Like many ancient traditions, a Coptic wedding is deeply symbolic. The Coptic Wedding Crowns symbolize rulers of the household, anointing with Holy Oil symbolizes spiritual protection for the bride and groom, lighted candles symbolize the light of Christ etc.. It’s wonderful event with an Old-World appeal that makes you feel as if you are part of something much larger than yourself.
We won’t cover each part of the wedding, but we will talk about a few key points about the ceremony. First, we want to mention the use of royal adornments. One of the first things you’ll notice about a Coptic wedding is that the bride and groom are dressed a bit like royalty. They wear crowns, capes, lavishly embroidered garments, jewelry, and all manner of decadence. Yes, it looks amazing, but more importantly in the Coptic faith, it symbolizes that the bride and groom as the newly adorned rulers of their household.
This is one of the most important parts of the ceremony, and probably the most unusual to those who’ve never been to an Eastern Orthodox wedding: The Blessing of the Crowns. In this part of the service, the priest takes turns placing the crowns on the heads of the bride and groom while reciting prayers. The crowns themselves are signs of glory and honor that God bestows upon the couple during the sacrament. They also represent the couples giving their lives to each other and through Christ. At the end of the wedding, the crowns are removed and the priest asks that the crowns are admitted into the Kingdom of Heaven.
While the Coptic Church is conservative and adheres to tradition, there are some parts of the wedding that are taken less seriously due to modern trends. For instance, at the end of the service, the priest provides advice or admonition to the bride and groom, mainly to the bride, in which he tells her that she must submit to her man, be obedient to him, and refer to him as her “Lord”. Although this is part of the ceremony, it’s a section that is taken less seriously in modern times for obvious reasons. However, keep in mind that divorce is not an option unless in extreme circumstances and that the marriage is a union created by God.
Also, according to the tradition, sex is not allowed for three days following the ceremony and the couple must instead fast and pray. This is a custom that isn’t followed as closely today, and you can probably imagine why. We’ll just say that most couples aren’t exactly flying off to the nearest monastery after the wedding is over, although some devoutly religious couples still follow this tradition.
The wedding is concluded with shouts of joy and celebration from the women. These aren’t any old hoots and hollers though: it’s a distinct sound known as Zaghareet, where the women produce a high-pitch sound as they waggle their tongues rapidly from side-to-side. It’s an ancient custom and you’ve probably heard before but haven’t realized it yet.