GUIDELINES FOR THE WEDDING CEREMONY
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- NO MARRIAGE CAN BE SOLEMNIZED OUTSIDE OF THE HOLY SANCTUARY. THE SACRAMENT TAKES PLACE IN THE CHURCH SANCTUARY BETWEEN A MAN AND A WOMAN, BY THE BLESSING OF THE PRIEST.
A. Both the prospective bridegroom and the bride must have received the Sacraments of Baptism and Chrismation (Confirmation). If there is a question in this regard, the pastor must be consulted. If either party is not a member of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church, proper documentation of their Baptism (Baptism Certificate) must be presented to the pastor by the first meeting.
B. If either party has been divorced, a dispensation to celebrate the Sacrament must be granted by the Diocesan Bishop of the Armenian Church in accordance with the Canon Law of the Armenian Church. Documentation of the divorce decree (a good photocopy) must be provided to the pastor. The Roman Catholic party should also seek an annulment of their prior marriage if they are to be able to remain in communion with their church.
C. No ceremony can be celebrated if it is the intention that a second religious service in another church is to be held.
- WEDDING DATE
A. Arrangements for a marriage to be blessed in the church are to be made at least four months in advance.
B. A date shall be set for the solemnization of the Sacrament of Holy Crowning into Marriage.
C. Finalizing the date for the ceremony must be secured in joint consultation with the Pastor.
D. When all necessary papers are filed, then the chosen date will be confirmed.
E. Failure to submit the requested documents will forfeit the date chosen.
- WHEN WEDDINGS CANNOT TAKE PLACE
A. By canon law, no marriage may take place after 4:30pm on Saturday afternoons and before 4:30pm on Sunday afternoons.
B. No marriages may take place at any time during the period of Great Lent (including the first Sunday of Great Lent, Poon Paregentan) and Holy Week, nor on the Feast Days of Easter, Theophany (Armenian Christmas), Transfiguration, Assumption, and Exaltation of the Holy Cross, nor on any Saturday preceding the aforementioned Feast Days and the eight days following Easter through New Sunday (the Sunday following Easter). Also, no weddings may be celebrated on January 13 (The Naming of our Lord Jesus Christ;), February 14 (The Presentation of the Lord to the Temple), April 7 (The Annunciation to the Virgin Mary), and Ascension.
- MARRIAGE PREPARATION
A. After securing the desired date and time of the wedding ceremony, the couple shall set up an initial meeting with the pastor for premarital instruction and preparation.
B. The proper instructions regarding a Christian marriage is a necessary component of marriage preparations. It is, therefore, expected that the couple will meet with the pastor as often as necessary. During these meetings topics relative to their new life together as Christians and members of the Armenian Church family will be addressed.
- LOCAL LAWS
A. All marriages are to follow the canon laws of the Armenian Church and the laws of the State of Ohio. It is the responsibility of the parties to carry out the requirements of the legal authorities by applying for a proper marriage license and presenting these documents to the church office ten (10) days prior to the wedding ceremony.
- THE BEST MAN
The major Sacramental witness of the wedding ceremony is the Brother in the Cross/Khach Yeghpayr, who is likewise the Best Man. He will hold a hand cross over the heads of the couple during a portion of the religious right. This privilege of honor is allowed provided he himself is a baptized member of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church which is offering the blessing upon this couple. If there is a situation where a non-Armenian Church member is requested to assume the role of Best Man, this is allowed provided that another male witness in the wedding party, who is himself a baptized member of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church, can participate as the Khach Yeghpayr. The pastor is to be informed if this situation applies. The Maid/Matron of Honor must also be a Christian. These two/three individuals will join the bride and groom at the holy altar. All other attendants will take their places in the front pews.
- THE REHEARSAL
A. The date and time for the wedding ceremony rehearsal will be determined by the pastor in consultation with the bride and groom to be.
B. The pastor or his designated representative shall have complete charge of the rehearsal.
C. Only members of the wedding party and immediate family need to attend the rehearsal.
D. It is the responsibility of the couple to determine the order of the procession.
E. It is strongly recommended that a facilitator/prompter who is not a member of the wedding party be assigned to coordinate the procession on the day of the wedding so that everything will flow smoothly. He/she should attend the wedding rehearsal and will be given a script of the procedures for the ceremony by the pastor.
F. It is essential that all participants in the wedding rehearsal arrive at the church at least 15 minutes prior to the time set for the rehearsal so that it will begin on time.
G. If you are later than 15 minutes beyond the scheduled time of the wedding rehearsal, we cannot assure that the rehearsal will take place. You will then be responsible for your own arrangements. PLEASE BE PROMPT!
- DECORATION OF THE SANCTUARY
A. Requests for adorning the church with flowers, lighting, and other appointments must be approved by the pastor.
B. No furniture or furnishings of the church may be removed from their respective places.
C. Flowers may be placed on the altar table, the floor of the bema (upper sanctuary) and in the chancel, with the exception of the steps leading up to the altar.
D. Fixtures such as podiums and stands are allowed but should be placed so as not to obscure the view of the altar from the congregation. The pastor should be informed of such props.
E. If flowers are to be taken, the floral arrangements are not to be removed from the altar by any persons other than those designated by the pastor.
F. No decorations shall be nailed or screwed to the furnishings nor attached in any way that would damage the church furniture.
G. The wedding runner/white carpet can be acquired from the florist.
H. Decorations which do not comply with the above will be removed prior to the service.
- PHOTOGRAPHY AND SOUND RECORDING
Photography and sound recording are allowed within limitations. Still photographers and videographers should exercise caution and maintain decorum during the actual celebration of the sacramental rite. Most importantly, caution should be used by the photographer not to blind the eyes of the Priest, Deacon or any other participant. At no time and nor for any reason the photographer can stand on the steps of the Altar or be at the Altar itself.
- ADDITIONAL MUSIC
All requests for additional music before the ceremony must be approved by the pastor in advance. If there is a desire to enhance the pre-wedding preludes with individual performers or instrumental groups, the pastor must be appraised, after which he will determine the approval.
Ushering and any necessary control of traffic shall be arranged by the bride and groom.
- CLERGY/GUEST CLERGY
A. The pastor will officially invite guest clergy participants by letter.
B. If the guest priest is a member of the Armenian Church he may be invited to perform the service.
C. If a priest of a different religious tradition to be invited, the Pastor will assign to him those portions he sees fit according to the Canons and traditions of the Armenian Church; and, it should be clear that any priest of a different denomination is an invited guest and not a con-celebrant.
D. If the clergy are to be invited to the reception, an invitation should be sent to them.
E. It is the responsibility of the bride and groom to provide an invitation to the wedding reception and directions as well as any necessary travel and lodging expenses for the guest clergy assisting the celebrant.
All services in the Armenian Church are FREE. If families want to make a donation it is according to the individual wishes of the family.
- The gift for the services of a visiting or guest priest is according to the individual wishes of the family plus travel expenses. In the event that a visiting clergyman is also engaged in a parish-related event or ceremony, the travel expenses shall be split into two with St. Gregory of Narek Armenian Church paying the other half. A wedding is a public service of the Church, and no one may be excluded from the Church by any means.