1) Scheduling: One of the first things you will need to do is contact the Parish Priest to determine an eligible date. There are certain times of the year when weddings are not normally permitted, such as fasts or on great feasts, when our attention is meant to be directed elsewhere. As for the time of the day, most times are permissible. The length of the service itself is approximately 45 minutes to one hour.
2) Pre-Marital Education: Long before the wedding day, a couple should have met with the Parish Priest or other designated catechist for pre-marital education. This may range from 2-3 meetings to longer depending on schedules and need.
3) Items to Bring: The service requires a pair of rings and candles. The parish does not supply elaborate candles for baptisms/weddings, so you may wish to purchase your own.
4) Crowns are provided by the church but many couples also purchase their own.
5) Decoration: Some couples wish to decorate the church with floral arrangements, bows, or use floor runners and flower petals during the service. As long as things are done tastefully and someone from your family/party is clearly assigned to cleaning it up, this is generally permitted.
6) Photography: Photographers and videographers are welcome but must observe the protocols set for them by the Parish Priest. Taking group photos after the service in the church is welcome and we encourage you to make sure you give it sufficient time in your schedule.
7) Rehearsals: A wedding rehearsal is recommended, especially for those who have never attended or “stood” as part of the wedding party in an Orthodox wedding service. You may have specific customs you wish to observe in entering the church or as part of the service and should be finalized at this time.
Requirements for a Baptism for Infants
1) Scheduling: Any time 40 days after birth are permitted for infant baptisms. In cases of an emergency, this requirement is waived and can be done immediately after birth if there is a concern. Otherwise, we recommend the child be between 3-6 months. The full baptismal service generally takes 45 minutes.
2) At least one Godparent/Sponsor who is an Orthodox Christian in good standing (having had a recent confession and communion). The Godparent’s main tasks are to speak on behalf of the child in the traditional dialogue rejecting Satan and confessing unity with Christ, reciting the Creed of the Orthodox Church, and to help carry the child through his/her first steps as a Christian.
3) Items to Bring: a towel and/or blanket, a baptismal cross, and a candle. Traditionally, these are supplied by the Godparent/Sponsor.
Requirements for an Adult Baptism / Chrismation / Reception of Converts
1) Scheduling: While an adult service of baptism or chrismation may be done on any day, we recommend that it take place on a day immediately preceding a liturgy, such as a Sunday morning.
2) At least one Godparent/Sponsor who is an Orthodox Christian in good standing (having had a recent confession and communion.) Their main task is to support you in your decision to be joined with Christ in the Orthodox Church. They should also prepare themselves by recently having had confession and communion.
3) Items to Bring: A Cross and a Candle (as above) are typically gifted by the sponsor. In the case of an Adult baptism, please bring appropriate towels.
4) What to Wear: Traditionally, white clothing is preferred for Chrismation. You may need to be anointed on your feet so please remove socks/stockings before the service. In the case of Baptism, you may wait to don the white until after the baptism proper. Men should wear modest, white swim trunks/shorts and a white shirt. Women should wear a white swimsuit with a loose white gown over that. You will be immersed in a large font and will need to dry off immediately afterwards in a side room, so have your dry white clothes/dress ready with extra towels there.
1) At the Hour of Death: The Church provides a series of services on behalf of the departed. If possible, this begins with the prayers for the newly departed at the time of death itself, either at home or the hospital. If death is imminent, please do not hesitate to call the Parish Priest at any hour.
2) Burial: The Orthodox Christian method of interment is through burial, not cremation.
3) Headstones/Monuments for Orthodox Christians are traditionally in the form of a Cross, or have a Cross clearly engraved upon them.
4) The Wake Service The evening before the funeral during visitation there is a special memorial known as the Wake, which takes approximately 20-30 minutes, and is usually held toward the end of the evening’s visitation period, either at church or funeral home.
5) The Funeral: The funeral service is usually held in the morning of the day of the interment but this may not always be so. The departed is brought in the casket/coffin to the church and placed before the altar facing it. The service entails prayers for the forgiveness of their sins, meditation on the meaning of life and death, and proclamation of hope in the resurrection—which celebrates their eternal life in Christ. The end of the service includes an opportunity for “the final kiss” in which each person present may personally say farewell to their departed brother/sister in Christ. The casket is then closed and carried solemnly to the hearse and hence to the place of burial. The funeral service in the church runs approximately 45 minutes to one hour. Families may also request a Liturgy to be served prior to the funeral service (1 hour).
6) Mercy/Memorial Meal Orthodox Christians traditionally hold a memorial meal after the funeral as an offering in memory of their beloved departed.
7) Post-Funeral Memorials: At various times after an Orthodox Christian departs this life, it is desirable to remember them in prayer. For the first forty days after death they are remembered by name in the Liturgy, and on the 40th day a special memorial is served. Different customs are observed across Orthodox countries. A similar service is also served typically on the 6 month and one year anniversary. Families may wish to hold these memorials on continuing anniversaries as well. These occasions, starting with the 40 day memorial, are also good times to offer memorial meals as well.