Orthodox Wedding Crown
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
- · The
Readings from the Bible
- · The
Drinking of the Common Cup
- · The
Lastly, the Proclamation of Husband & Wife.
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
The exchange of the
crowns then follows.
Exchange of Crowns
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
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
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
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.
Stefanothiki are crown cases. Crowns
are traditionally kept in a crown case – or stefanothikes – to preserve their
beauty and as a visual reminder of the sacrament of the wedding day. They may
be hung in a couple’s living room, hallway, or bedroom – or wherever the
married couple chooses.
buys the crowns?
The Koumbaro (sometimes phonetically spelled “goumbaro” or
“goumbara” usually purchases:
stefana / wedding crowns
wedding tray – which is placed at the altar table and the wedding crowns
lie on tope.
stefana case to store the wedding crowns (optional as a gift)
wedding candles for the couple (although sometimes purchased by the
The wedding couple or the brides’ side of the family
usually pays for:
jordan almond/boubouniera favors.
/ witness pins
reception after the baptism.
gratuities to the priest or any charge for use of a church facility
Can the wedding crowns be passed on to children or
Out of sentiment, some
like to pass their beloved stefana on to their children or another special
family member or friend. This is a
perfectly acceptable practice: the church allows for the use of a crown that
has been used before.
What style of crowns is typical?
There is no standard
style that is used for the crowns. Some
prefer metals, some prefer crystals, some prefer pearls, some prefer porcelain
flowers, and some fabrics. Crown styles
used in the Greek Orthodox service vary widely – it is truly up to the
preference of the bride and groom.
Crown styles used in the Russian Orthodox church and Antiochian church tend
to a more metal based selection. The
best selection for the couple is a style they want to view in their home for
the years to come.
What is the proper way to dispose of Stefana?
Stephana should not be
thrown out. There are two ways that you can properly dispose of stefana:
stefana may be either burned or they may be buried. Traditionally they are
buried in the event when a spouse of the marriage has passed and they are laid
to rest in the coffin with the departed spouse member.
They are burned in the
event of a divorce, annulment, a death with no burial, or as an alternative to
burying as a proper way to dispose of the stefana.
Is there a custom of burying the
wedding crown(s) when someone dies?
While not a custom born from the
scriptures, some Orthodox Christians observe a social custom of burying
stephana with the deceased. This custom is an optional social custom and is not
based on Holy Scripture. The marriage crowns can either be buried with the
first or the second departing of the spousal couple. Or the stephana can be cut
at the middle of the ribbon and be buried one crown with each of the spouses.
if the Groom’s head is too big for the crown?
This is a popular concern – but not
one to worry too much about. The crowns do not need to fit over the head – just
lay on top of the head. While Blessed Celebration can custom make some of our
crown designs to a specific size, we discourage people from requesting larger
sized crowns. The reason is because the crowns need to lay on top of both the
bride and grooms head. If one has a head that is quite larger and a crown is
made to fit this head, then it will fall when laying on the smaller head during
the exchange of crowns. If a crown is too large for a head, it will be a real
problem during the service. If it is too small, it will not be a problem, the
crown would just rest higher on the head.
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