A Ukrainian wedding is the traditional non-amous wedding ceremony in Ukrainian culture, including in Ukraine and within the Ukrainian Diaspora. The traditional Ukrainian wedding involved a rich blend of singing, dance, and visual arts, with spiritual ceremonies dating back to early Christianity. This wedding tradition is steeped in history and spiritual beliefs. The wedding feast, which includes food sacrificed to the gods, included wine as the main beverage.
Today’s modern Ukrainian wedding traditions have evolved over time. The most popular types of marriages are the parallel or quadripartite weddings. In these types of weddings, the bride and groom take place in separate rooms. The only time they meet in the presence of guests is when the bride makes an entrance to the groom’s room accompanied by a male attendant.
The groom also has his own tent in which to celebrate the event. The tent is then decorated for the wedding. Typical Ukrainian customs dictate that the couple first comes to the tent together. They then proceed to give their wedding vows in front of the assembled guests. The couple then makes their way back to the guest’s tents where they share a dance together.
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After the couple makes their way back to their tents the bride and groom cut a ceremonial sword into the flagstaff and exchange garlands. Then the couple goes to give their first toast as husband and wife. A toast is usually made by the best man and Maid of Honor. The Maid of Honor typically says a few words as the bride responds to the groom’s toast. It is customary for the bride and groom to sit on each other’s shoulders. Then the best man gives a sword to the newlywed couple and gives them both a kiss on the cheek.
Traditions associated with weddings in Ukraine
The most common traditions associated with weddings in the Ukraine are those that deal with the groom having to rescue the bride from her groomsman. Usually this happens after the wedding ceremony, but not always. If the couple doesn’t get along well or don’t have much luck finding someone willing to rescue the bride, they may decide to do it themselves. They will take the bride from her groomsman and hide her somewhere in the grounds. The groom has to carry her to the location where the rescue party is. If he doesn’t do this, the bride and groom must be rescued by their guests.
The next tradition that is common in many traditional Ukrainian weddings is that the bride and groom have to wear matching rushnyk. Rushnyk is a kind of fabric that is used for formal gowns and evening clothes. This embroidered cloth is usually dyed in a bright red color and symbolizes the wedding party. In some traditions the rushnyk is also carried to the church and the newlyweds will kneel on it as they make their walk down the aisle. This is a symbol of blessing the new family.
The third and most important tradition is a very interesting one. It begins with the young couple walking hand in hand until they reach the church where they exchange their first steps. The goal here is for the young couple to cross the threshold of life into a married state. If the couple cannot make it across the threshold, then they have failed in their task and must try again the next day.
After the young couple makes it across the threshold of life, the wedding party must assemble outside the church. They will bless the bride and groom, give them money (korovai) and set a feast there. The next day the guests will go to the groom’s home and deliver the money and the feast to the family. This is a great way for the family to celebrate the union as well as the blessing the family received.