The Service of Engagement
The Engagement Service in the Greek Eastern Orthodox Christian Church
Ο Αρραβώνας της Ελληνικής Εκκλησίας
The Eastern Orthodox Sacrament of Marriage is an ancient rite full of profound symbolism and meaning. There are numerous references found in the Old & New Testament, reminders of Christ’s first Miracle at the Wedding of Cana in Galilee, and a constant blessing by God onto the couple. The couple is led through the ceremony by their Priest and their koumbaroi, who are spiritual and moral guides to the couple throughout their lives.
Betrothal or Engagement Ceremony:
The traditions of the Engagement Service differ depending on which region of Greece, Europe, and even the United States the betrothed are raised. From a Sacramental perspective, the formal engagement and the blessing of both rings of the couple takes place in the Church as a pre-service to the Sacrament of Marriage.
There are various traditions celebrating the engagement of a couple. Dating as far back as the Byzantine Empire, if a couple was intending to be married or they were arranged, the families would meet to discuss a dowry and the plans to celebrate a wedding. This custom still exists today. At this gathering the Blessing of Engagement, (Ο Αρραβώνας, Aravona) would take place. The priest blesses at least one ring, given to the bride, and the couple hears the Prayer of the Blessing of the Rings. This prayer will be read again during the formal Sacrament, comparing the couple to the Righteous Couples of the Old and New Testament.
The couple and their families plan their wedding, and in some early examples, would be as early as a week or so later. Preparations for the Sacrament, the celebrations, and most importantly the spiritual state of the couple would be planned.