Russian Wedding Traditions: Discover All You Need to Know

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Wedding ceremonies present one of the most beautiful moments in the lives of two young people while performing different wedding customs and traditions makes a great way to include relatives and friends in the act of marriage. Most Slavic nations share quite similar marriage customs, and according to traditional beliefs, their performance brings happiness and prosperity to the future married couple. Since Russians are especially famous for organizing luxury wedding ceremonies and for strictly preserving the tradition, here are some of the most important and most hilarious Russian wedding traditions.

1. Meeting-Up

As we all know, every wedding ceremony brings some pre-wedding customs. When we talk about old Russian wedding traditions, the matchmakers and the bridegroom’s relatives usually go to bride-to-be parents at the meeting. The bridegroom-to-be parents bring presents for each family member, and then they need to make ’a deal’ with the girl’s father (or mother) and to ask for her hand. The future bride also needs to be bestowed with a golden jewelry by the Groom’s parents and an engagement ring by the bridegroom.

2. Bridal Party

A day, or a few days before the wed in Russia, the couple organizes separate parties with friends. In most cases, the godmother/godfather is the person who organizes and pays a pre-wed party. It’s forbidden for men to attend the bride’s party, as well as for women to attend the groom’s party.

3. Church Wedding

Church wedding ceremony is definitely the most important part of Russian wedding traditions and customs and has become a compulsory act among today's adolescents. It shows the sacred secret of marriage guided by a priest’s act, which in the Eastern Orthodox Church brings two people together for a lifetime. A church wedding cannot be scheduled or done during the fasting, and the mandatory is that the bride and groom are baptized. The bride and groom also need to choose godparents that will stand behind them carrying lit candles during the wedding ceremony. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Godparents present the couple’s spiritual parents to whom need to be shown a great respect.

4. Flower and Money Shower

By the end of the priest’s service and while leaving the church, a married couple should get showered by lots of coins, flowers, rice, and candies. This kind of Russian marriage tradition is performed to the glory of the couple’s long marriage, happiness, and love. The bride should also exit the church by stepping on her right foot in order to have a long and successful marriage.

5. Civil Marriage Registration

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The Civil Wedding Ceremony is usually performed after the Church Wedding. The previously church-married couple should go the registry office in order to sign for a civil marriage. The last few decades, the future spouses started paying extra services for the registrar’s arrival at the place of wedding celebration (restaurant, hotel, club, or some other place).

6. Wearing Crowns and Drinking Wine

Another Russian orthodox wedding tradition is wearing crowns during the act of Church wedding ceremony. The crown symbolizes the victory over all passions, weaknesses, and temptations that the marriage couple passed before the marriage. Drinking red wine from a common cup (it symbolizes Christ’s blood) is also the main component of every Orthodox church wed ceremony, as well as wrapping the couple’s joined hands by epitrachelion (stole) during the priest’s service.

7. Wedding Ring Tradition

Russians carry wedding rings on the right ring finger which is common to all Orthodox Church believers.

8. Buying a Bride

The ritual of buying a bride represents a funny Russian wedding tradition. Namely, the groom’s brother or other relative goes to the bride’s house on the wedding day and asks for her price. Since there’s no ransom for buying a bride, the bridegroom’s relative needs to kidnap the future bride or to pay a ransom. In the end, the groom’s brother/relative/friend pays a symbolic ransom so he can take the bride to her future husband.

9. Bread and Salt

Let’s move forward to discover some more wedding traditions in Russia! One of the oldest Russian marriage customs is definitely eating of bread and salt during the wedding ceremony. The bread should be made by the bride’s mother and it symbolizes the prosperity and health. In Slavic cultures, the bread is considered for a sacred thing.

10. Honey and Nuts

In some parts of Russia, a marriage tradition of eating honey with nuts serves to improve the fertility of the newly-married couple.   

11.  Taking Pictures

After the couple signed for an official marriage registration, they usually go to take pictures at gorgeous sights and landmarks. For couples who married in St Petersburg, the most famous places are Peter Vassilevsky Island, New Hermitage Portico, and Senate Square.

12. Some Extra Payment

If you’re the guest at a Russian wedding, then you must show respect to all Russian marriage traditions, and this one includes some extra money spending. In order to help the newly-married couple in commencing a marriage, every guest should pay some extra money for the privilege of a plate and glass.

13. A Toast Is ‘a Must’
No Russian wedding would be complete without the word “gorko”. The word “gorko”, which means “bitter”, should be said extremely loudly by all the guests a couple of times in a row to encourage the kissing between the bride and the groom at the wedding party. If you’re wondering why they say exactly this word and not another, the answer is pretty simple. Since the newlyweds need to have only sweetness in their marriage, the word “gorko” is said until the guests decide whether the bride and groom added enough sweetness by their kissing. The custom is finished when all the guests say that “It’s sweet now”.