Russian Wedding Customs

Wedding traditions are unique all over the world. There is one thing that Russian weddings are known for, and that is being a lot of fun. These are some of the interesting customs and traditions of Russian weddings.

In many ways, Russian weddings are simpler than those in the United States. The guest lists are shorter (usually under 100), there is not a wedding party, and in general, less fuss is made about details like the flowers and music. What is important is having a really, really fun party with an abundant supply of alcohol and food.

It all begins when a man asks a woman to marry him. Couples tend to marry younger in Russia; 18 -22 years old is a common age. There is not usually an engagement ring, and the engagement is normally only a few months long. This makes sense when you keep in mind how much less elaborate the wedding arrangements are.

One of the most entertaining events of the wedding day is when the groom shows up at the bride’s house to escort her to the ceremony. He is greeted by the bride’s friends who set us a series of challenges that he must pass through before they will let him see his bride. The groom is allowed to bring along his own friends to help him. Eventually, of course, the groom will be allowed in.

All couples in Russia must be married at the Registry office to make it official. A short church ceremony can follow the civil service, if desired. Generally there is a small group of witnesses present for the ceremony, with most of the guests making their appearance at the reception. The ceremony can be very amusing, with funny scripts being read by the close friends and family members of the couple.

Traditional Russian wedding attire consisted of an elaborately embroidered pinafore worn over a fancy blouse. Pearl bridal jewelry has been worn by Russian brides for hundreds of years, and still is today. In addition to a pearl necklace, another popular form of bridal jewelry in Russia was a string of turquoise beads, which represent fidelity. These days, Russian brides wear white wedding gowns very similar to what is worn in Western countries, although they are more likely to be handmade by the bride or her mother.

The ceremony is followed by a reception at a restaurant or home, and this is when the party really gets started. The bride and groom will be greeted with many toasts, such as “Za molodykh!” (for the newlywed), and there is much cheering and kissing. Many of the assembled guests will offer up a toast to the bride and groom, and at that time will give them a gift (cash is customary). After the toasting there will be eating, dancing, more eating, and plenty of drinking.

The day after the reception, the immediate family and close friends will get together again at the home of the bride or groom’s parents. There are lots of games and funny events designed to raise more money for the newlyweds. For instance, guests are often told that they have to “rent” their forks and knives for eating. Traditional foods are served, such as borsch and ukha (fish soup).

The two days of revelry surrounding a marriage in Russia usually take place on a Friday and Saturday, which gives everyone Sunday to recover from having so much fun. And they will need it, since it is considered rude to stay sober at a Russian celebration! This may be why the Russians are known for having such fun weddings.