A Macedonian Wedding is an extravagant celebration full of dancing, food, and family. Everything steeped in centuries-old traditions. They are also something of an endurance test with the festivities going on all day. For an outsider like myself, these traditions were weird and wonderful. This was my first Eastern Orthodox Wedding and luckily the family was amazing at explaining all the little customs they performed along the way.
St Dimitrija Solunski Macedonian Orthodox Church was a very impressive church to work out of. The procession is a little different than a Western wedding as the bride and groom walk down the aisle together. Following that, they exchange rings at the beginning of the ceremony. The priest blesses both rings before placing them on the third finger of their right hands. Next, the wedding sponsor swaps the rings between the bride and groom to symbolize their future connection.
The bride and groom are each given one white candle to hold for the remainder of the ceremony. When they light these candles, it signals the Sacrament of Marriage. The crowns symbolize the couple’s marriage as a blessing from God. Similar to the rings, they swap crowns between the bride and groom three times as well. The significance behind performing these rituals three times is the holy trinity. So the couple sips wine three times, and walk around the altar three times. Making circles around the wedding altar is a symbol of infinity and the couple’s eternity together. Finally, the officiant removes the Stefana crowns and says a prayer for the newly married couple.
The entire family and the couple’s two daughters joined us at Unionville where we did the formal portraits. I met the two girls when they joined their parents for the engagement shoot earlier this year. They were pros even back then so I loved working with them again this time around. Afterward, we proceeded to St Nedela Macedonian Orthodox Church. Their reception was in the church’s basement. They had a handful of speeches. However, the majority of the night spent dancing. Their first dance together kicked off an assortment of dancing throughout the night. From group dancing with their guests to the traditional pig dance when dinner was ready to be served. All in all, so much energy.
I will be working with this family again in a few years for their third daughter’s Baptism.