Do you think of marrying a Russian girl? Here is the full guide to Russian wedding customs! After reading it, you will know what to be ready for if your bride insists on organizing the ceremony and celebration in the Russian style!
The Parts of the Russian Wedding and Their Subsequence
Usually, the wedding in this country consists of 2 or 3 parts:
- Contracting a civil marriage at the Department of Public Services.
- Wedding ceremony in the church. It is optional. Only religious brides insist on it, and atheists may marry without it.
- Celebration at the restaurant.
Before the Wedding
A Hen Party and a Stag Party
This tradition is familiar to everyone in the West as well. In Russia, hen parties and stag parties are also common. Shortly before the wedding, the bride with her girlfriends and the groom with his friends gather separately from each other and throw parties. They symbolize farewell to single life.
In the morning of the day when the ceremony is going to be held, a bride gets prepared for it. She has festive make-up and hairstyle done and dresses up. Usually, a bride prepares for the wedding at her home.
Bride’s And Groom’s Attires
Traditionally, the bride wears a white dress and a wedding veil and carries a wedding bouquet. The groom wears a dark (most commonly — black) suit.
The groom attaches the boutonniere to the left lapel or pocket of the suit. The bride attaches the boutonniere to her dress along the neckline: either on any side or in the center. Sometimes, boutonnieres are ordered for all guests. In such a case, traditionally, those who are married attach it on the right side and those who are single — on the left one.
Forbidding the Groom to See the Bride
It is not allowed for a groom to see his bride in her wedding attire before the wedding itself. That is why newlyweds come to the civil ceremony separately from each other. It is considered to be a bad omen for the groom to see the bride in her wedding dress before the ceremony itself. It is believed that if he does, the couple will be unhappy, and there will be a lot of quarrels in the family life.
At the Civil Marriage Ceremony
It is short but essential because this is when the official marriage is contracted. Usually, it lasts for about half an hour. Here are the traditions that are typical for this Russian wedding stage.
Taking an Oath
The bride and the groom take an oath to be always faithful to each other and to be together both in good and difficult times.
During the ceremony, the bride and the groom put each other’s wedding rings on each other’s fingers. In Russia, the wedding ring is traditionally worn on the ring finger of the right hand.
Breaking Crystal Glasses
Right after the official marriage is contracted the parents give a crystal glass to each newlywed. They should break these glasses. The more fragments there are and the smaller they are, the happier the marriage is going to be.
Releasing Doves into the Sky
Right after newlyweds come out of the Department of Public Services, each of them takes a white dove in hand. Then they release these birds into the sky simultaneously. This symbolizes mutual fidelity, family well-being, and peace.
Tour around the City in a Limousine
After the ceremony, the bride, the groom, the bridesmaid, and the best man take a tour around the city in a limousine. The route usually circles around the Department of Public Services passing the most beautiful and famous places in the city.
The car is decorated with wedding wreaths, flowers, and balloons. The driver honks loudly for everyone to hear that the newlyweds are celebrating their wedding.
At the Church Ceremony
This is when the priest blesses the newlyweds and gets them married according to religious traditions. The ceremony consists of two parts.
At this stage, the priest blesses the newlyweds and gives a lit candle to each of them. They hold them throughout the ceremony. The priest reads prayers, and the newlyweds exchange the rings.
The newlyweds stand in the center of the church on the new piece of fabric, which symbolizes the beginning of their new life. The priest reads some prayers and then gives two crowns. Some of the guests hold these crowns above the bride’s and groom’s heads throughout the ceremony.
Then the priest continues reading prayers and gives a cup of wine to the newlyweds. They should take a sip from it in turn.
After that, the priest wraps the piece of fabric around the joined hands of the newlyweds and leads them around the place where the Gospel Book is three times.
On the Celebration
As soon as guests start to shout “Gorko!” (the literal translation of the word is “Bitter!”), the newlyweds should start kissing. It is believed that the longer the kiss is, the longer the family life will last.
The First Dance of Newlyweds
This is the symbol of love and affection. The bride and the groom usually start to rehearse it long before the wedding. The newlyweds perform it in the center of the festive hall in front of all the guests.
Wedding Loaf Biting
The groom and the bride bite a wedding loaf simultaneously. There is a belief that the one who has bitten a bigger piece, is going to be the leader in the family.
The Dance of a Bride with Her Father
The bride dances with her father. This symbolizes her farewell to her parents’ home where she used to live before the wedding.
“Stealing” the Bride’s Shoe
Some guests steal one of the bride’s shoes. When it is removed from her leg, the bride pretends not to notice this. When everyone notices that the shoe is lost, those who have “stolen” it demand a ransom from the groom.
In the middle of the celebration, some guests “kidnap” the bride. The groom must give them a ransom to get her back.
Throwing the Bride’s Bouquet
Closer to the end of the celebration, the bride turns her back on the single female guests and throws a bouquet into the crowd of them. It is believed that the one who catches it will be the next to get married.