Sunday, 24 May 2009

Ideas for your perfect wedding: marriage customs around the world

Which day remains in our memory for as long as we live?
What preceded each and every family life? Indeed, you will
agree with me, in fact, everybody will agree - it is our
own wedding day!

From as young as 12 years old I began to dream about my
future family and my wedding day! I tried to get all
possible information about wedding tips and ideas. My room
was piled up with magazines and books on weddings in
different countries, wedding traditions in different
cultures and nations. Many years passed since that time.
Till now this information helped not only me for my the
most important day in my life, but to many of my friends
and colleagues - for their wedding day. And today I would
love to share my homework on weddings with you.
Worth-trying wedding ideas from foreign cultures. Surely,
it will make your own wedding very unique and really
memorable. And here it follows... Let us take a look at
weddings in Russia and Ukraine.

Customs of weddings in Russia

Nowadays, Russian weddings come in a variety of different
forms. They can contain elements of a traditional Russian
wedding and also hints of a European or American-style
wedding. The latter have become more and more popular and
modern in recent years. True Russian weddings are unique in
the fact that they are always lavishly played out! We say
"played out," as a Russian wedding ceremony is usually
conducted as though it were a theatre spectacle where there
is a script and everyone knows their role.

In times gone by, a form of courtship would have taken
place to secure the union of the happy couple. By
tradition, the groom's parents would ask the bride's
parents for their daughter's hand in marriage for their
son. Nowadays, this tradition has become practically
extinct and only from time to time will the groom ask the
bride's parents for their daughter's hand in marriage or
request an approval of their union.

As part of the Russian wedding ceremony, people still enjoy
the tradition of ransoming the bride. Before the young
couple leave to go to the ZAGS (Registry Office), the groom
must go to his future wife's house where he will be greeted
by friends of the bride, relatives and guests. They
organise various fun games for the groom, like, for
example, asking him challenging risque questions,
persuading him to carry out certain tasks and demanding a
ransom for the bride. The groom must fulfil all the tasks,
namely, singing, dancing, reciting poetry, solving riddles
and various other challenges. Then, as a ransom, he must
give out sweets and money to all those who have arranged
the obstacles along the way to him winning his bride (in
other words, those who have set the groom challenges to
prove that he is worthy of his bride.)

There is an age-old tradition that on the day before the
wedding the bride will arrange a hen party and invite all
her friends who will support and protect her in her new
life. It is now also common for the groom to arrange a stag
party; a tradition that has been imported from the West.
The groom will say goodbye to his bachelor lifestyle whilst
in the company of his friends.

After the registration in the ZAGS or the ceremony in the
church, the newlyweds and all their guests go to the
reception which is usually held in a restaurant, a
banqueting hall or at someone's house. By tradition, the
young couple is met by the mother of the groom or all the
parents who offer them bread and salt. The young couple
must then take turns to eat the bread. The person who eats
the largest piece of bread will be the head of the
household. This equal opportunity ritual between the couple
has only been observed recently as before it would have
always been the male who would stand at the head of the
household.

It is while everyone is sat around the table that all the
guests will pass on their good wishes to the couple, raise
toasts and offer presents. By tradition, two toddlers will
be put in the centre of the room, one dressed in blue to
symbolise a boy and the other dressed in pink to symbolise
a girl. The guests will then offer sums of money to
whichever toddler they choose. The toddler who receives the
most money determines the sex of the married couple's first
child.

A fundamental component of the Russian wedding is the cries
of "gor'ko" where the newlyweds must stand and kiss for as
long as possible. All the guests stand round them and count
"1, 2, 3... 15.... 20, etc." The longer the young couple
can kiss for, the stronger their union will be. The guests
always demand that they kiss for as long as possible.
Often, the reception can be a tiring experience for the
young couple as they have to entertain their guests by this
kissing ritual.

According to European tradition, the wedding ends with the
bride throwing her bouquet over her head to all the
unmarried girls in the crowd. Whoever catches it will
become the next bride. After the ceremony has ended, the
young couple goes off to their new house or hotel. At this
point, the groom must take the bride in his arms and carry
her across the threshold; a ritual that symbolises the
strength of their union. As a rule, the young couple then
happily journey off into the sunset for their honeymoon.

Ukrainian Weddings

Given their common Slavic roots and culture, it is not
surprising that Ukrainian weddings are very similar to
Russian weddings. Having said this, there are still some
differences.

On the day of the wedding, the groom's first duty is to
pick up his bride from her house. Before he meets his loved
one he is met by relatives and friends who will demand a
ransom for the bride. This is the most special and exciting
part of the whole affair. The groom must complete several
tasks in order to demonstrate his strength and intellect.
If he fails to complete a task, then he must give out
money, sweets and drinks to the guests. The result of his
efforts is the possession of his loved one. This tradition
remains popular to this day. After the groom's challenges,
the young couple will go to the ZAGS (Registry Office) and
then the church (if they so choose). A celebration of the
events usually follows the registration of the marriage.

Nowadays Ukrainian weddings have become more equated to the
European style of wedding where the reception is held in a
restaurant or banqueting hall.

Despite the loss of some traditions, the guests still
present the young couple with a karavai loaf. As a rule,
the loaf is baked only by those women whose family life has
been very successful as it is said to bring good luck to
the young couple in their own family life. On the way to
the wedding or directly in front of the building where the
wedding feast is held, the groom and bride will release two
doves.

One of the distinguishing parts of a Ukrainian wedding is
that a giltse (a large wreath which is decorated with
flowers and ribbons) is placed on the table next to the
karavai loaf. This symbolises maidenly beauty and innocence.

On her head, the Ukrainian bride will wear a wreath with
different coloured cascading ribbons. At the end of the
festivities, the bride will throw the wreath into a crowd
of unmarried girls. The person who catches the wreath will
become the next bride. This tradition is very similar to
the European tradition where the bride throws her bouquet
into the crowd. It has been said that the European
tradition of throwing a bouquet into the crowd came from
the Ukrainian tradition of throwing wreathes, however,
nowadays Ukrainian weddings usually conform to European
traditions.

The host of the occasions will organise fun games, poems
and little ditties. Guests usually give the couple useful,
practical gifts, which will be helpful to the couple in
their married life. Accepting the gifts is no easy matter.
The bride and groom must show interest in every gift. They
must unwrap the present, study it and then express their
gratitude to the guest. The money usually goes to the
groom, and other items and flowers go to the bride.

Without any doubt, some wedding traditions are intertwined
and interrelated in all cultures. There is always room for
improvement in preparation for the moment of your dream -
wedding day. Do your own research, share ideas with others,
send me your own wedding tips - it will assist us all. Our
efforts can make a difference to make wedding ceremonies
better, brighter, more exclusive and worthy to be proud of.


About the Author:

Lilia and Alice are co-authors of inspirational articles on
marriage and wedding ideas in different countries. To learn
about unique wedding customs in FSU (Former Soviet Union)
and exotic traditions in the East, feel FREE to read &
download dozens of wedding articles in marriage site=>
http://russianwomen.marrymecity.com/russian_wedding.php