International photographer Olga Saliy

Russian wedding: tradition and and reality

August 25, 2014  by Annatamila  •  Russia photography  •  7,901 views

Russian wedding traditions

Русский текст >>

The modern tradition of a Russian wedding in many ways consonant with the traditions of past centuries and with the habits of the USSR era. This is a very slowly transformed to the present – only the really strong and independent people can do it. I often take part in the Russian weddings as a photographer and I can distinguish the following peculiarities of the Russian wedding traditions:

1. Most newlyweds intrinsically resistant to common traditions and habits, and do not wish that their wedding would be held “like everyone else”, but usually as a result it turns out “like everyone else”.

2. The Russian people are learning from birth to be a very responsible and very important for us the opinions of others people. And therefore our attitude towards ourselves is very critical. It defines the basic style of shooting a Russian wedding – a portrait, directing and Photoshop. Russian is not so much like of reportage photography.

3. In Russian weddings normally have a large amount of alcoholic beverages.

So. Modern Russian wedding – what is it?

The bride and groom in Russia make a decision about the wedding itself. It is possible that parents can know about the wedding of “children” after registration. But usually all the relatives and friends in the Russian Facebook ( know about the wedding in advance. Day of marriage registration (in russian language the word “marriage” with the word “defects” (“brack”)) we plan to approximately 1-6 months before.

These six months, the bride lives in constant stress. The groom is not very much involved in preparing and keeping calm. The bride is preparing for a wedding in a dream and in reality. This is necessary to have time to make the guest list, find a cafe or public feeding (as a dining room) for a banquet, think about places to walk around with a photographer, to find normal shoes, thingies for the dress and so on. In this sense, the Russian tradition are the same with other countries. In general, for some brides life six months before the wedding – this is the real madhouse.

Wedding dress of the bride traditionally has a white color. Before the wedding of Catherine II the dress in Russia was red. Now white wedding dress in Russia is a symbol of clean and chastity. But the white color was taken from ancient Greece – there it was a symbol of joy and prosperity. Queen Catherine married in a white dress, and at that moment the Russian tradition totally changed.

Wedding day like any other country begins with hairstyles, makeup and dressing. This happens in all different ways: the bride can do hair and makeup in the beauty salon with a trained hairdresser and makeup artist, and maybe in her own room with improvised tools.

Bridegroom need much less time and effort to prepare:)

But he has other severe tests (to decorate the car, get a wedding bouquet and so on).

At this time, the bride has a real stir. Of course! It’s not just buy a bunch (bunch of pre-chosen of bride.) The bride should keep control of how to put hair, lace dress and stuff like that – it’s much more serious.

Parents and friends are involved in the preparation of the bride, too. They are worn around the apartment, checking about all the bottles were transferred to the car, is it realy enough sandwiches for a walk, is it everything ready to meet the groom and may be he has already arrived.

And then drove a car with the groom. And it starts …repayment of the bride. This procedure takes place in the entrance of the bride’s house.

The ransom is perhaps the oldest tradition, preserved in a Russian wedding. The point of it is fun. Bridesmaids should be as fun to torture the groom, to ask him a bunch of stupid puzzles and tasks, and thus to obtain a ransom from him – it can be money or any sweets that the groom was not sorry to give for the bride.

The bride meanwhile completing her preparations.

If she does not have time, then the groom get more puzzles.

In the end, the groom can enter the house, but now he must find a real bride. Because deception is waiting for him again.

Eventually he finds a bride, and all drank the champagne on this occasion. Then is the time, the roots of which have survived from antiquity to the present, when the bride’s mother passed the “talisman” to the daughter. It could be jewelry or some sort of family heirloom. Talismans are greatly appreciated, and can not be sold. The bride, in turn, transferred it to his daughter on her wedding day. In today’s weddings is also sometimes occurs.

After that, all people go to the registry office – rather semiofficial institution in which the bride and groom become husband and wife.

