Single men from all over the world are interested in meeting Russian beauties. Since a Russian girl from a good family and with a good education is usually very traditional and family oriented, dating her often leads to marriage. But how not to get ashamed by your bad knowledge of her traditions?
First of all, you have to know that everything you can find on the Internet about that, is rubbish. Let’s divide Russian wedding traditions into three main categories:
- Folk archaic traditions (rarely used or used for fun)
- Soviet-times traditions
- Modern traditions taken from other cultures and modified/adapted to Russian realities
In fact, Russian weddings are very different and consist of mixed traditions from all three categories. Very often, the just-married couple simply hires the professional wedding entertainer called tamada who rules the celebration and adds any scenarios or contests he wants. Sometimes the overall project of the festive evening is prepared in cooperation with the couple or their parents, but this process doesn’t have such an importance anymore.
The most important thing is that a wedding is held in a big restaurant for many guests and there are enough drinks along with the snacks. Even if the couple or their families aren’t wealthy, the table should be full of various dishes and alcohol. But it isn’t fair to say that Russian wedding lasts for 1 week. It isn’t true even in villages where people especially like to party. The myth comes from the habit to go on with an alcohol in the morning after the celebration, but that’s it.
Another myth is that singing gypsies, a bear, vodka, and balalaika are the constant attributes of Russian wedding. Some rich people may arrange such a thing but only for showing their sense of humor. It’s a complete legend and cannot be perceived as a real tradition.
Now, how to impress Russian mail order brides with your exact knowledge or their recent customs? We will list some of them:
- A bride’s family will be very touched if you visit them with the box of chocolates and the flowers (for a bride’s mother) asking for their blessing. Of course, it’s very old-fashioned but the memory about that remained in people’s minds and sentiments so they still consider such an action very sweet and reassuring. A century ago, they would probably bless you with an icon in their hands, but today, it’s very rare and even a bit wild.
- It’s an absolute necessity that you propose to your bride officially with an engagement ring. A new generation of Russian girls or even older women are all raised on soap operas and romantic movies so they actually expect this ring from you from the very first date! Proposing just on words without the ring is considered very rude and cheap. Moreover, if she and her family are religious Christians, especially Protestants, they attach great significance to the engagement and the ring itself. Accordingly to their beliefs, you can hold her hand and kiss her only after being engaged officially. But calm down, there aren’t many religious people among Russians. For the majority of them, the engagement ring is just an important sign of your prosperity and serious intentions.
- A bachelorette party is an absolute necessity, so be prepared for that. A girl will probably expect you to help in its organization financially or at least to allow her to participate. A woman from a wealthy family or the one who you used to spoil and pamper too much, will expect this kind of party to be arranged in a big way, with men’s striptease, lots of expensive alcohol and decorations. But if you are marrying a girl from a modest family, with classical values, she may arrange a quiet evening with her best female friends, a cake, and some champagne or wine.
- The “bride price” tradition is rather an entertaining game nowadays, but a girl’s parents might still want to include it to the list of necessary activities, simply because it brings extra gifts and attention to them. According to this tradition, a future husband should take his best man and other witnesses and visit a girl’s parents in the morning before the wedding. He must pretend that he is going to buy the bride, but they will challenge him with funny contests and quizzes so he must pay extra for each failure. Souvenirs and gifts can be used instead of the money.
- The marriage can be registered either in the registry office or directly in a restaurant if the notary is invited in advance. You must ask your bride in advance which way she prefers. Girls often have very exact views on this moment and can be offended if you make the choice for them. Some of them would prefer to do that in the official building and demonstrate their love victory to “all those strangers around”. Others consider this visit to the registry office very boring and prefer to sign the papers right on the celebration, as they think it’s very comfortable and luxurious.
- There are several different traditions that attempt to define who will be the leader in a family: a wife or a husband. Particularly, both of you should bite the large loaf of bread trying to take as big piece of it as possible. You should also be in hurry to step first on the embroidered little carpet/towel called roushnyk. If your mate does it first, you’ll never going to be the head of the family!
- If you are the one who is sponsoring the table or making the list of dishes and drinks, be cautious. The dishes can be modest but they should come in big quantities, as to the alcohol, it should be at least medium-priced and you have to be sure there is plenty of it. Even if some of the guests are non-drinkers, they shall make an exception for such a special case and they will definitely judge you and the whole wedding basing on the quality and quantity of the drinks. Hard-drinking Russia isn’t a myth. Only Finland can compete with this country!
- Not all Russians follow this tradition but be ready that your precious bride can be… stolen! It means the guests will simply hide her somewhere and you will have to pay the price to get her back. It’s not even about the money, instead, you should answer tricky questions and entertain people until they decide to return the girl to the celebration. This tradition was much less funny in old times when the owner of the village tried to steal the bride from simple farmers’ wedding and spend the first night with her. They could resist and prevent that only if they had the money to pay.
- A bride’s shoe can also be stolen. The fiancée had to pay to thieves to wear it back on the bride’s foot. However, this tradition is recently transformed into a very doubtful and unhealthy custom to drink from the shoe! By two different version, the victim who does that, is either the best man who wasn’t attentive enough to protect the bride from stealing, or the fiancée himself. Watch out! We truly hope your future bride is from a well-mannered and adequate family so this thing will never ever happen at your wedding… unless you want that. Let us give you a hint: you can drink from the glass which you put inside of the shoe. It counts too.
- Don’t cut the wedding cake by yourself and don’t let your bride or other guests do that. You may look silly and even spoil the celebration if you let it happen. According to the old tradition, you must cut the cake together with your bride, holding the same knife.
- Letting the white pigeons fly is a beautiful and one of the most innocent traditions of Russian wedding. It is mostly done out of the registry office or outside of the restaurant. Of course, it’s a symbolic action and it means a girl’s freedom from her parents’ will: she now starts a new life and flies away from the parents’ home.
- This tradition doesn’t have Slavic roots at all, it is adopted from European culture: at the end of the celebration, the bride throws her bouquet to a group of female guests in order to define who will get married next. This tradition isn’t stressful for you, thanks God.
As you can see, there’s nothing scary, extreme, or too exotic in Russian wedding traditions. Well, almost nothing. You can discuss the list of activities with your sweet bride in advance making sure there are no unpleasant surprises. However, her parents or friends might still want to prank you, plus, some of them will be quite drunk to the middle of celebration, so you’re never completely safe! Just try to relax and enjoy the celebration beside your beloved beauty.