It was almost like a quest to see this holy relic. And like with all quests it was the searching that mattered not the finding for both times I failed but was rewarded in a different way.
The first time it was by being present at an Eastern Orthodox wedding. Well, to be accurate it was three weddings for there were a trinity of couples there.
Of course at first I had no idea what was going on, and there didn't seem to be any exclusivity in use of the cathedral. There remained the usual flow of mostly elderly women who'd come up to their chosen icon for a prayer and reverential kiss, or light a candle.
I hope the people there don't mind these photos - in general I try not to post picture of people without their permission.
So the first picture above shows the three couples with the candle that is Declaration of Intent and Lighting of Candles (all info from Wikipedia which of course was the first port of call back in the hotel).
After that there was the crowning:
After prayers are offered on their behalf, the groom and bride are crowned by the priest "In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit". These crowns have two meanings. First, they reveal that the man and woman, in their union with Christ, participate in His Kingship. Second, as in the ancient Church, crowns are a symbol of martyrdom.
Hmm... there it goes again, Georgia and martyrdom.
Anyhow then there was the Epistle, the Gospel, the Common Cup (i.e. wine) and then the Dance of Isaiah in which all three couples process around three times to reflect the Trinity:
Finally they went outside where there was a final stage in the ceremony that Wikipedia didn't mention but I think you can guess what's happening here: