Other than mail order Russian brides, there are some different traditions that revolve around Russian weddings. Whether you are a Russian bride or groom-to-be, this is a great list of Russian traditions that may help you come up with some great ideas to commemorate and celebrate your ancestral roots of Old Mother Russia.
First off, did you know that Russian weddings are much longer than the traditional American wedding of today in that they typically go on for two full days?
THE KISS PRINT NAPKIN – Before the wedding ceremony, it’s tradition for all Russian grooms to accomplish a few prenuptial traditions. For example, when he comes to pick up his bride, the groom may be handed a napkin with lipstick prints of the bride and her attendants on it. In the unfortunate case that the groom can’t pick out which is his bride’s kiss print, he must pay a fine to the bride-to-be. In jest, Grooms who guess wrong may have to cover a shawl with money to reassure her.
PRE-CEREMONY REGISTRATION- The official traditional Russian ceremony is only one part of the entire wedding event. To start things off, the bride and groom arrive in separate cars and are lead into different rooms that are ideally a decent distance apart before filling out the regestration papers. Next, the couple wait until they are called.
PRE-CEREMONY BUTTEFLY TOSS – Once the Russian bride and groom exit the civil marriage registration office, it’s time for picture taking to commemorate the occasion. Friends and family members toss flower petals, coins, and sometimes release butterflies to wish the couple good luck. And before they leave, it’s tradition for the groom to sweep the bride up in his arms and kiss her in front of all assembled, among flying butterflies.
PRE-CEREMONY BREAD PRESENTATION – Before exiting the registration hall, a member of the bridal party, or sometimes another special person is assigned to present the bride and groom with the ceremonial bread and salt tray, which will be an interesting part of the Russian wedding tradition. Next, the bride and groom are lead into the actual ceremony hall where the actual rites and vows are to be held.
BRIDAL PARTY SASHES – It’s tradition for the best man and maid of honor to wear sashes over their clothing.
RUSSIAN WEDDING RUG – For the ceremony, the bride and groom stand on a traditional wedding carpet and the officiant reads a welcoming speech and then asks the bride and groom to confirm their reason for being there. Very much like our American tradition, the Russian bride and groom then engage in an exchanging of rings, the couples sign in the registry, and then the witnesses sign and the couple are pronounced man and wife.
BREAD BITING TRADITION – A platter of bread is presented during the ceremony to the Russian bride and groom at hand. This part of the ceremony symbolizes the hope for a healthy long life with prosperity for the couple. The bread is then bitten into by both the bride and groom, and the joke is that the one who takes the largest bite will make all the major decisions and essentially be the one who wears pants in the family!
DECORATED BRIDAL RIDE – After the wedding, the bride and groom make a nuptial tour of their town’s historic sites. To transport themselves and their guests to these locations in class, many Russian brides and grooms will hire a fancy limousine covered in with gold decorations and flowers. Quite often, villagers will see the couple’s names painted on a side window, and wave good luck in support of their neighbors’ happy day. When the couple cannot afford a limo, most just have their bridal party pimp out their ride, or borrow a friend’s car suitably tricked out ride, as well. Either way, the bride and groom ride in style.
FIVE STOP TOUR – For Russian brides and grooms the historic town bridal tour is not only a matter of showing up in a specific and often scenic location for photography reasons, the ride is a symbolic act that assures a long and happy marriage.
Typically, the bride and groom make pitstops at five different places around the city that hold special meaning for citizens. There they have post-wedding photos snapped, and at each stop-off, the bride and groom leave flowers to symbolize their contribution as husband and wife to the history of the town/village.
DOVE RELEASE – The couple sometimes simultaneously releases a white dove, as tradition, to symbolize and emphasize the purity of their love, near a waterfront.
BRIDAL RANSOM – There is also a silly tradition of “the stealing the bride”, when the groom takes his eyes off the bride, she might get stolen and the groom will have to pay ransom! All in jest, of course!
Recently at the Holiday Inn in Albany, I was the disc jockey for a real fun, high-end, Asian-fusion-themed Sweet Sixteen Party. The party was formal, and also much like an Japanese-American themed Wedding I did recently, so I thought I would throw down some ideas to help others who are thinking about a theme for their special event.
