Why Greek Weddings Are Rarely Outside the Church

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Have you ever noticed that most Greek weddings are inside the church? Outdoor weddings are rare in the Orthodox Church for a very good reason – the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony needs to take place at a sanctified altar in a consecrated church. Most of these are indoors, however there are some exceptions. It is possible to have an outdoor wedding. However, it is only possible under certain conditions.

Consecrating a Church

When a new church is built, it needs to be consecrated. This takes place during a special service that involves the bishop. During this ceremony, an outdoor altar is often sanctified along with the rest of the church. In even less common instances, the chapel itself is completely outdoors. If you desire an outdoor wedding, these are your only options – to have your ceremony at an outdoor altar that has been sanctified, or to find a consecrated church that is completely outdoors.

Having a Wedding Outdoors

If you decide that you want an outdoor wedding, it is possible. However, a Greek Orthodox priest won’t perform the ceremony unless the space has been consecrated. So, you’ll simply need to work with your priest to figure out what your options are. Some priests may even try to tell you that it isn’t possible. That’s not quite true – it is possible, it can just be difficult to figure out what your options are. Here are some tips:

  • Find an outdoor Orthodox church. Yes, they do exist. It just may take a little while to find them. In the United States, they are often associated with outdoor Orthodox retreat centers.
  • Outdoor sanctified altar. It can be difficult to find a church that has a sanctified altar. Your best bet is to call each church in your area individually or to ask for recommendations from your diocese.
  • Have a partial outdoor ceremony. If you are unable to find a suitable outdoor option, you may be able to convince your priest to have part of the ceremony outdoors.

Special Considerations

Is it your dream to have your wedding in a beautiful, exotic location? Well, for Orthodox Christians, this is extremely challenging unless you’re able to find an Orthodox Church where you desire the wedding. If you want to have a wedding outside, you will have an even greater challenge of finding a sanctified altar.

What if you’ve tried and you can’t find an acceptable way to have your wedding outside? Well, all hope isn’t completely lost. You may want to consider having your ceremony indoors and your reception outside. This is still a great way to celebrate your union without violating the rules of the church.

Did you know that in Greece, it’s actually a requirement to have a civil ceremony in addition to the church ceremony? In the United States, this step isn’t required. So, if you get married in Greece, it is possible to have the civil portion of your wedding outdoors, while the church ceremony will occur later on.

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This post was written by Greek Boston

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