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Best man of a wedding


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#1 Antonios

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 03:35 AM

Dear friends,

If person A was the koumbadi (best man) of person B's wedding, can person B in the future be the koumbadi (best man) of persons A's wedding? Thanks for any help.

BTW, by koumbadi, I mean the person who handles the crowns during the ceremony.

In Christ,
Antonios

#2 Paul Cowan

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 03:52 AM

I can't see why not. There are no rules as to who can and can not be the Best Man. Men other than the father of the bride are able to give her away. Even other women.

#3 Olga

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 07:17 AM

A clarification if I may, Paul.

The person "giving away" the bride at her wedding is not performing the same function as the koumbaro or best man. A bride is traditionally given away by her father; if her father is deceased or otherwise absent, a brother or other male relative, or, in the absence of any of these, a trusted male friend. Giving away the bride simply means escorting her to the church. He then takes no further part in the wedding ceremony.

By contrast, the koumbaro stands next to the bridal couple during a Greek wedding ceremony, performs the ritual crossing over of the stephana, and follows behind the couple, holding onto the stephana as they circle the table three times during the "Dance, Isaiah" hymn. (I mention "Greek wedding" as this does not occur during Russian or Serbian weddings. Once the crowns are placed on - or held above - the couple's heads, there they stay, without crossovers. Also, the best man need not stand next to the couple in these weddings. Most of the time his main function is to sign the wedding register as a witness.)

It is also a very common custom for the koumbaro who acts as best man at a wedding to then become Godfather to the first child born to the couple. If this is the intention, then one must look at who can and cannot be Godparents. There are certain prohibitions. Memory's a bit rusty here, but it may not be possible for two koumbari to be Godparents of each other's children, though I would need to confirm this.

#4 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 08:24 AM

Dear friends,

If person A was the koumbadi (best man) of person B's wedding, can person B in the future be the koumbadi (best man) of persons A's wedding? Thanks for any help.

BTW, by koumbadi, I mean the person who handles the crowns during the ceremony.

In Christ,
Antonios


Antonios, you need to ask your priest about this. Becoming a koumbaro or koumbara (best man/best woman) is a holy thing and connects the three people involved for the rest of their lives. Also as Olga has said, the first child born to the couple is always baptized by the best man or best women. I asked my husband just now and he said that this holy relationship cannot be reversed i.e. you cannot be best man to the man who was your best man at your wedding.

The term best man in English does not describe fully the seriousness of this relationship in the Orthodox church. There are also restrictions concerning the godchildren - I don't know the details exactly but I think that a person's godchild cannot marry his or her son or daughter. Ask your priest if you are in this situation.

Effie

#5 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 08:31 AM

"Service of Betrothal

The wedding ceremony itself is in two parts: the Service of Betrothal and the Ceremony of the Sacrament of Marriage. The exchanging of rings is the focus of the Service of Betrothal. The priest blesses the rings by holding them in his right hand and making the sign of the cross over the heads of the bride and groom. The rings are then placed on the third fingers of their right hands. The "Koumbaro", the couple's religious sponsor, then swaps the rings over between the bride and groom's fingers, three times. A number of rituals in the ceremony are repeated three times and this symbolises the Holy Trinity: God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Ceremony of the Sacrament of Marriage

This Ceremony consists of several key parts. First, several prayers are said and then as they come to an end, the priest joins the right hands of the bride and groom. Their hands remain joined until the end of the wedding ceremony, which symbolises the couple's union.

The Crowning

The bride and groom are crowned with thin crowns, or "stefana", which are joined by a white ribbon and have been blessed by the priest. The crowns symbolise the glory and honour that is being bestowed on them by God, and the the ribbon symbolises their unity. The "Koumbaro" then exchanges the crowns between the heads of the couple, three times.

The Common Cup

The crowning is followed by a reading of the Gospel, which tells of the marriage of Cana at Galilee. It was at this wedding that Jesus performed his first miracle, changing water into wine, which was then given to the married couple. Wine is given to the couple and they each drink from it three times.

The Ceremonial Walk

The priest the leads the couple, who are still wearing their "stefana" (crowns), three times around the altar on their first steps as a married couple. The "Koumbaro" follows close behind the couple holding the "stefana" place. At this point the couple (and anyone standing nearby) is usually showered with rice, which was earlier handed out to the wedding guests. The priest will often make use of the bible he is holding to give himself some protection!

The Removal of the Crowns

When the Ceremonial Walk has ended, the priest blesses the couple, the crowns are removed and he then separates their previously joined hands with the bible, reminding them that only God can break the union which they have just entered into. "
"The service is also rather unique because the bride and groom do not make vows to each other � their presence together in the church is taken to mean that they are serious about getting married. "

Something else that might not be known is that an engagement is also a very serious affair and a priest is usually present to bless the engagement rings before they are worn by the couple. The best man also takes part in this ceremony.