It’s okay to be different. The birthday girl at the party I did was an African-American. If you love sushi and/or Chinese food and have a huge passion for the East, who says that you can’t have an Asian-themed wedding? If you are thinking of changing things up a bit for your wedding, it doesn’t matter if the bride or groom has Oriental roots or not, it really doesn’t matter. America is about diversity. How many theme parties have you been to where the hosts actually fit the mold in their daily lives, anyhow?
Anyhow, it could be difficult and limiting to isolate your event to just Chinese or Japanese culture, since they themselves draw from so many inspirations. The modern Japanese writing system itself uses three main scripts, and one of them, Kanji, is basically made up entirely from Chinese characters/letters. Since here in the west, we often group eastern ideas and cultures together, it may be interesting to have an Asian-Fusion Theme, so you can incorporate all the fun.
WEDDING CEREMONY – For the actually wedding ceremony, there are many different eastern traditions that can easily be researched. One interesting one has the bride and groom entering the room from opposite sides and symbolically walking together. Guests then wave paper streamers over the couple’s heads for purification to keep evil spirits at away. After exchanging vows, the bride and groom each drink a symbolic glass of sake. Finally, they trade glasses nine times to symbolize their new bond.
BRIDE DRESS- Typically, a bride in Japan wears a white silk kimono that can cost over $20,000, but you can get something much cheaper here in the states, or even have something made. The fun part for the bride in Japan is that she gets to act like Lady Gaga at an award ceremony all night. Normally, the Japanese bride changes into up to five different kimonos throughout the wedding day.
Japanese brides often wear a traditional Japanese wig as part of their regalia. These wigs are very fancy and decorated in golden barrettes, pearls, and beautiful artificial flowers,
GROOM CLOTHING- On the other side of the ying yang, a Japanese groom wears all black. A “haori” on the top and a “hakama” on the bottom are the official terms of the traditional matrimonial garb.
DRESS CODE – The wedding party also dresses in kimonos, usually in a color chosen by the bride. Depending on the atmosphere you are looking for, you may want to encourage fun eastern attire from the guests as well. Warning… be forewarned that Uncle Charlie could probably show up as a ninja.
The reception is where you can really pull in the Asian-Fusion theme. There are so many options with this that there is no excuse if you fall short.
ARRIVAL – Though I will admit I have not seen this, coming in pulled on a hand-pulled rikshaw would kick some major bonsai!
DECORATIONS – There are so many options. Bonsai Tree centerpieces, Shoji paper lanterns with Japanese script, Chinese paper parasols, Lucky bamboo plants, Fancy sushi trays and dipping dishes, Cherry Blossoms, paper wall room dividers, hanging oil lanterns. Mini Sandy Zen gardens with tiny rakes. Polished river stones can act as paperweights for napkins.
PRINTING – For the invitations, print custom invitations on Japanese Fine artisan papers and make sure to include some Chinese or Japanese letters. You could also print programs on paper fans!
FAVORS – In Japan, a nickel is a beautiful cheap coin that has a hole in it. It is said to be good luck to wear this coin as a charm on a necklace. Therefore, why not give out Good Luck Japanese Nickel Necklaces? Also, every place setting could have a Lucky Red Takeout Box & Japanese Chopsticks, and Origami. You could also go with a keepsake Porcelain Chinese Takeout Box , Longevity Chopsticks in Silk Pouches, or even Personalized Japanese Wood Chopsticks. Also, fortune cookie with pre-printed fortunes, customized by the bride and groom would be a great hit!
DRINKS – Bowls of edamame beans at the bar, Sake, Wasabe Brew, green tea, or mango sodas.
APPETISERS – Sushi, sashimi, a full raw bar spread, dim sum, shrimp tempura, spring rolls, teriyaki or yakimore sticks and noodles dishes.
MAIN COURSE – Don’t even get me started.
No matter what you do, a theme wedding is the way to go. No one will forget! …And do not be afraid to play Carl Douglas’ “Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting” and The Vapors song “I’m Turning Japanese.” You know you want to!
So the ring has been given, now, what next? Is there anything important you need to think of when choosing your actual wedding date? How to choose a wedding date, is difficult and should not be taken lightly.
