For the sacramental union of a man and a woman to be proper in the eyes of the church, the marriage must be performed in the Orthodox Church. For such a marriage to be valid, the following must be in place:
Days When Marriage Ceremonies Are Not Permitted
Marriages may be performed on these days if absolutely necessary and for reasons of urgent importance only with special dispensation from the diocesan hierarch.
It is a fact that more things which the proposed couple have in common, particularly their common faith and spiritual life, the more likely it will be that they live their married life in sacramental grace, peace and harmony. Shared faith and traditions spare newlyweds and their children many serious problems and strengthen the bond between them. However, Orthodoxy does solemnize mixed marriages under the following conditions:
If these conditions are not met, the pastor is not free to solemnize the marriage. If the Orthodox party enters an attempted marriage in a non-Orthodox setting, the marriage is not valid in the eyes of the Church. The Orthodox party must then bear in mind that a married Orthodox Christian, whose marriage has not been solemnized in the Orthodox Church, is no longer in good standing with the Church and consequently does not have the right to receive the Sacraments of the Church or to be eligible to become a witness or sponsor at another marriage, baptism or Chrismation. They are also excluded from Orthodox burial unless they repent and return to the unity of the Church. An Orthodox Christian who has attempted marriage outside of Orthodoxy and wishes to be reconciled with the Church is encouraged to request such from the local Orthodox priest so that the necessary remedies might be applied and integration into the salutary life of the Church take place.
A non-Orthodox Christian who marries an Orthodox Christian does not automatically become a member of the Church and is therefore not admitted to the sacraments, particularly the Holy Eucharist.
Prohibited Marriages Among Believers
Marriage Celebration Outside The Parish Church
Heterodox chapels, seminary chapels, college chapels – all need the express approval of the diocesan hierarch to be used as a location for a marriage celebration. Circumstances will be taken into consideration before a blessing is bestowed. It should also be remembered that the holy temple (Orthodox church building) is the normal location for the wedding. The Sacrament of Marriage cannot be celebrated in a garden, poolside, parks, in vehicles of public transportation, etc.
Divorce, Annulment Of Marriage
An ecclesiastical annulment (or Decree of Spiritual Death) may be granted only after a civil decree has been obtained. However, the spiritual father or parish pastor must exert every effort to reconcile the couple and avert a divorce, if this is spiritually and humanly possible. Should the pastor fail to effect reconciliation, he will undergo the necessary direction and assist the party or parties in seeking an ecclesiastical annulment of the marriage. Full particulars may be obtained by writing to the diocesan Chancellery Office. No priest is free to solemnize a marriage, even if a need is apparent, before the necessary decrees are issued by the bishop. No date of a proposed marriage may be set until such decree is obtained.
Both sponsors for a baptized Orthodox child should be Orthodox. Though it is difficult to imagine why faithful Orthodox parents would think of asking a non-Orthodox party to sponsor their child for this sacrament, our pluralistic society makes many demands upon us. However, at least one of the sponsors at Baptism and Chrismation must be Orthodox. A person who has been excommunicated or anathematized by the Church; or who, if married, has married outside the Orthodox Church, may not become a godparent. People living together in a common law relationship may not serve as godparents.
Sponsors In Non-Orthodox Churches
Roman Catholic and Byzantine Catholic Churches require at least one sponsor at Baptism who is of their faith. Many times our faithful are asked to sponsor a child in their church. We cannot encourage our faithful to become sponsors for other communions, because of the theological variance, which exists between our churches. Orthodox believers should simply respond when called upon that our Orthodox Church does not permit our participation in the faith practices of other churches.
Requiem Liturgy and Funeral Services are permitted any day of the year, except on Sundays, unless it is most urgent and absolutely necessary while specific permission is secured from the bishop.
Requiem Services may not be held on the following days:
It is highly recommended that Orthodox Christians offer and request memorials and liturgies for the souls of their beloved departed and participate in the universal remembrance of departed souls on the five Soul Saturdays.