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THE CHRISTIAN WEDDING PROCESS

Orthodox Christian Weddings

Exchange of Rings

Most Orthodox wedding ceremonies follow a specific outline which starts with the Rite of Betrothal. Here, rings are exchanged between the bride and the groom as a sign of their commitment and devotion to one another.

The next custom, which may vary in each parish, is the ‘crowning’, where 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, a powerful reminder of ‘give’ and ‘take’ between two people. The ‘crowning also signifies that in certain respects, the bride and groom are becoming the ‘king and queen’ of their own family or ‘kingdom.’ This is an integral part of the Kingdom of God.

Shared Wine

The bride and groom will then share a common cup of wine. This tradition signifies that in marriage, all things are shared equally. This cup also signifies a life of harmony in which there is a mutual sharing of joy and sorrow.

The priest will then lead the procession around the sacramental table, where the bride and groom will walk around the table three times, as they take their first steps together as husband and wife. This circular procession also reminds the couple of the eternity of marriage, at the center of which is Christ Himself.

The crowns are then removed, and the final blessings are done, including blessings from friends and family who wish the couple many years of blessings and happiness together.

Baptism

In the Orthodox ritual, there are no vows, which are often found in other confessions. In addition, if you have never been baptized, it is also best to speak directly with the priest to establish if you will need to take part in this tradition.

Orthodox Christians may be married in an Orthodox ceremony to a non-Orthodox Christian provided the non-Orthodox party has been baptized with water and “in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” Orthodox Christians may, however, not be married in an Orthodox ceremony to non-baptized individuals. Baptisms can be arranged in Israel at the Jordan River, the site where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.

Once the Orthodox wedding ceremony is completed, you can then celebrate your unity with friends and family in a romantic and elegant reception located in a beautiful setting in the magical land of Israel.

Protestant Christian Weddings

Every protestant denomination has its own way of celebrating a wedding ceremony. This being said, some protestant denominations have more liberal interpretations of the wedding service compared to others and are more accommodating of the inclusion of elements that are not traditionally Christian in nature.

Among the most popular forms of protestant Christian weddings held in Israel is the one that has been adapted from the ceremony outlined in The Book of Common Prayer. This ceremony’s origins can be traced back to the Church of England back in the 16th Century. However, this is just one of the many possible versions of a protestant Christian wedding service and we will arrange to tailor your ceremony based on your preferences.

Arrival of the Wedding Party and Introductory Prayer

The guests arrive at the church, followed shortly by the groom and groomsmen. After everyone has arrived, they then rise from their seats to welcome the bride, who walks in accompanied by her father who leads her toward the altar where the groom stands waiting. The introductory prayer then follows, with the celebrant, facing the congregation and the couple, addressing and welcoming guests to witness the celebration.

The Interrogation

At this point, the celebrant brings the couple together to be joined and asks if there is anyone who has just cause for them to be wed, including the bride and groom. If there is no objection raised to the wedding, the celebrant asks the couple if they are both in agreement with their decision to get married.

Vows and Exchange of Rings

After the interrogation, the groom takes his bride’s right hand in his and vows that from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, he will love her and cherish her until death renders them apart. A similar vow is then repeated by the bride.

The groom’s best man, who is tasked with holding the rings, is then asked by the celebrant to produce them. The celebrant then proclaims God’s blessings on the wedding bands and then offers one to the groom, who places it on the bride’s left-hand ring finger. The bride also receives a ring which she places on the groom’s left-hand ring finger.

The celebrant then joins the couple’s right hands together, acknowledging the vows they have made to each other.

Unity Candles

After the vows and ring exchange, a unity candle may be lit by the bride and groom as a symbol of their marriage. Parents may also join in the fun and light a candle to represent the combining of the couple’s families.

After reciting the lord’s prayer as well as a final prayer with the congregation, the then kneeling couple stand up and the celebrant declares that the groom may now kiss his bride.

At this point, the wedding service ends, with the family and friends leaving after the newlyweds to later join them at a reception celebration.

Baptism in the Jordan River

The guests arrive at the church, followed shortly by the groom and groomsmen. After everyone has arrived, they then rise from their seats to welcome the bride, who walks in accompanied by her father who leads her toward the altar where the groom stands waiting. The introductory prayer then follows, with the celebrant, facing the congregation and the couple, addressing and welcoming guests to witness the celebration.

Seasons

The spring and summer are the best times that we recommend that you visit the site. This is because between May and October, there is great weather for baptism ceremonies. With regard to days of the week, Saturday tends to be crowded, so Sunday to Thursday are probably the best days to hold a private ceremony. Despite this, Stein Shani Event Productions will make the necessary arrangements irrespective of the day of the week you select.

One thing to note is that there is no priest or pastor resident at the river baptismal site, so you will need to contact us to organize one in advance with due regard to your denomination and personal needs. A major plus point is that most pastors will conduct the baptism ceremony at no charge, but we suggest that you consider making a small donation as a matter of courtesy.

Wedding Document Requirements

In order to celebrate a Christian wedding in Israel, you will be required to provide various documentation. The required documents may vary based on your religious denomination and the requirements of the church, however, we will advise the exact documents you will require once we have detailed information of your wedding ceremony.

The following documents may be required:

  • Passport copies of both the bride and groom (Certified photo copy of original)
  • Baptism records of both parties, if applicable
  • Full birth certificate of bride and groom, with both parents’ names inside, certified by an Apostille stamp
  • Certificate letter from your church of non-previous marriage, officially certified by the bishop of area of residence. Also, we need to have in writing that you are free to have a wedding in Israel
  • Certificate of non-impediment to marriage from the municipality, where you are registered, or county office, or Town hall, certified by Apostille stamp
  • If one or both parties has been previous marriages, you need to get a Divorce Certificate, or a certified copy of the Decree Absolute, from Civil and Church Authorities, certified by an Apostille stamp
  • Official document from the Court, if you have had a name change