On the threshold of registry office to the bride and groom pulled up the other guests – relatives and friends. It is hard to tell what’s going on here: meeting friends .. or may be farewell to single life). And so, at exactly the scheduled time all gests come inside.

At the wedding ceremony the couple signed some document (I’ve never read it, even when I signed it myself.) Couple gives formal consent to official women (female employees registry office) that they will marry on their own. Then there is an exchange rings and kiss. All this takes about 5-10 minutes, because dozens of other newlyweds are waiting for them outside the door. Queues – it’s a Russian tradition too.

And then it happened! Now all gests congratulate the couple and go out into the street, to drink champagne about this subject.

But now starts may be the most grueling part of the wedding day (this depends on the imagination and the cruelties of the photographer :) – a walking tour :)

Actually sometimes all of these traditions are broken. I remember one wonderful wedding in Kronstadt. It was only three people at a wedding – I am, the bride and groom. When the couple left the registry office, we went to the cafe, where they took out their cell phones and call their parents to report that they are now husband and wife. Up to this moment no one knew anything about wedding. That was cool.

So – time for a walk. Someone is going to all sorts of urban monuments, to make “a portrait in the background,” someone has actually come off according to their fancy.

Well, finally tired couple and a photographer go to a cafe. The relatives and friends who did not participate in the walk are waiting for their.

Guests are sprinkling with a couple of grains and coins. It is a symbol of wealth and prosperity. To pour sweets symbolizes a sweet life, and confetti – a symbol of a bright and romantic life.

Then the parents give the loaf to new husband and wife. This is also an old Russian tradition – from the loaf at the same time a husband and wife bite off a piece. Who has a more piece supposed will dominate in their life together. It’s like a sign. And then begins the banquet.

To get started guests opens a bottle of alcoholic and drink about this. Then they all scream “Bitter!” and the husband and wife who are already incredibly tired and hungry should postpone their spoons, forks, stand up and kiss.

From this point the script wedding completely into the hands of one man – Tamada. This is also an ancient tradition, but it was transformed into a bit of modernity. Previously, all day at the wedding was the main “Druzhka.” He oversaw the observance of traditions and help maintain the fun. It was a very wise and important person in the genus. But now the tradition has changed. “Druzhka” is called “Tamada.” She is starting only at that moment, when tired and hungry guests and the newlyweds arrive at the cafe and sit at the tables.

Then begins the fun, drinking alcohol, strange competitions, giving gifts, and dancing.

Sometimes the holiday lasts till next morning. In the morning guests wake up in different places at home, eat breakfast and go home.

(c)Olga Saliy photography



  • comment
    Mariya Maydanova June 7, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    greats photos!

  • Hannes Uys July 27, 2013 at 11:40 am

    Such a beautiful post Olga!! Love it!

  • Anna July 6, 2014 at 10:34 am

    Hi there!

    I really like the idea of this post and photos are truly lovely and depict the reality of the Russian wedding. However, I would recommend you get some help from a professional translator (or a native English speaker) to help you correct some of the mistakes that spoil the overall impression. Good luck!

    • Annatamila July 6, 2014 at 11:07 am

      Anna, )) thank you I will definitely

  • Ritesh Gaur December 2, 2014 at 7:55 am

    Impressive work my friend. Thanks for sharing :)

  • Dima January 14, 2015 at 8:42 pm

    Very low level propaganda against russia and the men. Or you are hurt or you are not Russian. I feel sorry for you as you have anger but maybe you are the one full of self pride that blinded you and gave more importance to marriage than the choice of your partner. If you have this experience you are to blame. If you feel so superiore but yet you select such an inferior you have no cause to biasimate as you are guilty as such.
    It was up to you. Maybe next time find a better man. They exist.. If you canget them..

    • Annatamila January 15, 2015 at 4:22 am

      Dima, not so serious, just fun and life. Take it easy )

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