When you are picking a date to throw a big event like a wedding, one should approach things with a good business mind. That means, KNOW YOUR COMPETITION. Like any other important date, be smart about selection. You should act like a real good planner and think of all the reasons your guests may not be able to come on that particular day. Believe it or not, people may not make your most special date their top priority.
You probably can understand that planning a wedding on Superbowl Sunday is probably not the best idea, if you have a lot of sports fans on either side of the family. So when do you plan it?
Choosing the actual day of the week is tough, but it is not the biggest battle. Most people will agree that a Sunday or a Friday is a good idea, but Saturday seems to be even better due to commute issues for your guests either before or after the ceremony and reception. If this is true, then what you really need to focus on is which Saturday on the calendar is best to choose? To figure this out, think about which Saturday will pose the least amount of distrations to the majority of your guests.
STAY AWAY FROM HOLIDAYS – Face it. Aside from your one uncle that farts a lot, and the one cousin who gets extremely drunk even at communion, for the most part, you really want your all of your friends and family to be able to make it. However, there is one mistake that a lot of party planners seem to make… PUTTING THE DATE ON A HOLIDAY, figuring that your guests have the date off anyway.
AVOID CAUSING A BREAK IN YOUR GUEST’S POSSIBLE TRADITIONS – Yes, at first, selecting a holiday as your wedding date seems like a novel idea; getting married on Christmas Eve, or The Fourth of July, perhaps. You probably figure that most people already have that date off, and it is fun to be able to say, “we are getting married and starting our NEW lives together on NEW Years Eve!” …or something to that effect. However, placing your special date on a day where other people may already have plans, or traditions is quite often a really bad thing to do.
For one, it sometimes can make some very important people in your lives have to pick between attending either their yearly plan/tradition, or attending your function. This can upset your guests or even you when you see what their decision is. It is a bad position to put people in on both sides.
I was the DJ for one wedding that actually fell on Halloween. It was also a “no kids allowed” wedding. This meant that some of their guests had to get babysitters and also, could not go trick-or-treating with their children. So what ended up happening? Many guest with younger children left way too early for the success of the wedding reception. When it came time to dance, a large portion of the guest list had left.
AVOID PLACING YOUR DATE ON A FUN DAY – Another reason chosing a fun calendar day for your special day is not a good idea is you may loose some of the fun people who might have attended that are not all that close to you. If they are not your very best friends, but you do want them to attend, it is possible that they may succumb to the temptation of your calendar date’s competition. That can mean less people you haven’t seen in a long time, or even worse, less of a good time overall.
A good example of this might be placing your wedding date on Saint Patrick’s day. While it is not traditionally a day that people may get off of work, it is a day that many other parties and events plan on.
An Irish Wedding theme can be great! However, choosing the actual Saint Patrick’s day date for your wedding will make some of your lesser important guests to have to choose between you, and that nice pint of green beer that is waiting for them down the street at their favorite pub. Again, as a rule of thumb, keep in mind that your most special day is not always going to be THEIR most special day. And you do not want to lose guests that you value simply because you picked one day, when you could have picked another. (For some ideas on Irish theme weddings check out my blog here.)
So think twice before choosing that holiday for your special day. If you create competion for your event by choosing a bad day from the start, you are only setting yourself up for potential heartache.
If you are contemplating having a theme wedding for your special day, this can open up all kinds of fun. It really gives your wedding direction and personality. Everything comes together so much easier. The tone and decoration ideas just fall right into place, with people offering ideas and help that you wouldn’t normally get in a traditional wedding.
However, here is just a thought: wear the white dress.
While this may not matter in all cases according to the actual taste of the bride, there is some logic behind having the traditional dress kept sacred. While choosing to where the white gown may hinder some of the creative possibilities that can go a long with the chosen theme, the symbolization behind the dress may be more important.
For one, the dress symbolizes purity and class. The older guests will apprciate that the traditional bridal garb has not been kicked to the wayside.
The second important reason for the white dress is you don’t want the theme wedding to just feel like a really big costume party. At many good theme weddings, the guests are encouraged to wear something to go along with the theme. For example, if you were going to a pirate wedding, a beach wedding, or a halloween theme wedding, you can be sure that most people will dress a certain way. Having the bride still wear the white dress makes her stand out as being special.
