We all know a bit about conventional wedding ceremonies in the UK and even in Ancient Greece (https://vowsthatwow.co.uk/?p=589), but what about modern Russian weddings?
A traditional Russian wedding usually lasts two days, so needs to be well-planned. Like most Western brides, Russian brides look for the best outfit they can afford. Local culture often infuses the wedding, and it can be traditional or westernized. It will usually take place in a church, and may include the ‘crowning’ of the couple.
The wedding is prefaced by a small civil affair for the couple, close relatives and a few friends.
The wedding itself typically starts with the couple isolated from each other. They are accompanied by friends and family during this time.
Amazingly, the bride gets ‘kidnapped’ and the groom has to set out on a mission to rescue her. The bride’s friends and family try to mislead the groom. They may hide his car keys or block access to his quarters. A ransom may be demanded. The groom’s task is to answer trivia questions (to symbolise the fact that marriage will present challenges to the groom and he must do everything possible to safeguard his wife).
Once the groom has been successful, the whole party moves off (often by train, in two separate carriages) for their civil ceremony. After the ceremony, it is common to place flowers on the graves of deceased Russian troops.
The reception usually lasts two days. First, the couples’ parents toast the pair, then everyone else joins in. The couple kiss after each toast. Then wild dancing and partying will begin.
The first night is open to anyone and is a huge event with lots of eating and drinking, dancing, pranks and good wishes to the bride and groom.
The second day is much more intimate – only close friends and family attend.
The extravagant celebrations ensure an unforgettable start to the couple’s married life together.
Michael Gordon is a celebrant based in London.