Marriage rites

One of the significant things regarding the marriage rite of the Coptic Church is that, like the Maronite rite, it once contained an anointing of bride and groom, though this has fallen into disuse in the modern rite. For the rite of betrothal, the bride and family go to the church, and the bride is escorted to a special place on the women's side of the church. The groom arrives and is seated in the men's division of the church. A fairly lengthy Liturgy of the Word prefaces the betrothal rite, which consists of three betrothal prayers, two of which are followed by short congregational prayers. The prayers centre on the theme of creation and the well-being of the couple. The father of the groom presents wedding attire, which is blessed by the priest. A ring is placed on the finger of the groom, who is led to the bride; the groom removes the ring and places it on the bride's finger, and they are regarded as betrothed.

The marriage rite begins with a question of consent, and then comes a Liturgy of the Word. After the Gospel there is a special litany which includes,

You who blessed the wedding celebrated at Cana in Galilee and by the power of your divinity changed water into real wine, bless and protect the marriage of your servants N and N, keeping them in peace, unity and love . . .

Another litany follows, then the Creed, and then three prayers: one for the couple to become one flesh, one for multiplying blessings, and a third for protection in the future. The anointing rite once followed, but now the service continues with the crowning (the 'messianic' connection may have been the reason for the anointing to be adopted, though the theme of the anointing prayers was more for protection than coronation). The crowning is followed by signing and blessing, and then the removal of the crowns.

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