The official registration of marriage in the City Hall starts with the sound
of fanfares. A Ukrainian embroidered towel is spread at the feet of the couple,
they stand on it and the ceremony begins. In fact, at this place, the bride groom and bride become husband and wife. Exactly, in the City Hall, the long awaited phrase "Zoya, do you agree to take Oleg as your husband, to be with him in sadness and grief, to be faithful until death separates you?" is pronounced. After the ceremony, the spouses receive congratulations from friends and relatives. The "newly-made" husband takes his wife from the City Hall in his arms. The next stage is getting married in church. This is the most touching and important moment to the couple, their parents, friends and relatives. The priest blesses the new family for happiness, health, luck, faithfulness, understanding, love and respect for one another. God's blessing is the most serious blessing for the new family. There are many prejudices connected with the ceremony in church. They say that if the bride's dress catches the fire from a candle, it means that the marriage is doomed. So it is quite understandable that the bride's mother is always very
careful in church, and does her best to prevent any of such things. The third stage of celebration is the most joyful, surprising and
unexpected things may happen this evening. The party takes place in a
restaurant, cafй or at the home of the bridegroom or bride. All the guests come
with gifts. In Ukraine, ordinary things can be presents at a wedding, which
first of all, will be necessary in a young family: kitchen utensils, linen,
home appliances, etc.
The party starts with congratulations from relatives and friends. After each
toast, the guests shout "Gorka! Gorka! Gorka!" It means that the
guests want to see the married couple kiss one another. One must note that the
number of kisses at the wedding, as some bridegrooms have noticed, exceed the
number of kisses received throughout the whole period of dating. When the guests have paid enough attention to the married couple, their
attention goes to the bride's and bridegrooms best friends. To be the best
friends of the couple at the wedding is a very honorable and responsible task.
The bride chooses her best friend (unmarried girl) who helps the bride with all
pre-wedding preparations. It is she who puts down her signature in the document
certifying the marriage. So, what is the role of the bridegroom's and the bride's best friend? They
are called "witnesses". When the guests shout "Gorko" to
the witnesses, it means that the guests want to see them kiss, too! At one of
international weddings which took place in our city, there was a funny thing.
The guests were shouting "Gorko" to the witnesses. The bridegroom's
best friend spoke no Russian, so he was not really paying attention the shouts
and continued to enjoy the delicious meal from his plate. When the interpreter
explained to him what was required, the guy blushed. Anyway, he did not refuse
from a kiss from the bride's best friend. Later on, at the end of the evening,
he asked the guests to shout "Gorko" to the witnesses again.
During the party, dancing is a must. Everybody dances, the guests, the
parents, and the newly married couple. But a dance between the bridegroom and
his mother-in-law and between the bride and her father-in-law is a must at each
wedding party. Moreover, the bridegroom must prove that he will take good care
not only of his wife, but also of his mother-in-law. In the presence of all the
guests, the bridegroom declares that he will also be kind to his mother-in-law,
and as a sign of his attention, he presents her with a pair of boots, which he
puts on her! However a trial is expecting the bridegroom. It may happen that the bride
may be stolen, and the guests will ask the bridegroom to pay 50-500 grivnas
(10-100$) for her shoes, or even for the bride herself - even a bigger sum. All guests are sure that the newly married couple will be the happiest
family. But it stirs everyone's curiosity - who will be the head of the family
- He or She? National tradition helps to clear up this issue. The newly married
are given traditional bread and they try to break it apart. The head of the
family will be the person who has got a larger part of it left in the hands!
This ritual is more like a joke on the wedding party, but as time goes by it
becomes obvious that traditional ceremonies are telling truth! At the end of the party the custom of turning the bride into wife takes
place. The bride is dancing waltz with all the young, unmarried girls present
at the party. This is a sign that every young girl has the right for happiness, family and children. However, which of the present young girls will be the
first one to get married depends on who catches the bouquet thrown by the bride
backwards, over her left shoulder!
After the bride says "good bye" to her friends (young girls), a
bride's mother's friend brings the round loaf to the bride and uncovers her
bridal veil. Instead, a Ukrainian national kerchief is placed on her head. A
young bride has turned into a married woman! The wedding is over! Long live a new family! As our foreign witness once
said, "We enjoyed the Ukrainian wedding very much! We'll come again".