Wedding celebrations in Russia are usually held during summertime. This way one can get nice photos and organize a ceremony outdoors.
Of course, there are some traditions. Just keep in mind, that not all couples are following them now. Some just arrange a small celebration in the restaurant; others just go on a trip.
In Russia, we have the bride’s ransom tradition. But, it is more of a fun, not exactly the real one. The bride’s parents “steal” her away and hide her until her partner completes a series of challenges set up by the bridesmaids. If a task cannot be completed, a payment must be made.
Russian weddings can take many forms, but a marriage is only legally recognised once you have made a trip to the registration office. Some couples choose to sneak in this formality before their wedding day to leave more time for the fun stuff.
The church ceremony is not so common. It is considered a more serious step in a relationship, so some couples organize it after several years of living together. During the ceremony, a couple receive lit candles, that they then hold onto throughout the ceremony, which includes a prayer and scripture readings. The crowning is the second part of the traditional ceremony and is where the couple stand on a piece of rose-colored cloth and the priest places the crowns onto their heads.
Once the couple is announced as newlyweds, their parents offer them two crystal glasses. They then muster all of their strength to shatter them into as many pieces as possible, as each piece signifies a year of happy marriage.
Having two witnesses was once a legal requirement for Russian weddings. While this is no longer necessary, couples still choose them and they wear special ribbons.
Once the official registration is done, the newlyweds visit special landmarks to get photos and carry out traditional things at each site. Among them is a church, where they lit candles, a monument to the World War II, where they put flowers, a bridge, where they hang a lock for long and happy life together and the most beautiful places of their city where they pose for photos.
By the end of this road-trip, everyone is very hungry and lead to a restaurant. Here, a magnificent table is waiting for them. There the newlyweds are met by their families holding a traditional bread loaf. The superstition dictates that the person who takes the biggest bite will become the head of their future household.
There is lots of eating, drinking, and being merry. And because traditionally, Russian couples marry rather early (when they are under 25), there are a lot of fun games that are played during the reception.
If you are a guest at a Russian wedding reception, you will need to be prepared to pay for the privilege of a glass, plate, and cutlery. This is in order to help the newlyweds to get an extra boost to their coffers as they start their new lives together. This tradition is now being minimized, and people are just having fun together with their family and friends.
Wedding toasts are often wrapped up with a shout of “Gorko!” which means bitter. This is a signal for the newlyweds to kiss. Guests will also count aloud how many seconds the kiss lasts for, and this is said to show the strength of their love for one another.
Usually wedding presents are practical. Lots of guests give money. Also different kinds of home appliances are popular here.