Traditional Russian weddings are celebrated in accordance with the monetary capabilities of the families and what the couple can afford. However, in this modern age, there are some exceptions. If the couple and their families can afford to spend lavishly, they go on to have a grand wedding. Also, some couples are adopting certain traditions of the West. Like in matters related to marriage vows, stage shows and tents specially prepared for guests. There may be well known performers and professional directors as script writers for the performances, which are all part of the wedding reception these days.
An application to get married is filed by the man and the woman to the ZAGS, the Russian wedding registration office, several months in advance. A date will be set and wedding preparations will begin. Some things to be arranged include the renting of a limo or other kind of vehicle, making arrangement with the restaurant where the celebrations will take place, choosing a cameraman and a photographer to cover the ceremonies. If the couple’s budget still allows, they may hire a toastmaster. A toastmaster is a person who manages the various aspects of the wedding, such as announcement of performers, leading the fun contests and introducing the different persons of the couples’ families and of the one who’ll be raising the toast.
The Outfit and Wedding Rings
The wedding dress of the bride and the suit of the groom can be custom-made, purchased or rented. Most often, the accessories such as necklace and earrings veil, purse and tiara are purchased from a special bridal salon, as well as cuff links and clips for the groom.
The wedding rings are provided by the groom, as in the western world. The ring exchange is performed at the civil ceremony. The rings, usually, are made of gold and may have some precious stones on them, or stripes of silver or platinum. If the couple so desires, they may opt to have the rings customized by putting their names and the wedding date on the inside.
Another tradition in the Russian weddings that was patterned on the western style is the style of giving an engagement ring to the future wife. This is done when the man proposes marriage to the girl he loves.
On The Wedding Day
On the day of the wedding, the bride will be assisted by her relatives and friends on some details that may include her look and style. However, most often, a professional make-up artist and a hairdresser are hired to do the bride’s hair and make up. Other aspects may also be taken care of by these persons with regards to the make-over.
When everything is ready, the bride will go to the ZAGS, often about an hour and a half early for the official ceremony and registration. At this moment, another wedding tradition will be performed, when the bride’s parents will “steal” the bride and hide her from her groom until a “ransom” has been paid. The payment can be in the form of cash money or pieces of jewelry and should be given to the parents. After this is done, the groom can take back his wife and the two of them will proceed to the registry hall. Before the couple enters the hall, they will be greeted with bread and salt by the guests.
It is just a short ceremony, taking only about 15 minutes. This is when the wedding rings are exchanged, “I Do’s” are said and the book of registry is signed. The couple will be pronounced man and wife.
If the couple is marrying at the Russian Orthodox Church the length of the ceremony may range from 30 to 120 minutes. The length may depend on how many of the orthodox traditions will take place. Orthodox weddings, though, are breathtaking and beautiful and admired by the guests as well as the couple.
Before they meet the guests at the restaurant or any venue, the newlyweds will have picture-taking sessions at the park, historical places, the sea coast, or any place of interest.
The Russian wedding reception, compared to other weddings, is very lout. It may last for 2 days or longer. There is an abundance of food and drinks and to go with it are dancing, music, singing and a lengthy toast. Guests will be singing traditional Russian songs, where the musicians will be playing on popular musical instruments like the accordion, garmashka or bayan. One important part of the celebration is when raising the toast, if the guests keep saying bitter means that the couple has to continue kissing.