Friday, August 28, 2009

A Russian Wedding

Two weeks ago, our Marianna married Evan, a young man originally from Barnayl, Siberia. The wedding was here in Rostov at the Wedding Palace, the most elegant marriage registry in the city. Say, care to come along? A Russian wedding is very special.

Here they are, in front of the Wedding Palace waiting to be invited inside. It's quite an elegant system albeit an assembly line of sorts. Marianna and Evan's wedding was scheduled for 1:20 p.m. There were weddings before and after ours throughout the day. (Click photo to enlarge.)

As per Russian tradition, the bride and groom have one attendant each and they wear red sashes. Space inside is limited so only close family and friends attend the wedding. Our group was 25 or so but afterwards more people assembled at our church building for a religious ceremony and table of sweets.

In front of the Wedding Palace, other wedding parties were waiting their turns. This bride was kind enough to hold her pose and allow me a photograph. Brides are pretty good that way. They're okay with being photographed.

What a clever idea! This photographer put the big columns to good use for posing another bride.

Eventually we were called inside and waited at the base of the golden stairway. First we listened to the attendant give her speech of welcome. And then beautiful music began to play. . .

. . .and up at the top of the stairway, a boy and girl began the wedding waltz. At this stage, mothers of the couple usually pull out tissues and start dabbing at their eyes. When the waltz is over, the entire entourage goes charging up ascends the golden stairs. . .

We reassembled in the registration room for the civil ceremony. Here a government official talks about the significance of a new family. The ceremony is conducted beneath the double-headed eagle, symbol of Russia, flanked by the flag of Russia on the right and flag of Rostov Region on the left. We were in this room 15 minutes max, but there's no sitting down.

Here Marianna is signing the marriage license. The videographer was busy capturing everything.

Next is the exchange of rings. This happens off to the left on a special carpet which symbolizes family unity. Usually couples choose simple gold bands which are worn on the right hand. After the ring ceremony our group headed to the adjoining room for the next step. But I lingered a bit to ask the musicians for how many weddings they would be playing. Can you imagine: 30 weddings that day.

The welcoming room is our next stop. Here another attendant gives her little speech for 3-5 minutes and then family and friends run over to congratulate the newlyweds. After that the mothers have their special piece of the action. They use a specially-embroidered cloth to tie together the hands of the couple. These mothers made us laugh when they tied more knots than usual and pulled extra hard. They want this marriage to last!

Extended family and friends lined up, waiting to hug Marianna and Evan.

The final step is heading down the family staircase and exiting the building. Igor had this great idea of getting Marianna and Evan to look up for the photo.

So following right along is the rest of the group. In the white shirt and tie is Marianna's brother, Artash. Happens that he's our beloved preacher. Artash did the bulk of the organizing and planning for the wedding and receptions that followed.

By the time Misha, Lyka and I were done photographing ourselves in the mirror, we missed something I had really wanted to capture. By the we got outside, the pair of white doves were flying off into the trees. I missed the release of the doves. (A lesson learned. . .)

So here they are, married. A Russian wedding is simple and elegant. For one thing, I'd say that there are significantly fewer decisions to be made than in a typical wedding in the US. Anyway, after the ceremony, we walked the short distance to our church building for a religious service.

There's much more to share about a Russian wedding: How the groom and his entourage come to the bride's home to meet the bride, barter for her - done in jest nowadays - present her with her bouquet - which is a gift from the groom - and then head toward the Wedding Palace. But thank you for joining us for Evan and Marianna's wedding. They will live in Moscow where Evan is studying at the Conservatory of Music.


Catpad said...

lovely weading! Thank you for posting it! It's great to learn about other countries tradions!

Anonymous said...

That is so interesting! Our two children came from Russia....we adopted them in June, 2008 from the Vladivostok area. We saw many brides and grooms waiting at the bus stops to head into town in the month that we were there! Never found anyone to really explain what happened once they were in town though!
found your blog through

Eileen said...

Thank you Catpad and Anonymous for saying hello. Russian weddings are great - so glad you enjoyed. Lots more wedding photos posted at my albums in an album called (something like) *A Russian Wedding*
These are from a wedding several years back - the bride was my former roommate, Natasha. Think you might enjoy them too. =)

Rob H said...

Eileen, this is a great post, very fascinating even for someone like myself who is already somewhat acculturated here, but not yet to the point of having been a part of a wedding. Very cool, thanks for sharing. I might be sharing this post with others too, because it's a great read.

Eileen said...

Hey Rob, Thanks much for your note. You reminded me, I have video to post from their "crowning" - the church ceremony that we had at our building, *just because.*

Will be fun to hear about your first Ukrainian wedding. And funeral. The passages of life are all so special, aren't they. Looks as though you all are having fun w/ the birthday party scene though! =)