The Orthodox Wedding Ceremony
First is the Rite (Service) of Betrothal, in which rings are exchanged as a sign of commitment and devotion to one another. The bride and the groom exchange rings three times to symbolize the Holy Trinity.The Ceremony of the Sacrament of Holy marriage comes next and consists of several key parts. First, several prayers are said and then as they come to an end, the priest joins the right hands of the bride and groom. Their hands remain joined until the end of the wedding ceremony, which symbolises the couple's union.
The "Crowning," in which crowns or wreaths are placed on or held above the heads of the bride and groom. This signifies that in marriage there is a certain amount of sacrifice, especially in the area of "give and take." It also signifies that in a certain respect the bride and groom become the "king and queen" of their own "kingdom," or family, which is an integral part of the Kingdom of God.
The crowning is followed by a reading of the Gospel, which tells of the marriage of Cana at Galilee. It was at this wedding that Jesus performed his first miracle, changing water into wine, which was then given to the married couple. Wine is given to the couple and they each drink from it three times. The sharing of a common cup of wine signifies that in marriage all things are shared equally.
Next is the procession around the sacramental table, during which the priest leads the couple three times as they take their first steps together as husband and wife.
When the Ceremonial Walk has ended, the priest blesses the couple, the crowns are removed and he then separates their previously joined hands with the bible, reminding them that only God can break the union which they have just entered into. After the final blessing, all gathered wish the couple "Many Happy Years" of blessings.
There are no "vows" in the Orthodox ritual, as found in other confessions.