Macedonian Orthodox Ceremonies

At Serendipity we have captured a number of Macedonian Orthodox ceremonies and truly appreciate the rich cultural traditions of the Macedonian Orthodox church. From the moment that the couple enters the church, to the crowning ceremony and finally ending with the ceremonial walk around the alter, the traditional Macedonian Orthodox wedding is one of vibrant customs and symbolic heritage.

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The first stage of the Macedonian Orthodox wedding ceremony is the couple’s entry into the church, with the priest greeting them at the door. They are then led towards the alter where they will exchange rings. The rings are first blessed by the priest who, holding them in his right hand, gestures the sign of the cross over the heads of the couple. Once they have been blessed the rings are then slipped onto the ring finger of the bride and groom’s right hands.

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Some of the most important people within the Macedonian Orthodox ceremony are the Koumbaros. The Koumbaros are the couple’s religious sponsors and often go on to become the god-parents of the children. Once the rings have been placed on the hands of the couple the rings the Koumbaros exchange the rings between the couple. This is done three times.

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Next come the prayers, where the couple are given lit candles by the priest. They hold these candles in their left hands until the end of the ceremony. The candles will light the path of the couple’s wedded life together. Through prayer the priest joins the right hands of the bride and groom, tying them with a piece of cloth to symbolise their union. Their hands remain joined until the end of the service.

Perhaps the most famous part of the Macedonian Orthodox wedding ceremony is the crowning with the stefana. The crowns are symbols with deep historical significance. They symbolise the beginning of a new kingdom where the couple become responsible for ruling wisely and responsibly towards one another and God.

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The Stefana, traditionally, is made of a floral wreath or a genuine crown of gold, velvet and jewels. Today the Stefana can come in all shapes and sizes and brides often contemporary Stefana take the form of tiaras or the like. The Stefana are joined to one another by a ribbon, symbolising the couple’s union and the unwavering devotion that the bride and groom have for each other.

The priest will take the Stefana and make a cross over the couple, three times. Before they are placed on the heads of the couple, the bride and groom kiss their crowns. The Koumbaros then exchange the crowns between the couple’s heads three times.

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A story a from the Gospel is read then by the priest, of Jesus’ first miracle, before the couple sip wine from a chalice three times, symbolising the happiness and sorrows that they will share in their life together.

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Next is the ceremonial walk around the alter, where the priest leads the couple on their first steps as man and wife, followed by the Koumbaros. The newlyweds are then blessed by the priest before removing the Stefana from their heads. The priest then separates the hands of the couple using the Bible, showing that their union may be broken only by God.

Finally the newlyweds are congratulated by their Koumbaros, their best man and their parents, before joining their guests in celebration.

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The traditional Macedonian Orthodox wedding ceremony is a truly beautiful and moving event to witness. At Serendipity we just love the bringing together of rich cultural heritage and historical customs to celebrate such a momentous occasion. If you’re interested in holding your ceremony at one of Melbourne’s best Macedonian Orthodox churches follow this link to look at the wonderful St Ilija in Melbourne’s West! We also have a wonderful page on Macedonian Orthodox customs!

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