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Russian Wedding Tradition

Russian traditional wedding is different from what people are used to in the United States of America, Canada, Mexico or Europe. There are no rehearsals, bridesmaids, and flower girls. The best man and the maid of honor are called “witnesses” or in Russian “svideteli”. The wedding celebration usually lasts for two days (or more) and requires preparation of about 1 to 6 months. The registration of marriage takes place at the department of public services or in Russian - “ZAGS”. Nowadays many couples also choose the church ceremony.

PART 1. Ransom for the bride (VYKUP NEVESTY)

The groom is coming to the bride's home with his closest friends and relatives. To get the bride he has to pay some ransom to the folks on the bride’s side. Everything is played out as a joke and both sides are mostly competing in the sense of humor. After getting the bride, the couple gets out of the house into the car (usually limousine) to go for the marriage registration. On the way from the house to the car groom and his crew also have to deal with the neighbors and kids, who all want coins, candies and free drinks. In return neighbors solute the couple and sprinkle them with coins and rice.

PART 2. Orthodox Marriage Ceremony (VENCHANIE)

If the couple decides to get married in the Russian Orthodox Church, the ceremony is usually 30 to 120 minutes long with all the Russian orthodox traditions taking place. Orthodox marriage ceremony is well described in Tolstoy’s books and other classical literature. I just have to mention that the ceremony is very beautiful and is almost breathtaking both for the couple and the guests.

Russian American singles party on the boat Marco Polo "Lucille", New York Skyports, East 23rd Street & FDR, New York City, NY

Popular Russian DJ BARNAUL plays mix of popular European, Russian, American music of 80th, 90th and current hits. Host Russian-American MC Misha, guest performers Belly dancer Angela, singer Aleksander Menshikov. To buy tickets on-line go to


PART 3. Civil Ceremony (ROSPIS' V ZAGSE)

The civil ceremony takes place at the department of public services (“ZAGS”). At the entry to the registration hall the couple is greeted by the guests with bread and salt. Afterwards they are led by the receptionist inside the hall, where the actual ceremony is held. The ceremony is about 15 minutes long and at the end of it the couple exchanges rings, says “I do” and signs the book of registry. Then they are pronounced the man and wife and walk out of the hall to the music of Mendelssohn played by the Russian Wedding Orchestra. The civil ceremony is an official part of the wedding but the real celebration starts afterwards.


After the official part, it is customary for the bride and groom, and some of their close friends and relatives to go on a tour of the historic sites of the city, taking pictures and drinking champagne. In Moscow, popular stops include the Red Square, Grave of the Unknown Soldier and Sparrow Hills near Moscow State University. Usually by the end of the tour many guests are already singing and dancing.

PART 5. Russian Wedding Reception (GULYANKA)

But all of the above is just a prelude to the main celebration – the gala feast! Unlike wedding receptions in the West, Russian wedding receptions are very loud and they last for two days or sometimes even longer. They include a lot of Russian music, singing, dancing, long toasts, and the abundance of food and drinks to go with it. The guests love to sing Russian traditional songs to the sounds of accordion, bayan or garmoshka.


It is offered to the newlyweds by both parents as a symbol of health, prosperity and long life. Both bride and groom must take a bite of the bread and the one that takes the largest bite will be the head of the family!


At the beginning of the reception a relative or close friend makes a wedding toast to the bride and groom. By Russian tradition everyone throws their champagne glasses on the floor and it is considered a good luck if the glasses break when they hit the ground.


The groom should constantly keep his eyes on the bride. If the bride gets out of the groom’s sight, she could be stolen by his friends and the groom will have to pay the ransom.

PART 5. Day number two

Celebration goes on with no less fun than the day before. After some rest more drinking, singing, dancing, and fighting takes place. Never miss the second day of the traditional Russian wedding. I played my garmoshka (Russian button accordion) and balalaika at over 500 Russian weddings. There is a rule that the second day of the Russian wedding celebration is even more fun than the first day.

Traditional Ukrainian Russian American wedding video

Andrij Cybyk and Natalia Ejova wedding on Saturday, August 29th, 2009. The Wedding took place at the Ukrainian Estate "Soyuzivka" (up-state New York). Russian MC and singer Mikhail Smirnov, singers Valentina Kvasova and Alexander Menshikov. Video of the first part of the reception - Velichanie and traditional Russian "Grand Entrance".

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В середине июля 2007 года я получил электронное письмо от Джефа Хилтона (JEFF HILTON), организатора свадеб из штата Теннессии.  Клиенты этого господина собирались пожениться в городе Мариетта (штат Джорджия) в воскресенье, 14 октября 2007 года. Жених и невеста желали порадовать своих гостей русскими танцами, песнями и игрой на балалайках.   По словам мистера Хилтона, кто-то из знакомых порекомендовал ему наш ансамбль Бырыня как самую лучшую группу в Америке в этом жанре.  Я подумал про себя, что этим знакомым нужно почаще бывать на свежем воздухе, но такому предложению порадовался. 

Единственное, что меня смутило, так это то, что устроитель свадеб писал слово “я” с маленькой буквы ("
i"), а также в конце письма не было у него длинной подписи с указанием вебсайта, телефона, факса, электронного ящики и прочих вещей, которыми всегда заканчиваются электронные послания людей такой профессии.

В субботу 13 октября нас пригласила ассоциация любителей балалайки из Атланты (
The Atlanta Balalaika Society) в качестве гостей принять участие их концерте. 14 октября мы могли бы по пути остановиться на пару часов в Мариетте, там поиграть на коктейлях с нашими музыкантами, Лешей Синявским и Лёней Бруком, потом сделать небольшое шоу с танцорами во время свадебного банкета, перекусить, и с песнями да плясками ехать обратно в Нью-Йорк. Всё как будто складывалось очень удачно.

Мы довольно часто выступаем на свадьбах, где жених или невеста имеют русские корни. На таких мероприятиях все гости обычно говорят по английски, а балалайка контрабасс вызывает у публики живейший интерес.  Многие трогают инструмент за гриф и струны, а певец Саша Меньшиков при этом объясняет на своём безупречном английском, что только самые обеспеченные балалаечники могут себе позволить приобрести конрабас.

В середине сентября я напомнил мистеру Хилтону про первоначальный взнос (
deposit)... читать историю полностью


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