Russian wedding ceremonies involve extensive pre-planning and arrangements. A traditional style wedding usually continues for two days. Most Russians generally prefer holding a traditional wedding at St. Petersburg or in the countryside. Russian brides search for the most fancy dress that their budget can allow to wear during this big “day of the bride.” Russia’s wedding traditions have been rooted in the history and culture of the region. Most Russian women for marriage do not mind deviating from traditional marriage and having a more modern or “westernized” type of wedding.
Based on tradition, Russian women and grooms along with their respective families engage in a long series of traditional activities during the impressive reception party. The wedding ceremony is not as involved in Russia as it is in many other places in the world. According to Russian law, women for marriage and grooms must have a civil marriage, which customarily consists of a small ritual involving a few very close and essential relatives and friends of the couple. This service is a very private and intimate affair and is very different from expansive church weddings.
However, it does not stop there. The wedding ceremony is dominated by traditions, and cultural practices carried out by the Russian women for marriage, the grooms and their respective families. The Russian brides and grooms getting married start the day in a typical traditional style separated from each other. They both have the company of friends and family during this time. What follows is an exciting “movie” as the bride gets kidnapped and the groom sets out on a mission to rescue her and bring her back. During this time, the bride’s family and friends engage in evasive tactics and pranks to distract him from reaching his goal.
They can hide the keys to his car or block the halls of his apartment to distract him. The groom has to answer trivia questions correctly to get past this. This is symbolic of the fact that the groom is up to the challenging tasks of marrying and will do anything in his power to protect his woman. Once the groom makes it to his lady the whole wedding party heads to the site of their civil ceremony by train. The soon to be couple rides in different train cars with each of them surrounded by family members. Many traditions are carried out during and after the wedding ceremony including laying flowers on the graves of deceased Russian soldiers.
It is now a merry time as the newlyweds attend their reception party which is typically a two-day action packed festive event. It starts with their parents toasting them, and then everyone else joining in. It’s the sweetest romance scene ever with the couple kissing after each toast as a sign of ‘sweetening the wine’ for all to enjoy. Single women and men enjoy this as they are the future brides and grooms. As the toasting continues, wild dancing begins, and the party starts. There are also unique traditional games, including one where the groom’s friends playfully kidnap the wife and make the groom pay a ransom to get her back.
During the first night in typical Russian culture, the party is open to anyone who wishes to attend and is a big event. People drink, eat, dance, play games and wish their blessings to the newlyweds. On the second day, however, it gets more intimate and is reserved for close friends and family. These impressive series of traditions allows the newlyweds to begin their life in a very memorable fashion. When they marry in such a beautiful wedding ceremony, they will try their best to keep their relationship beautiful.
In many ways, Russian weddings are more straightforward than those in the other countries. The guest lists are shorter (usually under 100), there is not a wedding party, and in general, less fuss is made about details like the flowers and music. What is important is having a fun party with an abundant supply of alcohol and food.
It all begins when a man asks a woman to marry him. Couples tend to marry younger in Russia; 18 -22 years old is a typical age. There is not usually an engagement ring, and the engagement usually is only a few months long. This becomes a reality when you keep in mind how much less elaborate the wedding arrangements are.
Wedding traditions are unique all over the world. There is one thing that Russian weddings are known for, and that is being a lot of fun. These are some of the 7 Unique Traditions and customs of Russian weddings.
1. The Bride’s Ransom
It is the work of the parents to give the bride away in many wedding ceremonies in the West. For Russian brides, it is different because in some cases they experience something more dramatic. Their parents demand the groom to offer some ransom to get the bride back after they pretend to kidnap them. It is the work of the groom to offer something valuable, and this shows that the groom has put effort to rescue the bride from her parents. This event is a solid dramatization, and it is highly staged in advance, and those attending the ceremony knows what is going on.
2. Feed me
In the early days, one day after the wedding, it was a custom for the new wife to bring water to her new parents and help them with washing. Before preparing the breakfast, she would help them with dressing. Things are different in this new Russian generation because right at the wedding is where the mother in law test the bride’s domestic capabilities. Before the wedding day it the work of the master of ceremony to request the groom’s mother which dishes she prefers for both her dinner, lunch, and breakfast. The groom’s mother comes up with a list of dishes, and it is the work of the bride to identify which is the favorite for the groom. If it happens, the bride guesses correctly what the groom prefers, then she automatically wins respect and the trust of the mother in law, and she is rewarded with a book full of healthy and delicious meal recipes.
