What was my first impression of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Pittsburgh, Pa for Niko and Stephanie’s wedding? IT IS BREATHTAKING!
Words can not adequately describe the beauty of this church, its people or their wedding day. The only thing more beautiful than the church itself was the wedding ceremony that made Niko and Stephanie husband and wife.
If you have never been to an Eastern Greek Orthodox wedding, I implore you to attend one. I am going to highlight some of the important traditions that take place during the wedding ceremony.
The betrothal ceremony is where the priest recites bible passages, makes the sign of the cross and blesses the couples rings. The koumbaro then exchanged the rings 3 times between Niko and Stephanie’s fingers. This signifies that the weakness of one will be compensated by the other. Unlike traditional wedding ceremonies, the rings are placed on the 3rd finger on the right hand, instead of the left.
The priest then gave Niko and Stephanie candles to hold for the remainder of the ceremony in their left hands. This was a symbol to accept God’s blessings. The priest then joined the couples right hands, and they held hands for the remainder of the ceremony. This was a symbol of their “oneness.”
The crowning is the centerpiece in the Eastern Orthodox ceremony. Garland wreaths are made into crowns to represent honor and glory. The koumbaros present the couple each with a crown that is connected with a white ribbon to signify the couples unity.
The priest placed the crowns on the couples heads. Then the koumbaros swapped the crowns between Niko and Stephanie three times each. According to tradition, the crowns are to stay with the couples FOR LIFE!
Following the crowning comes the common cup, in which the bride and groom each take three sips from the same cup. This is a representation of the wedding of Cana of Galilee.
It was at this wedding that Jesus turned water into wine. The couple is reminded that they will now share everything.
Finally, the priest and the koumbaros led the couple around the altar three times. This ritual predates Christianity. It represents the dance around the Ark of the Covenant.
I was very touched by the wedding ceremony, and I hope you have enjoyed reading about it!
During the reception, there were traditional Greek dances, but the couple agreed to not smash plates!
Niko and Stephanie’s wedding really stood out for many reasons. I have never witnessed something so moving at a wedding. The groom announced at the reception that they had set up a table in the foyer filled with items to fill canvas bags with.
In lieu of wedding favors, they asked their guests to go out and fill a bag with the items they provided.Soap, granola bars, socks, hand sanitizer, toothbrushes, etc. were laid out on the table. The guests were to take the bags with them, and when they saw a homeless person in need, to give them the “Bag of Blessings” as a token from the wedding.
This was a VERY humbling wedding to capture. It is so easy to get caught up in the moment and to forget to be thankful. Niko and Stephanie reminded me that we always have time to help others, even on our wedding day.
Niko and Stephanie’s Wedding Venue: http://www.holytrinitypgh.org