Differences in Wedding Customs
My wife got extremely upset with me each time I would get up and leave her alone for a moment at our wedding. One time, I was trying to help some elderly relatives of mine get some food. After once or twice, I gave up and sat next to her.
We did not circulate around and talk with people who came to the wedding, as is the custom in America.
In Russia, each person approaches the wedding table and offers a toast. You must drink a toast with each person who comes to the table. By the end of the reception, you are dead drunk on your feet.
No one came to the table and offered a toast. My wife thought that this was rude of my guests. My guests thought we were rude for not going around to greet everyone personally.
Russians wear the wedding rings on the right hand, as opposed to Americans that wear their weddings rings on the left hand.
When my wife travels to her homeland, she switches her wedding ring from her left hand to her right hand; otherwise 'everyone will think that I am a widow rather than married.'
In Russia, it is the custom that other male guests may 'capture' your wife and hold her for 'ransom.' The bridegroom must entreat the other guests to help him gather enough money to ransom his bride. The capture and ransom are somewhat tongue in cheek, but are real enough that you won't get your wife back without paying the ransom.
We tried to have a similar type of event at our wedding, but none of the American guests understood what was going on. After her 'capture,' we passed the hat to raise the ransom money, which substituted as a kind of 'money dance.'
After we passed the hat three times to raise the ransom money, I had to sing for my bride.
My wife's name is Aksana, and I adapted the Richie Valens' song, "Oh, Donna" as a song I could sing about my missing girl, Aksana. Okay, it's a reach, but it worked somewhat. However, the whole thing came off like a skit in 'Our Gang.'
So much for trying to inject a Russian custom in an American wedding.
Russians usually drink until late in the evening sometimes until dawn.
The family of the married couple is not supposed to leave until the last guest leaves.
For Russians, a successful wedding is one where everybody must be drunk. Having plenty of food is typical for any Russian function, and a wedding is no exception. If you have enough liquor and food, the reception will be a success.
Drinking was minimal at our wedding. No one needed a liver transplant after the reception, so by Russian standards, it was a failure.
My parents are elderly and wanted to leave before dark so they could drive home.
They can't see to drive at night anymore. My wife begged them not to leave the reception 'so early before the other guests left.'
My parents felt they had to leave so they weren't a danger on the road. My wife felt as though my family 'abandoned us.'
John has been successfully married to a Belarussian wife for over five years. He has traveled extensively through Russia and other CIS countries. He will tell you why you should consider Russian women, how to meet them, how to bring your special woman home, and how to survive married life.
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