#6 Olga

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 08:50 AM

... the first child born to the couple is always baptized by the best man or best woman.


Not always, but it is very, very common among Greeks. Russians and other Slavs have quite different traditions, but that would be pushing the thread off-topic.

There are also restrictions concerning the godchildren - I don't know the details exactly but I think that a person's godchild cannot marry his or her son or daughter. Ask your priest if you are in this situation.


Definitely, Effie. People who share a Godparent are not permitted to marry, neither can the son or daughter of a Godparent marry a person whom that Godparent has "baptised", i.e. their Godbrother or Godsister. The relationship between unrelated people who become linked through Godparenting (Greeks call this koumbaria) is a spiritual one. Godchildren cannot marry each other, as it would be like a sister marrying a brother. They might not be biologically related, but, in the eyes of the Church, they are regarded as brother and sister through this spiritual bond.

#7 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 10:47 AM

Not always, but it is very, very common among Greeks. Russians and other Slavs have quite different traditions, but that would be pushing the thread off-topic.



.


Olga, I don't think this is off topic because it comes within the boundaries of the duties of the koumbaro. I know that when a couple have a child, the first person they ask to be the godfather is the person who was their koumbaro at their wedding. If for some reason he or she is unable to carry out this obligation then the parents are free to ask someone else. In north Greece the same person who was godfather to a child will also marry the godchild and then baptise the godchild's child. Or his son or daughter will. This can become very expensive for one family and so sometimes the family will not want to.

My husband and son were baptized by the same godfather. He has now died but when my son decides to marry, please God, his duty will be to go to his godmother (who is still alive, kiss her hand, ask her blessing and give her first choice - or her children, or grandchildren - to have the privilige of being the best man. I am aware that in other parts of Greece, each child in a family might have a different godfather. Up here, this first choice honour is a matter of courtesy and good manners.

I have baptised a little boy, when he decides to marry -he is now at university in Thessaloniki - either I, or more probably, my son will be the koumbaro.

Sadly, lots of customs are changing and lots of people seem to be too busy to have the love and respect they should for their godparents. My godson is an angel and comes to visit regularly although he lives so far away................. just thought I would add that................:):):)

Effie

We might be baptising a little baby girl shortly, but we are not sure yet. God's will be done.

#8 Nina

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 01:06 PM

Dear friends,

If person A was the koumbadi (best man)
In Christ,
Antonios


Dear Antonios, there is an R instead of the D in the word Koumbari. And it is pronounced also as an R.

#9 Father David Moser

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 03:23 PM

"Service of Betrothal

The wedding ceremony itself is in two parts: the Service of Betrothal and the Ceremony of the Sacrament of Marriage. The exchanging of rings is the focus of the Service of Betrothal. The priest blesses the rings by holding them in his right hand and making the sign of the cross over the heads of the bride and groom. The rings are then placed on the third fingers of their right hands. The "Koumbaro", the couple's religious sponsor, then swaps the rings over between the bride and groom's fingers, three times. A number of rituals in the ceremony are repeated three times and this symbolises the Holy Trinity: God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

....

Something else that might not be known is that an engagement is also a very serious affair and a priest is usually present to bless the engagement rings before they are worn by the couple. The best man also takes part in this ceremony.


The service of the betrothal is actually the "engagement". In these days the betrothal and crowning are celebrated together and so this is not really noticeable. The blessing of the engagement seems to be an attempt to regain that rite without restoring the betrothal to its original place. BTW, if a couple is betrothed and then there is a time lapse prior to the wedding (it doesn't happen often but it can) then a Church divorce is required should the betrothal be broken off and the wedding (crowning) canceled.

An example of why there might be a lapse between betrothal and crowning occurred in my parish where the couple were "betrothed" here (and then got a civil marriage for immigration purposes) and then traveled to the groom's home parish in another part of the country for the crowning. Not the ideal, but it did work (but I wouldn't suggest it as a matter of routine).

And Effie is correct, the crowns are not "switched" by the Kum in the Slav tradition after they are placed on (over) the head by the priest.

Fr David Moser

Edited by Father David Moser, 03 March 2008 - 03:24 PM.
word choice


#10 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 03:36 PM

Father David, people here usually get engaged months before the wedding - as they do in other countries. I suppose this might be an imported idea because in the past "the logos" was the engagement which means "the promise" or giving your word.

