The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony or marriage is the consecration of the union between a man and a woman for life in lawful marriage. By mutual accord of the man and the woman, they are united together with a spiritual bond to each other and to the Church.
By His attendance at the wedding of Cana in Galilee, Our Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated to us His approval of the sanctity of marriage. He gave us laws concerning marriage, which are recorded in Matthew 19:3-12. The doctrine of the sacrament of marriage is based on Ephesians 5:22-33 which is read during the service as the main lesson.
The purpose of marriage is very sacred. In Matrimony, a man and his wife are called to take part in the work of the Creator. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4
Marriage is also instituted for the mutual support of man and woman. “Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Genesis 2:18
As the ceremony begins the Priest blesses the rings, and the right hands of the bride and groom are joined, symbolizing their spiritual union. The rings are a symbol of their bond and perpetual faithfulness to each other. The bride and groom are asked three times whether they will be united to one another until the end of their lives, and are instructed by the priest to be faithful to one another.
Passages from Saint Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (Ephesians 5:22-33) and the Gospel of Saint Matthew (Matthew 19:3-12) are read which tell of Jesus’ teaching on marriage. A short creed of the Church is recited which tells of the events in Christ’s life.
Following the reading, the Priest places crowns on the bride and groom’s foreheads. The crowns are symbolic of the King and Queen of Armenia, Saints Trdat and Ashkhen, who, through Saint Gregory the Illuminator, proclaimed Christianity as the state religion in 301 A.D. The couple’s foreheads and right hands are joined together as a prayer is recited naming the Patriarchs of the Old Testament. The Godfather holds a Cross over the crowns, symbolizing the Christian interpretation of the reflective processes in their decision to marry and their intellectual union.
The crowns are then lifted and a cup of wine is blessed and given to the bride and groom, as well as the Godfather and maid of honor. The wine symbolizes the first miracle of Christ in Cana of Galilee where He transformed water into wine at a wedding so that it could be enjoyed by the guests.