A Russian Wedding is a truly wonderful occasion. There is a well-known song in Russia, which has the following lines (translated for you here):
"Nowadays we know our traditions not so well...
But there is nothing to compare to a real Russian wedding...
There is nothing so beautiful..."
Well, the words to the song may point to traditions not being kept, but in fact Russian people cling very strongly to their traditions, especially in post-Soviet times. With a wedding, this is certainly the case.
In olden days, when match-making was a common way of being married, a man would send his trusted representatives to the home of a potential bride. The representatives, known as Svatiy, would approach the parents of the girl and mention all of the good qualities of the groom (his wealth, house, etc). If the girl's parents were interested, the girl was then brought out to meet the Svatiy, so that they could get an impression of her to take back to the groom.
Whilst such formal match-making is not common these days, there is a traditional game, called Viykup,
played by the bride and groom prior to the wedding. The groom comes to
the home of his future bride, who is hiding. He brings gifts, money and
sweets to pursuade her family to help him find her. It is a
light-hearted, and comical occasion that is very entertaining for all!
The wedding dress should, naturally, be white. It certainly should not be blue (in Russia, this is a sign that the marriage will be a cold one), nor pink (the marriage will be very short!). The bride should not make the dress herself, nor should her mother.
The wedding takes place with a formal ceremony, and unlike
traditional Western weddings, there are no bridesmaids or groomsmen.
Instead, 'witnesses' represent the bride and groom. In Russia, the
wedding must always be officially registered with a civil ceremony. If
a couple opt for a church wedding as well, the civil ceremony will
usually take place immediately after the wedding, or often in the days
leading up to it.
After the ceremony, the bridal party tours the city in a limo (the bigger the better), taking photographs at all the main attractions and monuments.
The Wedding celebrations normally last for two to three days. In olden times, it was traditional for the bride to wear a dress she had made herself, on the second day of the wedding celebration. This was to demonstrate her skills as a good, domesticated wife. Thankfully, nowadays, a wife is seen for more than just her ability to cook, clean and sew! But many Russian women still take great pride in their skills in these areas.
The celebrations are a hugely entertaining time, with lots and lots of food, vodka, dancing, and singing. If you have not yet been lucky enough to attend a Russian wedding, then surely you don't know just how much fun they really are!