Russian Wedding Traditions

Russian dating traditions seem like a delightful part of every youngster’s life. Every girl who was born and raised in a conventional environment dreams about marriage since childhood. Marriage is associated with long, puffy white dresses, fancy veils, silky gloves, bouquets, bridesmaids, and tons of presents. For men, it’s most likely large sums of money for the restaurant, tons of relatives, and a bachelor party. Yes, it is true that Russian marriages are no easier than Russian dating. You can’t just walk down the aisle and throw a big friend party. There’s gotta be a lot of relatives, pompous decorations, weird competitions, and other traditions. Here we go!

  1. Bride price
    Feminists would be furious to hear this, but in Russia, brides are still some kind of… item. It is hard to explain what the point of this event is, but it is held as follows: a husband-to-be comes up to bride’s relatives and offers them money or goods, as if she is a purchase or a treasure (that’s kind of romantic). Bride’s parents can smile and take a certain sum or turn it into a little play where they say jokes like, “So, our offer is not good enough since you give such a little price?” It’s not an insult by any means. Basically, a groom has to bribe her parents for her to change the “owner,” from family to family.
  2. A set of challenges
    While the groom has to overcome some extreme competitions on his way to his wife, the girl seems to be unbothered, just sitting in her room and waiting for him in a fancy dress, just like in the times of Romeo and Juliette! So here is how it goes: the man stands outside, while the girl is waiting inside, but they are not supposed to see each other up till the wedding ceremony. All the relatives and friends get together around the guy, setting up some challenges for him. It could be tricky questions, just like “How well do you know each other” or “What is her shoe size?” Or, again, they might ask money for “a bargain.” The competitions seem more fun when a girl lives in a high building, on, say, 22nd floor. So every floor is a level of knowing and cherishing the bride. It’s like Link or Mario who tries to overcome multiple obstacles on the way to success and love. Finally, when the good sum is given to all relatives, and all the questions are asked (oh, there can be a poetry competition as well), the groom can finally see the bride who meets him (as well as all other relatives at once, which is kind of uncomfortable).
  3. Drinking vodka from the shoe
    No, it’s not a joke and not a foot-fetish craze. It’s a tradition, although not a Russian-wide one. When all the bribes are given, the groom can drink juice out of the bride’s shoe. Or it can be a friend or the best man. Either way, the idea is pretty interesting. It means that the man is ready to accept all of the gifts from his future wife. Some men do this stuff with their mother’s in law shoe. The most modern shot glasses are already built in the shoe or glued to its sole. Sometimes they are just of decorative form to represent the old tradition of appreciation.
  4. Washing your mother’s in law legs
    Yeah, Ukrainians and Russians seem to have a thing for feet. A groom should dirty up feet of his future mother in law, and then take a tare and sink her legs in here to further wash and put her in a pair of old destroyed shoes. Why? Because he’ll buy her a new pair and give it to her after their first dance to show that there is no disgust and disbelief, as she is going to be his second mother. Sounds complicated and sketchy, but some people still follow this tradition.
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