From some of the things I have read on this forum, I have come to realize that we, in this country, have strayed from the original religious meaning of some of our customs. Our grandparents knew the reasons behind certain customs but not many of us do anymore. Everything has become so commercial now. Fortunes are spent on weddings and people seem to be more interested in making a "good" impression on others instead of experiencing the holiness of certain celebrations in a more modest manner. My mum told me that you can't even die in Australia anymore without a lot of money being spent on funerals and mourning dinners etc. So, this phenomenon appears to be world-wide.

Effie

#11 Demetrios

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 04:51 PM

Father David, people here usually get engaged months before the wedding - as they do in other countries. I suppose this might be an imported idea because in the past "the logos" was the engagement which means "the promise" or giving your word.

From some of the things I have read on this forum, I have come to realize that we, in this country, have strayed from the original religious meaning of some of our customs. Our grandparents knew the reasons behind certain customs but not many of us do anymore. Everything has become so commercial now. Fortunes are spent on weddings and people seem to be more interested in making a "good" impression on others instead of experiencing the holiness of certain celebrations in a more modest manner. My mum told me that you can't even die in Australia anymore without a lot of money being spent on funerals and mourning dinners etc. So, this phenomenon appears to be world-wide.

Effie

I would also like to add. That if a god parent baptizes a girl for example. That they would always have to baptize the same sex in the future. If they decide to baptize more than one child. Or risk the chance of the boy and girl meeting in some way in the future. This is something done in small towns and villages in Greece. I don't think it's recognized today in large communities.

#12 Antonios

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 05:10 PM

Dear Antonios, there is an R instead of the D in the word Koumbari. And it is pronounced also as an R.



oops! Thank you Nina and to everyone else who has responded!

#13 Olga

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 09:07 PM

Olga, I don't think this is off topic because it comes within the boundaries of the duties of the koumbaro.


The reason why I did not mention the Slavic traditions on marriage and baptism at the time is because it is clear that Antonios is asking for advice for a Greek wedding.

Briefly, the best man at a Russian wedding does not take an active part in the ceremony as does a Greek koumbaro. For instance, the rings are exchanged three times at the betrothal by the priest, not by the koumbaro. The best man does not stand next to the couple during the ceremony, though he may hold the wedding crown above the head of the bride or groom where the couple have chosen this over wearing the crowns on their heads. (a minimum of four men are therefore required for the crown-holding, such as three groomsmen and the best man, and they take it in turns, like a relay. It's not easy!) The crowns are not crossed over during the ceremony, whether they are held above the couple's heads or placed on them.

Where two Godparents are chosen, Russians choose two people unrelated to each other, unlike the Greek custom of a married couple. There seems to be no tradition of "automatically" appointing the best man as a Godfather, though there would be no prohibition on it. In the past, in both Greek and Russian custom, the Godparents would often take over the upbringing of a Godchild who had lost his or her parents.

I have posted the above to simply compare two different but very long-standing traditions.

#14 Father David Moser

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 09:25 PM

T For instance, the rings are exchanged three times at the betrothal by the priest, not by the koumbaro.


Actually this is incorrect. I was strongly corrected by my elders when I asked about this not long ago. In the Russian Church it is not proper for the priest to exchange the rings - this is to be done by the best man (koumb) or some other person according to the request of the couple, but it is not done by the priest.

Fr David Moser

#15 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 04 March 2008 - 12:55 AM

That if a god parent baptizes a girl for example. That they would always have to baptize the same sex in the future. If they decide to baptize more than one child. Or risk the chance of the boy and girl meeting in some way in the future. This is something done in small towns and villages in Greece. I don't think it's recognized today in large communities.


I would say it still ought to be the case that one should only baptise children of the same sex. I have baptised two baby boys and would not baptise a girl. You never know.

#16 Olga

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Posted 04 March 2008 - 03:22 AM

I would say it still ought to be the case that one should only baptise children of the same sex. I have baptised two baby boys and would not baptise a girl. You never know.


If a man who was already a Godfather to, say, boys, and then became koumbaro to a Greek couple at their wedding, what would then happen if that couple's first child was a girl, and they wanted to keep the best man/Godfather tradition?

#17 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 04 March 2008 - 08:29 AM

I would also like to add. That if a god parent baptizes a girl for example. That they would always have to baptize the same sex in the future. If they decide to baptize more than one child. Or risk the chance of the boy and girl meeting in some way in the future. This is something done in small towns and villages in Greece. I don't think it's recognized today in large communities.


Demetrios, this might be wise in order to avoid heartache in the future, but this doesn't happen here. People baptise both baby boys and baby girls. In large cities where people don't know each other baptizing only one sex makes sense.

Effie




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