your labours,
blessed are you and it will be well with you.
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
on the walls of your house.
Your sons around your table
like young shoots around an olive tree.
Behold. Thus will the man be blessed
who fears the Lord.
May the Lord bless you from Zion
and you will see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.
You will see your children’s children:
Peace be on Israel!
There are always big, happy smiles at this point in the marriage ceremony: the priests and other clergy, sponsoring couples (normally holding large decorated candles) and the crowned bride and groom circle the Gospel table three times to the Tropars-
Dance, Isaiah!
A Virgin has conceived
and has borne a Son, Emmanuel,
Who is God and Man:
his name is "Orient"
When we extol him We call that Virgin blessed!
O holy martyrs!
You fought well and have received your crowns.
On our behalf entreat the Lord
to have mercy on our souls!
Glory to You, O Christ God,
the apostles’ boast, the martyrs’ joy,
they whose preaching was the Trinity
One in Being!
What's so funny about this beautiful icon of the wedding at Cana in Galilee? I just love that Jesus- God and Man- is looking at His mother the Theotokos as she is telling Him about the wedding's wine shortage. Notice how she is touching Him and their halos intersect. This is a Man who respects His mother and does what she suggests. Why should He care about a wedding party? Of course, He uses this first public miracle as a way to elevate marriage- but He also uses the miracle as a way to show that if He does what Mary wants, we should as well. So, I smile when I see this icon.

In our rite, we are crowned as king and queen. So life is always perfect, right? Well, no. These are also crowns of martyrdom, as witnesses to Christ.

God, our God. You went to Cana in Galilee and blessed the marriage there. Bless too these servants of Yours now joined together by Your providence in the communion of marriage. Bless their comings and goings, give their life a great store of good things and receive their crowns in Your kingdom, keeping them without spot or stain or reproach for ages of ages.

Serious, real stuff- but marriage is serious and sometimes a bit too real- so we humans need all the graces we can get.

Most pure God. Builder of every created thing. Because of Your man-befriending love You changed the rib of our forefather Adam into a woman. You blessed them and said: "Be fruitful and multiply, subdue the earth." By uniting them, You made one flesh of the two — "this is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife and the two become one body:" and "what God has united, man must not separate."

By opening Sarah’s womb You blessed Your servant Abraham and made him the father of many nations. You gave Isaac to Rebecca and blessed her when she bore children. You joined Jacob to Rachel and drew the twelve patriarchs from his line. You made Joseph one with Asenath and gave them Ephraim and Manasseh as the fruit of childbirth. You accepted Zachary and Elizabeth and made their offspring the forerunner. You made the ever-virgin sprout into flesh from the root of Jesse and, taking flesh from her, You were born for the salvation of the human race. You went to Cana in Galilee with Your unexpected gift and abundant goodness and blessed the marriage there in order to show Your approval of lawful wedlock and its fruit, the birth of children.

Most holy Master, accept the prayer we Your servants make: because You went to Cana, bless this marriage after coming here, too, with Your now unseen presence, and give these servants of Yours G. and B., a peaceful life, length of days, chastity, love for one another in a bond of peace, long-lived descendants, gratitude for their children and an unfading crown of glory. Let them see their children’s children, keep their bed unassailed, give to them of the dew of the heavens above and of the fertility of the earth. Fill their houses with grain, wine and oil, yes, with every good thing, so that they in turn may share with those in need. At the same time, grant to those present here with them every request helpful toward salvation.


  1. I'd love to attend a Byzantine rite wedding, or even just a Mass, one day! We had the wedding at Cana as the "theme" of our wedding. It was the Gospel reading, and our priest gave a beautiful homily about it. Aside from discussing how his miracle was at a wedding, and how we all should follow his example to honor our Mother Mary, he also talked about how our meager offerings of our daily work ("water") in marriage can be turned into grace ("wine") by Christ! Beautiful symbolism.

  2. Hi,

    Been visiting your Blog for a few minutes now. Look forward to reading all the "Under Construction" sites when completed. I like the way you have all the headings up top leading to different pages. Hope to visit here again

    God bless.

  3. Wow! Absolutely gorgeous!!! I love the second photo - the colors!

  4. Nice post - interesting to see how other traditions "do it"!

  5. Victor- I'm working on it!...and I'm finally getting a new camera, so that should help me 'construct' those pages

  6. How beautiful! I love seeing other traditions :) I'm looking forward to checking out more of your blog.

  7. This is lovely. There's so much beauty on your blog, and I love to visit. I've given you two awards on my blog.

  8. mgudlewski- aw...thanks...running over

  9. This was beautiful and informative, I'm so glad you shared it.

  10. Cottage Child- I can't comment on your blog (!!!???)- so if you stop by here again- YES- call up the VBS people and offer help. I couldn't offer help at all for Nutcracker this past year, but on the spur of the moment, I offered some time on the day of and 'saved the day' by getting the wine for the VIP reception- there is room for any kind of volunteering...and also, I LOVE PHC. that is all.

  11. It's truly interesting seeing all the different variations of a tradition even within the same religious rite. The crowns we wore at our wedding (five years ago) were the church's standard crowns, and look so different from the ones you posted. They also didn't have the Mary and Jesus icons on them. Here's an image of us from our wedding day during the crowning:

    I remember while we were walking around the tetrapod, I was very nervous that the crown would fall off my head. My veil was probably not the best to wear with crowns of this nature, but it was my "something borrowed" from a friend and I was determined to make it work.


thanks for commenting! (comments on old posts are moderated)