3. Smashing the Champagne Glasses
When the wedding reception starts, a person who is vital in the lives of the bride or groom will make a speech and declare a toast to the new couple. After the toast is complete, everyone throws their wine glasses to the ground. It is taken a sign of good luck if the glasses successfully break once they hit the floor. The shattering of the glass in unison creates powerful symbolism.
4. Predicting the baby’s gender
A blue paper, a glue-stick, a large drawing that of a kid wearing diapers, a bow and rings of pink are what you will need so that you will be capable of determining the gender of the couples, future baby. The bows have its unique purpose. The bride and the groom are blindfolded by the master of ceremony and then he/she invites them to tie the rings onto the bow. After they complete playing this game, if there are more blue papers in the bow the baby will be a boy, and if there are more pink papers in the bow, the child will be a girl.
5. Couples’ Tourism (Progulka)
Following the civil ceremony, the newlyweds and their witnesses, travel around the city in a limousine and view many historical sites. Sometimes very close friends join as well. During the tour, wedding photographs are taken at historical sites. They will see a lot of the places in the city as if they are sharing their union with the rest of the community. This is the first time that they will see these sites as a married couple, which makes the event especially symbolic.
6. The frying pan and the ladle
It is a contest that is marked by making a lot of noise. In the middle of the groom’s legs, a ladle is tied with a frying pan is put in the middle of the bride’s legs. The primary aim of this is for the two to make a louder noise by using the ladle to hit the pan earlier before the set time runs out.
7. A Two-Day Wedding Reception
Often, the wedding receptions in some cultures will last for a few hours. For many Russian brides and grooms, they will last for two days. During the second day of the reception, which comes after a small period of rest, is marked with several activities like drinking, dancing, fighting, and eating. In many ways, this part of the reception will be even livelier than the first. Receptions are critical to the people and often last between two days and a week, depending on how long the liquor and food hold out. Guests must be entertained at all times, so it is not uncommon for activities to include music, skits, games, etc.
On the first day of the reception, the civil ceremony takes place. The groom and the bride on their own and not together. The friends and family do everything to make sure they do not come into contact. Once they meet, they each must then travel in separate cars of a train to the location of the civil ceremony. The couple is then taken throughout the city to present their union to the world as well as to visit the deceased to honor their memory. This is then followed by the first part of the wedding reception during which a feast is held. Games are played during this event such as kidnapping the bride to make the groom pay a ransom to get her back or stealing her shoes. The celebration continues until the guests are too exhausted to continue.
On the second day of the reception, activities begin at the newlywed’s new home. Since this early period of the day is less hectic, chaotic, and formal usually only close friends and family continue the celebration. When food and drink are served no silverware or glasses are made available, and guests are expected to “buy” them in this way further helping the young couple financially. Later in the afternoon or evening, guests are treated to a feast after which the bride has to “clean the floor.” This may sound heartless, but in reality, the floor is littered with money by the guests who keep dropping money on the floor to make the task more difficult for the bride. At the reception, “sharing the loaf” is standard practice. As the newlyweds attempt to take a bite from a loaf of bread without the use of their hands, guests cheer them on. The leader of the new family is the one, it is said, can take the most significant bite from the load.
Lastly, the bride and groom are offered bread and salt at the wedding reception. The bread and salt serve as symbols of longevity, prosperity, and vitality in Russian culture. The bride and groom both take large bites of the bread. It is said that the person who takes the most massive bite is going to be the real leader of the family.
The two days of revelry surrounding marriage in Russia usually take place on a Friday and Saturday, which gives everyone Sunday to recover from having so much fun. And they will need it since it is considered rude to stay sober at a Russian celebration! This may be why the Russians are known for having such fun weddings. There are many more traditions for a Russian wedding that can only add a unique flair to a traditional celebration. The main difference between what is called western weddings and Russian weddings is that they are less formal affairs that are designed to be fun for all guests in attendance. They are a lot of work to create, but so worth it, in the end, a wedding is a special day, it is unique, and the bride and groom can make it their own. Not all Russian weddings are celebrated the traditional way, and many have distinct westernized traditions included in them.