Wedding Presents

Six years ago when my husband Bill and I married, we received many lovely gifts from friends and relatives - crystal glasses, housewares, small appliances, linens, all the usual wedding fare. Sadly, today I cannot say who gave us any one of those presents, with one exception…

While I was away at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, I was blessed to meet a young iconographer, Nick Papas, and his family at the local OCA parish I attended; he had attended the same college a few years before, and steered me toward the best professors for art history and museology. When another Orthodox student, Denise, and I would take the bus from campus to the church (some 15 miles away), he would drive us home, and often fed us (beans and tortillas during fasts, ouzo and lamb for feasts).

Bill and I watched his family grow over four years, and talked often about how he and his wife Patty, a nurse and Church School teacher, seemed so happy and communicated so well. We prayed that our relationship would be blessed as well.

The Papas family, and our friends from IUP's Orthodox Christian Fellowship, outnumbered our own families the day of our wedding: they drove for hours to get to the parish Bill and I had joined 9 months earlier, attended the Sunday Liturgy with me (communion en masse!), and at two-o'clock marched right up to the choir loft and prayed for our happiness so that we could feel it as a tangible force in the church.

We ate (Italian, remember I'm the one who wants lasagna in the Pascha basket), played a ripping game of putt-putt golf, then said good-bye…

When Bill and I opened our presents the next day, alone in our new apartment, we cried when we saw Nick's gift: a gorgeous crucifixion icon, written by his own hand. It has hung in our icon corner ever since, and is the icon we place out for the priest when he comes to bless our house each year after Theophany.

Every time we look at the icon, we think of the gift Nick gave us: his prayers for our salvation and our future, and his support for our efforts for know Christ better, through the veneration of His image.

If you are attending a wedding this summer, you don't need to be an iconographer to give a gift equally as meaningful. Consider the following gifts:
Offer to purchase the "wine chalice" the couple will use during their wedding ceremony. [You can even try to purchase one to compliment their crystal registry choice, or have a silver one engraved with their names and the date of their marriage. Ours is displayed in the center of our china hutch.]
If the family background of the couple is Eastern European, consider giving a Pascha basket, a handmade cover, and/or a sterling shaker for the basket salt. [I had to beg my mom to part with one of her baskets that first year…]
Collect religious Christmas decorations for the couple. [Our first year tree included one angel, one needlepoint St. Nicholas, and 55 Star Wars figures from Bill's collection. It took 5 years for our tree to look "traditionally Christian".]
Give a beautifully-bound "family" Bible, a book of the lives of the saints, or theological writings on the sacrament of marriage. [We received one such book from a friend of mine who is a Jehovah's Witness, and because of her beliefs could not attend our ceremony. She highlighted passages she thought reflected our SHARED beliefs.]
Give good reproduction icons of the couple's patron saints, a shelf, or censer for their icon corner.
For couples that have many of these items already, small crystal cruets to hold holy water and holy oil (again in their crystal pattern if you know it) would probably be greatly appreciated.
Family members: give traditional holiday/feast recipes, written in a good journal! The couple may not cook now, but in five years they'll be begging for these!

One source for most of these items is Conciliar Press. To obtain a catalog, write to Conciliar Press, P.O. Box 675, Ben Lomond, CA 95005, or check with your parish priest.

by Nichola T. Krause

© 1996 by Orthodox Family Life and the original author(s).
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