Ukrainian Marriage Traditions: What To Expect?
Fell in love with a stunning Ukrainian lady? Lucky you! Marriage to such a dream woman is a life goal for many. But what to expect from the wedding itself? Are there any Ukrainian wedding traditions you better be aware of and how much do they differ from those you’re used to in your homeland? Ukrainians have big families, and it’s a must to invite them all for the wedding celebration. So, organizing everything in Ukraine instead of your country would be wise. Taking all those relatives to you might be a bit too expensive. Anyway, no matter your wedding location, don’t forget to make a Visa for your Ukrainian bride if you plan to move in together on your territory.
Here are the main things you should know when marrying a Ukrainian woman.
Everything starts before the actual wedding. Every girl in Ukraine dreams about the day when her beloved bends the knee and pops the question. Giving an engagement ring is important here. Usually, it’s a little diamond on a minimalistic ring. The ladies wear it on the ring finger together with the wedding ring after the actual ceremony all their life, so better find out what she’d love it to look like.
Ukrainian women love to take all of their wedding under control. Everything counts — music, food in the restaurant, the location itself, decoration, bride’s dress, groom’s tuxedo, and even bridesmaids’ style. Usually, there’s a certain color palette for the whole wedding and every guest should follow the dress code. You’re expected to take part in all the organizational processes as much as you can. At least, don’t interfere with it and let your beloved make it the day of her life.
Bride’s and groom’s morning
Usually, both wake up in different places. Bride starts her day at her parents’ house or her own apartment, and the groom usually books a room in the hotel for one night. A couple invite a photographer to capture the beginning of their day, catch every detail of the wedding look, and make a short clip about pleasant stress and exciting emotions of anticipation.
Purchasing a bride
No, you can’t literally buy your beloved woman. But you’ll have to pay some money still. It’s all about the ritual when the groom comes to the bride’s house and has to prove to her parents he’s ready to give everything to take her. Bridesmaids usually prepare a few funny tasks for a groom to fulfill — like questions about his bride to check if he knows her well. During this, the bride is hiding behind the closed doors, and he won’t see her until guests from her side are satisfied with the ransom. It’s usually money and horilka or any other strong drinks. It’s quite common to show a man in the bride’s veil and dress to the groom first to confuse him and make him pay more. As their little girl is much more precious than he first offers.
Couple’s parents have to give their blessing or “blahoslovennia” for the wedding before they go to the marriage registry. They do it holding rushnyk and icons in their hands, and the bride and groom bow three times in front of them. After, they all hug and kiss.
Stepping on the Ukrainian wedding rushnyk
This happens in the marriage registry. Maid of honor and the best man unfold the rushnyk in front of the couple. And after the signal, the couple has to step on it. Whose foot was first — will be the head of the future family.
Ukrainian wedding rings
Unlike your culture, wedding rings in Ukraine are always put on the right hand. Don’t mess up the hands during the ceremony. Hint: choose the finger with the engagement ring on.
After official marriage registration the newlyweds and their young guests usually go for a short photoshoot somewhere outside the city or in the most romantic neighboring locations. Usually, they also stop for a little picnic where all have a few drinks and nice appetizers. While parents go to the restaurant the celebration will take place and get everything ready for the couple’s arrival.
Parents greet the husband and wife with a korovai in their hands. It’s a special Ukrainian wedding bread. The newlyweds are welcomed to have a bite of it without their hands. The one who has a bigger piece will be the head of the family. After, they drink champagne and smash glasses on the floor. For the happiness of course.
Gifting the newlyweds
Traditional Ukrainian wedding gifts are money. All guests put them in a nice envelope. They get in line and congratulate the couple one by one. Usually, they all prepare Ukrainian wedding toasts for this moment. So, each is asked to drink horilka after congratulations and then is welcomed to take the place at the table.
There’s no Ukrainian wedding without a moderator or, as it’s called in Ukraine, “tamada”. He becomes the most important person at the celebration and is responsible for guests’ fun and entertainment. He holds funny contests, encourage them to drink, and sometimes even play Ukrainian wedding music.
This is what you’ll often hear at the wedding party. It means “bitter”. Guests shout this now and then and this is a sign for newlyweds to kiss. They do it at least every toast, but sometimes even more frequently.
This usually happens in the middle of the feast. Some guests or bridesmaids kidnap the bride (she just hides in another room). To get her back the groom and his best man have to go through a few challenges. It’s usually fun contests from the tamada and the majority of them include drinking horilka shots, especially from the bride’s shoe.
The bridesmaid gets pink sliders from tamada, and the best man gets the blue ones. They’re supposed to gather money from guests. Those who wish to couple a boy throw cash to the blue ones. Those who wish a girl put money into the pink ones. The sliders with the biggest amount of money win and indicate what gender the newlyweds’ first baby will be.
Taking off the veil
This is the final ritual of the Ukrainian wedding. The bride’s mother takes off the veil from her daughter’s head to the traditional song “Horila sosna palala”. After this, the groom’s mother put a shawl on her head instead, indicating she’s now a woman and wife already, not a girl. When the song ends, single female guests circle the bride. She dances with each of them in the center of the circle holding her veil over their heads. This way, she predicts their soon wedding. Then, the bride throws her wedding bouquet, just like in your country.
Photo and video shooting
This is a vital attribute of every Ukrainian wedding. Throughout the whole marriage day and sometimes even before and after it a couple of professionals capture the most beautiful moments from the ceremony and the feast. Newlyweds get the materials usually a month later. This is the memory for your whole life, that’s why a bride cares about this so much.
Traditional Ukrainian wedding is always about a huge celebration and a big amount of guests. Some rituals might seem odd to you at first, but getting ready for them beforehand will make you feel more comfortable. Expect to drink a lot of horilka and kiss your wife too often. Don’t you think it’ll be the most memorable experience of your life? Enjoy every moment of it!