St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral, Ottawa

Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

Weddings

If you have recently been engaged, congratulations!

We at St. Elias Cathedral rejoice in the love that you as a couple share with one another. Your decision to be married in the Church is an indication that the Christian faith and the sacramental life of the Church are important to you. In the eyes of the Church, marriage is a sacramental act which unites the man and the woman in their love to our Lord Jesus Christ. The two “become one flesh.”

Marriage does not take place in a spiritual vacuum. For this reason, for a couple to be married at St. Elias Cathedral, at least one member of the couple must be an Orthodox Christian in good standing with the Church. The other person, while not necessarily required to be Orthodox, must be a validly-baptized Christian in good standing with his or her church. An Orthodox Christian is not permitted to marry a non-Christian/non-baptized person. If one member of the couple has a previous divorce in their past, this is not an obstacle to remarriage, but they must first speak with the priest in order to take the appropriate measures to be reinstated into the sacramental life of the Church.

weddings

For those planning weddings at St. Elias Cathedral, the following requirements must be met:

1. The Orthodox wedding service is not simply a social “contract” between the man and the woman.  Rather, it is a complete joining of the husband and wife together in Christ.  Our Lord Jesus Christ is the bond which unites the man and woman in the communion of marriage.  Therefore, the sacrament of Marriage presupposes that the couple are already living a dedicated life in the Church, and will continue to do so after marriage.

2. Weddings should be booked at least 6 months in advance; 1 year in advance is preferrable.  Please reserve the church BEFORE reserving the reception hall.  We do not take wedding reservations over the phone; the couple must make an appointment to speak with the priest before the wedding date will be confirmed.

3.  There are certain days when weddings CANNOT take place.  These include:  Wednesdays and Fridays, Great Feasts of the Church, during the Christmas Fast (Nov. 15 – Dec. 25), during Great Lent (including the period from Meatfare Sunday to Thomas Sunday), and during the Dormition Fast (Aug. 1-15).

4.  If either member of the couple was previously married & divorced, they must first be reinstated by the Metropolitan Archbishop to the sacramental life of the Church before proceeding with the wedding; this process can be initiated by speaking with Fr. Ghattas.

5.  At least one member of the couple must be an Orthodox Christian; the other must at least be a Christian (i.e. Catholic.)  Weddings between Orthodox and non-Christians are not permitted.  All members of the wedding party must be Christian.

6.  The couple must attend at least 2 sessions of pre-marital counseling with the priest in the months prior to the wedding.

7.  The couple must receive confession and communion at their respective churches prior to the wedding.

8.  The couple is to return to the Cathedral on the nearest Sunday following their honeymoon for the service of the Removal of the Crowns.

Setting the Date

BEFORE making any other reservations (reception hall, etc…) the couple must first contact the Church Office (613-738-2222) in order to set the date of the wedding. Please keep in mind that there are certain dates on which weddings are not permitted to take place, including the following:

  • December 13-25 (The Advent and Christmas season)
  • January 5-6 (Epiphany)
  • February 2 (the Presentation of the Lord to the Temple)
  • Great Lent and Holy Week (usually mid-February, the entire month of March and part of April)
  • August 1-15 (the fast of the Theotokos)
  • August 29 (the beheading of John the Baptist)
  • September 14 (the Exaltation of the Cross)
  • The Ascension
  • Pentecost

Please keep in mind that the wedding must be celebrated in the church building itself and not in any other venue.

Pre-Marital Counseling

Stastics show that couples who prepare for marriage through counseling have a higher rate of success and longevity in their marriages. For this reason, all couples being married at St. Elias Cathedral must attend three one-hour sessions of pre-marital counseling with the priest. During these sessions, the priest will help you understand the nature of marriage in the Church, assist you in finding ways to improve communication in various aspects of married life, and identify areas of concern that need to be addressed. Please call the church office to arrange these meetings after confirming your wedding date.

Visiting Clergy

Guest clergy, in communion with the Orthodox Church, may participate in a wedding at St. Elias Cathedral. Canonically, it is the responsibility of the priest where the wedding is taking place to extend an invitation to any and all visiting clergy. Orthodox Christian clergymen in communion with the Church are welcome to participate in the celebration of sacraments at St. Elias Cathedral with the blessings of our priest. Please speak with Fr. Ghattas or Fr. Nektarios prior to inviting any clergyman to the service.

Non-Orthodox clergymen from other Christian communities may not take part in the celebration of the sacrament of marriage per se. It is the official policy of our Archdiocese that clergy from other Christian confessions may be acknowledged at the conclusion of the wedding service and invited forward to the solea where they may offer a prayer and briefly address the couple.

Necessary Papers & Documents

If a member of the couple is not a member of St. Elias Cathedral, they must present a certificate of baptism to us from their church organization. In addition, in the weeks prior to the wedding, any non-Orthodox member of a couple must receive confession and communion at their respective church, and obtain a letter from their priest/pastor stating that they are in good standing with their church. Orthodox members of the couple must receive confession and communion at the Cathedral in the weeks prior to the marriage.

Within 90 days of the wedding, the couple MUST obtain a civil marriage license from the Province of Ontario. The wedding cannot take place without this document.

The Wedding Party

Because the members of the wedding party participate publically in the prayers of the wedding ceremony, all members must be Christians in good standing with their churches. Ideally, the best man and maid-of-honour, as acting witnesses of the marriage, should be Orthodox Christians in good standing with the Church.

Music

Appropriate music may be played as accompaniment to the processional/recessional. Any selections must be pre-approved by the priest. During the service itself, no music other than that already prescribed in the service is permitted.

Photography/Videography

Photographs of your wedding are permitted but should not in any way impede or distract from the celebration of the sacrament. Photographers should be quiet and respectful; the use of a flash is allowed. If you are planning on professional photography and videography, please ask that your photographer arrive early at the Church so that guidelines can be laid out. Also, please ask guests to be respectful of the professional’s space, for your benefit.

A Note to the Bride & Groom

To those spouses who are Orthodox: there is no substitute for Jesus Christ in maintaining the dignity and sanctity of the marriage bond. For the celebration of your marriage in the Church to be real, you must live out, in subsequent years, the Christian commitment that you will make on the day of your wedding. To those spouses who are not Orthodox: you are always welcome here at St. Elias Cathedral. Please note that your marriage in the Church does not automatically grant you membership in the Orthodox Church. If you desire to become an Orthodox Christian this must be your decision, made after much prayer and thought, in consultation with the parish priest, and never for the sake of convenience. To both of you: the Lord and this parish are here to help, support and sustain you in your marriage bond and the life of faith to which we are called as Christians. May the Lord grant you both many years together in peace and oneness of mind and heart.

If you have any questions regarding weddings at St. Elias Cathedral, please call the Cathedral Office at 613-738-2222 or send an email to info@steliascathedral.com. Any decisions about unusual circumstances regarding these services are subject to the discretion of the Pastor, Fr. Ghattas.