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Russian Wedding Traditions

What Russian Brides and Grooms Do on Their Wedding Day

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Russian Wedding Traditions

It's tradition for the best man and maid of honor to wear sashes over their clothing.

© Susan Breslow Sardone, licensed to About.com, Inc.
Russian brides and grooms celebrate their wedding day much like romantic couples the world over although they do have certain traditions unique to their country.

Russian brides seek out the fanciest dress their budget can afford (usually an elaborate white confection) while Russian grooms arrange for an appointment at a civil office where the ceremony and marriage registration can take place. The cost is approximately 60 Euros.

Traditions Among Russian Brides and Grooms

Before the wedding, it’s tradition for Russian grooms to accomplish a few tasks. For instance, 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. If he can’t pick out his bride’s kiss, he must pay a tribute. Grooms who guess wrong may have to cover a shawl with rubles.

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.

A City Wedding Tour for Russian Brides and Grooms

It’s also tradition for Russian brides and grooms in St. Petersburg to visit three to five places around the city that hold special meaning for citizens. There they have post-wedding photos snapped.

Pictures of Russian Brides and Grooms

To transport themselves and their guests to the locations in style, Russian brides and grooms hire a limousine bedecked with gold rings and flowers. Sometimes the couple’s names are painted on a side window. If the couple cannot afford a limo, any car suitably tricked out will do.

For Russian brides and grooms it’s not only a matter of showing up in a specific and often scenic location, it’s also a matter of performing a simple act to symbolically assure a long and happy marriage.

St. Petersburg Wedding Picture Locales

Out of tradition, Russian brides and grooms in St. Petersburg typically pay a visit to three to five of the following places:

  • The eternal flame of the heroes of World War II and the Bronze Horseman statue and monument to Peter the Great dominating Senate Square.
  • To the sphinx embankment on Peter Vassilevsky Island to pet the 4,000-year-old Egyptian statues and stone griffons for luck.
  • To the Rostrum Column, decorated with ship prows and surrounded by an iron-link railing. Side by side, couples pose for photos with their hands fitted inside the links to symbolize their new bond.
  • A few steps away, fountains gush in the shadow of the Peter and Paul Cathedral. And it’s tradition for couples to toast with champagne then smash their glasses against a large concrete sphere.
  • To the New Hermitage Portico along the city’s Millionaires’ Row, where giant marble Atlanti statues act as columns. Here Russian brides rub the huge marble toes for luck and pose between the statues.
  • To emphasize the purity of their love, Russian brides and grooms sometimes simultaneously release white doves beside the waterfront.
  • Couples have themselves photographed beside spectacularly beautiful and religiously meaningful structures such as the onion-domed Church of Spilled Blood.
Russian Weddings on a June day in St. Petersburg

Note: Although it takes quite a bit of planning, a visa from the Russian Embassy, and knowledge of the language or a guide who can translate, non-Russian couples are permitted to marry in Russia and their marriages will be recognized as legal. As yet, weddings between same sex couples are not permitted in Russia.

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