Here comes the bride, all dressed in white. Hearing those Russian wedding bells lately? Russian weddings might be similar to a western weddings but of course there will always be a hint of tradition in it somewhere. If you’ve never been to a Russian wedding and you’ve just been invited to one, here are a few things that you would expect to happen.

Setting the Date

You’ll probably need to remember this name: ZAGS, because this is the name of the local Registry office. The couple would have to go down there and then set a date to when they want to get married. Rescheduling the marriage date is, most of the time, not an option because it is believed to bring bad luck to your union. In that unlikely event, however, you need to wait one month and a day to set another wedding date.

Working for it

As we said earlier, Russian weddings still have a sense of tradition to them and part of that tradition would be to set up obstacles for the groom before he can pick up his bride at her house during the morning of the wedding. He has to pay a buyout for her and the obstacles he must face may include in depth interview questions or something as silly as dancing or singing.

Once the groom passes they will head off to ZAGS in separate cars.

The Ceremony

These days, there may be Russian weddins fashioned exactly to the western ones but usually, in Russia, the ceremony is short and sweet. As soon as the couple reaches ZAGS, they would say their vows or “I do”s, swap rings, sign and then out they go. It’s that quick.

As soon as they come out, relatives, friends, and others are already ready to shower them with coins and petals. This is a good set-up for a photo opt so the photographer, before going to major locations in the city for more photographs, snaps away.

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Kissing Trigger Word

If you want a couple to kiss at western weddings, the best thing to do would be to softly hit your wine glass (or whatever glass you may have near you) with your spoon, fork, or knife to make a clinking sound. In Russian weddings, there’s a trigger word and that is “Горько!” Pronounced as GOR-KO [GOR’-ka].

Take note of this when you’re already at the reception.

The Eating and Dancing

So the groom has gotten his bride, they’ve been registered at the ZAGS office, they’ve taken a city tour and have taken a lot of wedding pictures to last a life time, the only thing left to do is the reception.

Remember the word that we told you about earlier? Gorko? Well, in Russian weddings, Gorko means bitter and usually the guests yell it out in order for the couple to kiss. It’s not that they wish for the couple’s relationship to be bitter but they’re saying that the drinks (alcoholic) are really bitter so they have to sweeten it up with a kiss.

The couple must kiss for as long as the guests are saying the magic word. If they don’t kiss long enough, guests might say it again and again.

Expect that the reception will be full of games involving shoes or babies’ clothes, expect a lot of eating, a lot of dancing and of course drunkenness. All of these are handled by the MC.

Alex Vidal