Expectations of the Koumbaro or Koumbara

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Before you determine if you should accept a request to be Koumbara or Koumbaro at a Greek Orthodox wedding, it helps to know what is expected. This is a great honor and usually indicates that the person who asked you has a special relationship with you. However, with this honor comes a certain amount of responsibility. This article will help you decide if you should accept.

What are the requirements to be a Koumbaro or Koumbara?

In the Greek Orthodox Church, the Koumbaro(a) is the official sponsor for the wedding. This means that he or she has to be a Greek Orthodox Christian in good standing. Tradition also states that the godparents of the groom and then the bride should be asked first. However, people often depart from tradition to select a close friend or sibling. Please consult with your priest for more information. Your Orthodox priest will provide you with a Letter of Good Standing as proof.

How do I become a Greek Orthodox Christian in good standing?

If you are an active member of your Orthodox Christian Church, it is likely that you won’t have to worry about this. However, your priest can guide you as to what it means in your specific case. Generally, “good standing” indicates that you are current with your financial pledge to your chosen Orthodox Church and also that you abide by the canonical rules put forth by the church. If you are able to participate in the sacraments of the church, you are in good standing from a canonical perspective.

What is expected during the wedding ceremony?

The Koumbaro or Koumbara does play an important role during the marriage ceremony because their role absolutely needs to be performed by an Orthodox Christian in good standing. He or she is responsible for exchanging the wedding crowns, or Stefana, three times during the ceremony. In addition, the sponsor also performs the ring exchange.

What does the Koumbaro or Koumbara need to pay for?

In order to successfully perform the wedding ceremony, the priest needs certain items. It is up to the sponsor to provide these items. Though they aren’t overly expensive, the cost can add up. These items include the Stefana (wedding crowns), the silver tray on which to put the Stefana, two candles, and the gratuities for the priest and chanter.

This is above and beyond any other financial responsibilities that may arise. This includes paying for your outfit that will be worn during the ceremony and any expense you may incur to attend the ceremony itself. If you will also be the Best Man or Maid of Honor, you may also need to help organize and pay for the likes of a bachelor or bachelorette party.

So, if the bride or groom has asked you to be the Koumbaro or Koumbara, it is most certainly an honor. However, there are certain commitments that are attached to this role. Understanding what the role entails can certainly help you make a decision as to whether or not you will accept.

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This post was written by Greek Boston

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