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My trip to Ukraine — the wedding party

As I mentioned earlier I was invited to a wedding party over the weekend. In fact one of the reasons we came to Ukraine this summer is this wedding party. The wedding is of my wife’s sister and it has been meant to happen long time ago (we were planning a trip last year as well) but life makes its own corrections.

Wedding Palance in Kharkiv, UkraineUkrainian weddings don’t usually take place in Church like in the US. During Soviet times the government assigned a special official body (abbreviated ZAGS) to register marriages and little changed ever since. I have heard that lately couples do go to the Church after official part is over but this is still not very common.

The wedding palace (ZAGS building) we went to is the central one in Kharkiv and it is very pretty. I took a picture of the front (above). The place is very busy during summer time. When we came we had to wait in line for two more couples in front of us. The whole ceremony in the palace is taking just 10-15 minutes (w/o the wait time) after which the couple usually goes to the World War II Memorial.

Wedding ceremoney at Kharkiv Memorial Here is a short story of the place which was built in memory of soldiers who fought Germans in and around Kharkiv during the World War II. It is a tradition for the couple to bring flowers and spend some time in the park. To the right, you can see them go with flowers to the eternal light burning by the Stella. That little girl behind the bride is my daughter.

From the Memorial the couple and friends go to the restaurant where they spend the rest of the day. Despite the fact that religion is not a significant part of a wedding in Ukraine, the entire event is full of rituals and culturally very distinct. Every little detail has certain meaning. For example before the couple do the “I do” part they together step on a towel and whoever touches the towel first is believed to become the head of the new family.

Bread and Salt at Ukrainian WeddingAt the restaurant parents and guests (who didn’t go to Memorial and the Wedding Palace) meet the young couple with bread and salt and then the party begins. The entire restaurant was reserved to the wedding. Music, funny competitions, jokes, and a lot of toasts and alcohol.

Some of the close friends and relatives come to spend time with the young couple during the second day at their parents house. The entire day is spent at the table full of food and drinks. The “grand finale” was groom carrying his new parents in a small cart outside the house. I don’t know the exact meaning of this ritual but I was told the groom is supposed to overturn the cart in a puddle. ;-)

I would call this a middle-to-upper class wedding. My father-in-law runs a small manufacture in Ukraine which helps him to pay the bills (traditionally parents pay for their children wedding in Ukraine). I am sure there are more modest weddings in Ukraine but there is no question they all are a lot of fun!


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1 Response to “My trip to Ukraine — the wedding party”


  1. 1 Dean Jun 29th, 2007 at 6:25 am

    Nice personal touch Yen, adding this kind of content really adds a lot of depth and personality to your blog/site.

    Interesting to see the differences in culture.

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