- Russian wedding
A traditional Russian
weddinglasts for at least two days and some weddings last as long as a week. Throughout the celebration there is dancing, singing, long toasts, and a lot of food and drinks. The best man and maid of honor are called witnesses, “svideteli” in Russian. The ceremony and the ring exchange takes place on the first day of the wedding and on this special day many events take place. Throughout the years, Russian weddings have adopted many western cultures, including bridesmaids and flower girls.
Traditional wedding rituals
A friend of the bride who is already happily married places first earring on the bride-to-be.
*Paying the ransom - Once the groom arrives at the bride’s home, he must pay a ransom for the bride, a term in Russian known as “vykup nevesty”. The entire event is played out in a comical fashion and everyone is entertained. At first the groom comes and gives something (often vodka) for the bride, and so the parents of the bride bring out a woman or man (the latter for amusement) that is not the actual bride, but is dressed up like one, covered in veil, so the groom can't see the face. When the groom realizes that it is not his bride, he asks for his love, but the family of the bride will demand a bigger ransom to be paid. So, upon satisfaction with the ransom given, the bride's family give away the bride to the groom.
*Traditional Ceremony - In the next step, the bride and groom have an optional traditional ceremony in a church. In Russian this is called the “venchanie”. Churches do not have official government status and a civil ceremony must be held.
*Civil ceremony - Following the traditional ceremony, the couple must have a civil ceremony called “rospis v zagse”. This ceremony takes place at the department of public services, formally known as ZAGS. At ZAGS the couple is greeted by family members with bread and salt. The ceremony ranges from 15 to 30 minutes and during this time the rings are exchanged and the couple is pronounced husband and wife. During the civil ceremony, the parents offer the married couple two crystal glasses, which they are asked to break. The more shards of glass they create, the greater the number of years of happiness they will spend together. It is also customary for the married couple to release either balloons or, better, two white doves to symbolize their love and partnership which is written in the sky for all to see. And the bride also releases another balloon with her maiden name written on it, as she embarks on her new life.
*Tour of the city - Following the civil ceremony, the newlyweds and their witnesses, travel around the city on a limousine and view many historical sights. Sometimes very close friends join as well. This presents the primary opportunity for the majority of the wedding photographs that are taken at varying historical places around the town/city.
*Reception - After touring the city for several hours, the couple meets the guests for the reception.
**The first toast is made to the newlyweds and after the first shot, the guests begin to shout “Gorko, Gorko, Gorko,…”. “Gorko” means “bitter” and the guests are referring to the bitter wine. At this point the couple must kiss for a long time to take out the bitter taste of the wine.
**The second toast is made to the parents.
**The new couple dances the first dance of the night.
**As the night continues the guests dance, sing, play games, and make toasts.
**For the next several days, the family continues to eat, drink, and celebrate.
**It is traditional to have an entertainer, in Russian "Tamada", who organises games, the disco and ensures the guests get to know each other and are looked after.
* [http://www.barynya.com/wedding.stm Russian Wedding Tradition]
* [http://www.womenrussia.com/wedding1.htm Russian Wedding Tradition]
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