The official requirements are very simple: all that is needed is a baptism certificate; there is no requirement to attend pre-matrimonial courses.
The civil validity of the Orthodox union can be secured before or within the religious marriage service, if the minister is recognised by the state.
For the Orthodox Church, matrimony is a very important sacrament, which unites a man and a woman indissolubly; the bond even survives the death of one of the spouses. Only a Bishop has the power to dissolve this bond and allow a second marriage, which will have a similarly solemn service.
The Orthodox rite resembles a dance, which is pided into two distinct parts: Betrothal and Coronation.
One of the recurring themes in the ceremony is the number three, symbolising the Trinity; during the Betrothal phase, the minister blesses the couple three times, signing a cross on their heads, and they exchange rings three times as well.
During the Coronation phase, the betrothed are conducted to the altar by the priest. Together, they dance around the altar three times and exchange three chalices of wine with each other before being crowned.
Orthodox weddings need to be planned well in advance, making sure that the chosen date does not coincide with other Orthodox feast days, during which weddings are not permitted.
These periods include:
- The Four Long Fasts
- The Fast From Eating Meat
- Holy Week, Leading Up To Easter
- Christmas Period 7th January and the Theophany Feast 19th January
- The Eve Of The 12 Great Feast Days
- On Tuesdays, Thursdays And Saturdays All Year Round The 10th, 11th, 26thand 27th Of September, (Due To The Strict Fasts To Commemorate The Beheading Of John The Baptists And The Elevation Of The Cross)
- The Eve Of The Special Feast Days Of The Church Concerned (Each Church Has Its Own Specific Feast Days).