An Armenian Wedding

Last week my husband and I attended the Armenian wedding of one of my friends here in Jerusalem.  The wedding was held in St. Stephen's Basillica in Jerusalem and I wish I had brought my camera because it was a BEAUTIFUL church.  The arches are constructed from alternating red and white stones - quite a stunning look in a giant grey stoned church.

The ceremony was quite fascinating to me.  I know little about the Armenian church and even less about how big formal weddings work.  Here are a few notes I jotted down in my notebook about the ceremony:

-Bride and groom walked 1/2 way down the isle and 4 robed and hooded priests met them there.  They asked them questions in Armenian to which I assume the bride and groom answered in the affirmative.

-The robed and hooded priests (black robes with pointy hoods pull down over their foreheads - red capes with golden embroidery) faced the couple and read/chanted/sang scripture for a while, then turned and faced the back of the church and read/chanted/sang for a while in intervals.  It was wild

-At one point the priests put gold chains with crosses over the bride and groom's respective foreheads.  They leaned together touching crosses and foreheads for a good portion of the ceremony.

-The couple drank something out of the same cup before passing it to the best man and bridesmaid behind them. 

-After the ceremony they greeted everyone in the courtyard and we ate tiny, mostly fried delicacies.

Did I mention that a few groups of tourists wandered into the church during the wedding?  Well, they did.  Shamelessly.  Some of them even posed in the nave to the side of the couple and took pictures with the newlyweds-in-process in the background.

It really brings up a very common and sticky conundrum here in Jeruselem - that crossroads between a good photograph and someone's religious demonstrations.  I've only been tsked once for taking a pic of someone's religiosity in the Holy Sepulcher, but for the most part I avoid it...or do it from far away.

Sure sometimes those moments would make for a great picture, but someone's wedding for crying out loud?!      

(Picture care of Sahar - thanks!)


  1. VERY cool!!

    If you hadn't told me those two were Armenian, I would have said the lovely bride was the spitting image of one of my students...from Armenia.

  2. That sounds really amazing! They look very nice too! What a beautiful bride! :-)