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Orthodox Wedding Crown
Ornate Set of Two
Brass Construction with jewels and an adjustable headband.
The Crowning of the Couple
Stefana are used for The Crowning of the couple. This is a sacrament unique to the Orthodox ceremony and an integral part of the wedding service. The sacrament of marriage in the Eastern Orthodox Church joins two believers into one. The Sacrament of Marriage consists of:
· The Exchange of Rings
· The lighting of the Candles
· The Crowning
· The Readings from the Bible
· The Drinking of the Common Cup
· The Ceremonial Walk
· Lastly, the Proclamation of Husband & Wife.
Symbolism of the Crowns
The wedding crowns (Stéfana) are the signs of glory and honor with which God crowns the Bride and Groom during the sacrament. The Bride and Groom are crowned as king and queen of their home, which they will rule with wisdom, justice, and integrity. They represent the couple’s giving of one life totally to the other and through the other to Christ. The ribbon, which joins the two crowns, symbolizes unity. At the end of the wedding service, the crowns are removed from the couple and the priest prays that God will receive these crowns into His Kingdom.
The Blessing of the Crowns
The Crowning sacrament takes place after the exchanging of the rings. During the crowning ceremony, the priest will exchange the crowns between the bride and groom. The prayer said by the Priest is:
“The servant of God is crowned unto the handmaiden of God – in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
This prayer is said three times by the Priest when the crown is initially placed on the Groom’s head and three times when the crown is initially placed on the Bride’s head.
The exchange of the crowns then follows.
After the priest places the Stéfana on the heads of the Bride and Groom, the Koumbaro exchanges the crowns three times as witness to the sealing of the union. . While the exchange is happening, the priest chants “O Lord, our God, crown them with glory and honor”.
The crown swapping begins with the koumbaro/a (the Orthodox sponsor) behind the bride and groom - and the koumbaro/a places the crowns three times on the head before the procession around the altar. The bride is at left, the groom at right.
PLACEMENT #1: The koumbaro holds the crowns in his or her hand and crosses his hands, RIGHT hand over the left , and then places the crowns on the heads of the bride and groom.
PLACEMENT #2: The koumbaro lifts the crowns off the head and then switches the crowns in his hand by uncrossing his hands, RIGHT hand back over the left and then around under the left hand. The arms end up crossed and the same crown goes back onto the brides head, and the same crown back onto the groom's head.
PLACEMENT #3: For the third switch, the koumbaro will move his right hand back under the right and then around over again the left hand.
The order is specific and symbolic - the right hand leads over the left on the first switch/placement - just as the right hand leads with all religious ceremonies. Generally the crowns are interchangeable or identical. If the crowns are specific for the bride and groom, then the groom’s crown starts on the bride and the bride’s crown starts on the groom. That way after the exchange, they are resting groom’s crown on the groom’s head and bride’s crown on the bride’s head. They wear the crowns this way for the remainder of the ceremony and as they circle the altar.
After the Exchange of Crowns
After the exchange of the crowns, is the reading of the Epistle followed by the Gospel. The Gospel reading describes the marriage at Cana in Galilee, which was attended and blessed by Christ and for which He performed His miracle: converting water into wine – which is the wine symbolized in the Common Cup. The couple then drinks from the Common Cup, all while wearing the crowns. The crowned couple proceeds around the altar table three times. The priest leads the couple. The koumbaro/koumbara (sponsor) follow the couple around as well holding the ribbon of the crowns.