Traditional Weddings are still very common in Russia. Some include western traditions such as bridesmaids and grooms-men but most still have the significant aspects of a traditional wedding ceremony.
A traditional wedding ceremony in the Eastern Orthodox Church occurs in the Russian church, the vengeance. The wedding ceremony is divided into two parts: the Betrothal and the Crowning and usually takes place in the morning. The betrothal used to be blessed at the beginning of the engagement but is now usually done at the same ceremony as the wedding itself.
The bride and groom stand inside the entrance of the church and the priest blesses them and gives them lighted candles which they will hold throughout the ceremony. The priest says two brief prayers for the couple before the blessed rings are placed on the couple’s right hand. The priest then says a prayer blessing the couple’s betrothal. (Photo Credit: lkny25/Flickr)
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the sign of the marriage is not the exchange of rings that takes place at the betrothal but rather the placing of crowns on the heads of the bride and groom. For this reason, the ceremony of the wedding is referred to as the Crowning.
The priest leads the couple into the center of the church where they come to stand on a piece of new, rose-colored fabric. This is a symbol of entering into a new life.
The bride and groom profess that they are marrying at their own free will and that they have not promised themselves to anyone else. After several longer prayers, the priest places crowns on the heads of the bride and the groom. Following Gospel readings and prayers the bride and groom share a cup of wine.
A procession then occurs where the priest wraps his stole around the joined hands of the couple and leads them three times around an analogion (lectern) on which the Gospel Book has been placed. This procession symbolizes the pilgrimage of their wedded life together.
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 where the couple is greeted by family members with bread and salt. During the ceremony, 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 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, two white doves to symbolize their love and partnership. The bride may also release another balloon with her maiden name written on it, as she enters her new life.
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.
Finally, the couple meets their guests for the reception. The first toast is made to the newlyweds and after the first shot, the guests shout Gorko, Gorko, Gorko, Gorko which means bitter and refers to the taste of vodka. The couple must then kiss for a long time to take away the bitter taste of the vodka. After this first toast, another is made to the parents followed by the couple’s first dance and dancing with guests.
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.
About the author
Written by Misha Schneider. 56th Parallel is a travel company specializing in adventure, culture, and adrenaline travel and activities in Russia and Siberia.
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Article Source: Traditional Russian Weddings