How to celebrate a Russian Wedding: 8 of the weirdest traditions

Weddings in Moscow.

Weddings in Moscow.

Sergei Savostyanov/TASS
Weddings in Russia are big events and are associated with many rituals and games. Usually, the entire family is invited to the ceremony, there is a big feast and many merry contests are organized.

1. Buying the bride

The bridegroom with friends is paying the bride price. / Vladimir Vyatkin/RIA NovostiThe bridegroom with friends is paying the bride price. / Vladimir Vyatkin/RIA Novosti

During the wedding, the bride's friends kidnap either her or her shoe and the groom and his friends must pay a real or symbolic price for the stolen maiden.

Wedding master of ceremonies Sergei Sokolov recalls a specific occasion: "Once, the guests decided to steal the bride but did not say how she could be bought back. I said: ‘Ok, so now the bride is stolen, but how are we going to buy her back?' The guests said: 'Have the groom drink eight shots of vodka.' But if he were to drink eight shots of vodka, he’d be as good as gone too… In the end, we just organized a dance battle."

2. Proving your love

Beautiful newly married couple having traditional unity rite during wedding ceremony. / Vostock-PhotoBeautiful newly married couple having traditional unity rite during wedding ceremony. / Vostock-Photo

For this ritual, a groom must tie a knot in a kitchen towel that is as strong as his love for his bride. Then, he must untie this knot as easily as he will be able to solve future family problems.

3. Feed me

Closeup photo of bride and groom nibbling traditional loaf. / Legion MediaCloseup photo of bride and groom nibbling traditional loaf. / Legion Media

In the old days, there was a tradition where on the first day after the wedding, the new wife would bring water to her parents-in-law and help them to wash. Then, she would help them to dress before preparing breakfast. In modern Russia, the mother-in-law tests the bride's domestic capabilities right at the wedding. Prior to the wedding, the master of ceremonies asks the groom's mother which dishes he likes to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The groom’s mother creates a list of several dozen dishes and the bride must identify the groom’s favorites. If the bride guesses all of her beloved's preferences correctly, she wins the respect of her mother-in-law and is rewarded with a book containing recipes for delicious, healthy meals.

4. Distribution of household chores

The bridegroom with friends is paying the bride price. / Vladimir Vyatkin/RIA NovostiThe bridegroom with friends is paying the bride price. / Vladimir Vyatkin/RIA Novosti

Various objects such as fishing floats, brooms, frying pans, car keys and remote controls are placed into a big sack. The bride and groom take turns choosing objects from the sack without looking. For example, if the groom takes out the frying pan, he will be responsible for preparing meals while if the bride selects the float, she will have the honorable task of going fishing.

5. Know your husband by his kiss

Newlyweds kiss. / Marina Lystseva/TASSNewlyweds kiss. / Marina Lystseva/TASS

Demonstrating to the guests how well the bride and groom know each other, and how perfect they are for one another, is a traditional part of the wedding. In this contest, the bride is blindfolded and men, including the groom, volunteer to kiss her hand. She must then guess which kiss came from her husband.

6. Fill the glass

A newly wedded couple at the Griboyedovsky marriage registration hall. / Vyacheslav Prokofyev/TASSA newly wedded couple at the Griboyedovsky marriage registration hall. / Vyacheslav Prokofyev/TASS

Two participants, a man and a woman, are selected from among the friends of the bride and groom. The woman holds an empty glass between her knees and the man, who stands a good distance back from her, holds a bottle filled with water. His goal is to approach the woman and, without spilling the water, fill her glass.

7. Predicting the baby's gender

A wedding ceremony at the Griboyedovsky marriage registration hall. / Artyom Korotayev/TASS A wedding ceremony at the Griboyedovsky marriage registration hall. / Artyom Korotayev/TASS

In order to determine the gender of the couple’s future child, you will need a glue-stick, rings of pink and blue paper and a large drawing of a baby wearing diapers and a bow. The master of ceremonies blindfolds the bride and groom and invites them to tie rings onto the bow. At the end of this game, if there are more pink pieces of paper on the bow then the child will be a girl, if there are more blue ones, however, the child will be a boy. There is also a new version of this game that uses votes by text message. "I have a program," says Sokolov, "that can help you guess the gender using text messages. It is all very modern."

8. The frying pan and the ladle

St. Petersburg wedding tradition the best man is drinking from the shoe of the bride. / Vostock-PhotoSt. Petersburg wedding tradition the best man is drinking from the shoe of the bride. / Vostock-Photo

This contest involves making a lot of noise. A ladle is tied between the male participant's legs with a frying pan placed between the lady's legs. The goal is for the pair to make as much noise as possible by using the ladle to hit the pan before time runs out.

Sokolov admits that each year less of these old traditions take place at modern weddings. "A wedding is a celebration of the birth of a family and it can be done without these old traditions, especially if only young people are present at the wedding. However, there has never been a wedding without parents and some things must be done to please the older generation For mothers and fathers these things are important."

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