Finally, as little girls, most bride’s envision walking the aisle and looking like a princess. On your wedding day, you still want it to feel like like a wedding and despite all the other other theme related things, the white dress will make this happen.
WEDDING THEME IDEAS – A list of different themes to pick from to liven your wedding or event
As a wedding DJ, I have seen a lot of traditional weddings. I have noticed, however, that something makes it hard for me to remember which wedding was which. If you have attended a lot of weddings yourself, did you ever notice that later on they all seem to blend together in your memory?
DARE TO BE DIFFERENT- If you really want your special day to be different and memorable, you have to take a risk and break the norm. Think about it, the traditional wedding with tuxedos and the big white dress and the huge cake is a theme now, in itself. But everyone does the traditional wedding thing, or at least some elements of it. So, do you want to stand out and have your wedding really be remembered? Do you dare to be different? There are many many ways to make your wedding stand out and be different from the rest. One sure way to do that is to add a fun theme to your special day.
PICK A THEME AND CREATE A REAL MEMORY!
KEEPING THE CLASS – Don’t get me wrong. You can keep traditions, but tradition doesn’t have to happen to the point of nausea, anymore. Keep the ceremony sacred, keep the white dress, and keep whatever you want from the traditional guidelines. But remember, guidelines are just that… GUIDELINES. When you add a theme to your wedding, the whole game changes, but you can still make it fancy and elegant, and not just a theme party.
When I got married, my wife kept the white dress so it still felt like a wedding, but the groomsmen rented high-end pirate costumes, rather than tuxes. Since it was a pirate theme, we chose to go for the movie prop look, rather than the easy cartoon-like party decorations that you could get just anywhere. That way, the pirate feel was authentic and not just a silly halloween party.
LIST OF WEDDING / PARTY THEME OPTIONS WITH “HOW-TO” HYPERLINKS FOR MORE INFO:
(A few wedding theme options on the above list are hyperlinks. For more wedding theme ideas, check out our other blogs at www.thedjservice.com/blog )
THEMES REALLY CREATE PARTICIPATION – Adding a fun theme where people actually dress the role or can participate in some fun and different way, makes everyone feel connected. Everything is united under one common idea. This idea fosters creativity and participation at the sime time. People come together and want to help you plan and even decorate. And brides, I have even noticed that when an interesting theme has been added, creative grooms buy into the planning even more. (See my not-yet written future blog here: My Pirate Wedding)
We have become one of the area’s number one choices for theme weddings when selecting a disc jockey. With my past experience in the entertainment field, as well as being a fiction writer, it only makes sense that my creative side does well with theme weddings as a DJ.
An Irish theme wedding is a perfect way to make your wedding stick out and be memorable to all the guests attending. It additionally celebrates your heritage and Irish culture, and is a great way to start your marriage.
There are many things you can incorporate into your special day. Irish traditions can be fused into your decor, ceremony, clothing, food and also reception activities.
First off, the look of the reception hall is everything. When you purchase decorations, it s easy to go with anything Saint Patrick’s day, but I would stay away from the over-the-top cartoony stuff. You can get away with some of it, perhaps at the reception, if you absolutely want to go with leprechans and pots of gold, but you really shouldn’t have them at the ceremony. Those type of decorations can make your wedding look cheap.
CELTIC WEDDING TRADITIONS
The traditional Irish Wedding Bell – A hand held “Irish Wedding bell” is sounded by the new husband immediately after the ceremony. Decoration-wise for a modern Irish wedding, small bells can be distributed as favors to your guests. These are nice keepsakes, as they replicate the symbolic Irish Wedding Bell rung at the couple’s ceremony. Guests are encouraged to ring them upon departure from the church after the ceremony, much we throw rice here in the states, or blow bubbles.
The ceremony bell is not forgotten and left behind at the ceremony as a decoration, however, with the flowers. It accompanies the new couple to their home as a momento of their vows. In fact, whenever there is an argument, it is supposed to be rung to remind the couple of their wedding vows. (ONE DOWNFALL – Everyone knows when Mr. & Mrs. O’Reilly are arguing. They sounds like the Salvation Army by Walmart at Christmas time.)
Irish Shotgun Wedding /Add Gun Fire! – If you really want to start your married life out wth a bang, another Celtic tradition is for rifles to be fired to announce that the couple have been declared now, “man and wife.”
