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!