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Home>>Articles>>Holy Matrimony: Orthodox Tradition of Presenting Icons as a Wedding Gift

Holy Matrimony: Orthodox Tradition of Presenting Icons as a Wedding Gift

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In the Eastern Orthodox Church, marriage, or holy matrimony, is treated as a Sacred Mystery that serves to unite a woman and a man in eternal union before God. In Orthodoxy, a pair of icons used to bless the bride and groom at the wedding ceremony. The icons, usually matching in size and style of decoration and depicting the Savior and the Mother of God with Christ Child, are called the Wedding Icons (RussianВенчальные иконы) or The Wedding Pair.

The icons are meant to bless the Holy Matrimony on Earth and in Heavens and to accompany the spouses throughout their lives. According to tradition, the icons are to become a family heirloom to be inherited by future generations. The icon of the Savior was traditionally presented by the parents of the groom, and the icon of the Virgin was presented by the parents of the bride. Such icons sanctified the family's life for years, protected it from troubles and illness, helped to overcome hardships, to preserve happiness, and keep the family together. From ancient times, a gift of a pair of icons with the iconography that is the most important in the Orthodox world is a part of the sacrament of marriage signifying the spiritual union of the spouses.

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A ca. 1900 pair of portable Wedding Icons by the famous Russian silversmith P. Ovchinnikov in Moscow. 

However, it is appropriate to gift the wedding icons to a young family even after the wedding. The icons can be presented on the wedding anniversary or even as a gift to one's spouse to commemorate years of a happy marriage.  There is no doubt - such a gift will occupy an important place not just in the home, but most importantly, in the souls of a family. The timing of such a gift does not diminish its relevance and spiritual value.

Nowadays, instead of a Wedding Pair, many people chose to present the newlyweds with a single icon that has a special meaning to them - either of the Savior, Mother of God, a Patron Saint, or a special Saint known to assist with life and family matters. In addition, icons with depictions of Saints Shamona, Guria, and Deacon Abibus of Edessa (Known in Russia as Holy Martyrs Samon, Gury, and Aviv) – the Patron Saints of the Holy Matrimony are frequently gifted to the newlyweds by family members, friends, and acquaintances. 

If you are looking for an antique icon to be presented for a wedding or another special occasion, feel free to contact us and we will be happy to assist you in choosing the perfect gift that is to be treasured by the recipients and provide them with happiness during the good times and spiritual strength during the times of difficulties.  

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