A Horseshoe Bouquet- The bride’s bundle of flowers can hold a horseshoe inside it, to bring the couple good luck as tradition. (Just make sure to remove it before the flower toss, as getting hit with one brings bad luck and a hefty hospital bill.) A twist on this tradition is that some women also sew a tiny cute horseshoe into the hem of their wedding dress in Irish weddings.
CLOTHING OPTIONS FOR AN IRISH THEME WEDDING
The Harvest Knot – Many years ago, the men of Ireland gave their brides-to-be an accessory called harvest knots which were weavings of straw. Usually, a Harvest Knot is trimmed with flowers and worn in their hair or around your neck. You can put a harvest knot also in the flower bouquet along with the lucky horseshoe to symbolize Irish pride.
Add Irish Flare – Okay. Okay. I know this sounds cheesy, but as a twist on the Horseshoe Bridal Bouquet above, some women also sew a tiny cute horseshoe onto the hem of their wedding dress for Irish weddings. Try it! It is like bedazzling for your future good fortune!
Adding Irish Lace – A great way add Irish to your wedding attire is to mix in some Irish lace. Authentic Irish Lace is always loaded with intricate patterns and great quality. You can add lace to the veil to really bring the Irish out.IRISH FOOD OPTIONS
The Dinner – The way that the wedding guests would feast in celebration, back in old Ireland was to have a potluck meal hosted at the bride’s family’s house. Traditional Irish dishes include coddle, stew soda, Irish bread, and of course everyone loves cornbeef and cabbage.
The Wedding Cake – The Irish wedding cake is typically a heavy fruit cake with white icing. Tradition says that one of the bride’s sisters or bridesmaids is actually the one to cut and serve it. But they location of the actual cut is the strangest part of this cake cutting custom. Tradition actually has the bride seated while the groomsmen held the cake over her head while her sister or best friend cut it.
MUSIC OPTIONS WITH CELTIC APPEAL & THE MUST-HAVE IRISH PLAYLIST
Irish Bag Pipes – Rock out at your ceremony or for your introduction into the reception hall with the belting melody of the Irish pipes. Although bagpipes have Celtic roots, they are often today played by the Scottish. However, with a little research, you can find a real Irish uillean piper play at your wedding.
Celtic music can be played wherever appropriate during the ceremony and reception, as there are many varieties. I particularly recommend Celtic harp music for the ceremony for the atmosphere it sets. There are many CDs on Amazon, if you are not having a live band or musician.
Reception Dancing – Learn and perform a real Irish jig to traditional Irish music at the reception. The actual steps of Irish folkdances are called ceilidh.
Here is a good playlist of must hear Irish songs for your wedding reception:
Andres Segovia – Henry Purcell
A 12 Year Old Irish Girl In All Of Us – Flogging Molly
A Walk in Irish Rain – Irish Descendants
Ave Maria (Schubert) – The Irish Tenors
Barrett’s Privateers – Irish Descendants
Black Velvet Band – Irish Rovers
Catch The Wind (Folk) – Irish Descendants
Come on Eileen Dexie’s – Midnight Runners
Danny Boy – The Irish Tenors
Dublin in the Rare Old Times – Three Irish Tenors Farewell To Nova Scotia – Irish Rovers
Give Ireland Back To The Irish – Paul McCartney
Haste to The Wedding (Celtic) – The Corrs
I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen – Three Irish Tenors
Irish Heartbeat – Van Morrison & The Chieftans
Irish Jig – Various Artists
Irish Medley – Dixie Chicks
Jump Around – House of Pain
Mother Machree – John Gary
Old Irish Blessing – Sprague Choir
Peg O My Heart – Jerry Vale
Riverdance Soundtrack – Irish Diddy
Shipping Off To Boston – Dropkick Murphies
The Biplane Evermore – Irish Rovers
The Irish Washerwoman – Celtic Bagpipes
Tim Finnegan’s Wake – Celtic Connection
Toora-Loora-Looral Three – Irish Tenors
Traditional Irish Folk Song – Dennis Leary
Unicorn – Irish Rovers
Waltzing Matilda – The Irish Rovers
Wasn’t that a party – Irish Rovers
When Irish Eyes Are Smiling – Bing Crosby
Wild Irish Rose – Country George Jones