Russian Customs
Aug. 04, 2016
Times The Moscow

I’ve been invited to a Russian wedding. What can I expect?

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2 years, 4 months ago Times The Moscow

Tears, a brawl and the resurgence of old family feuds? Oh, sorry that’s not specific to a Russian wedding is it? We’ll try again. Before the ceremony the groom must head to the bride’s house and complete a series of challenges set by her family and friends. Mission accomplished, they’ll head to the registry office and get the official bit over with. Then the fun really begins. You know how you can’t walk two steps in Red Square without ruining the photo shoot of some loved-up newlyweds? That’s the next thing on the agenda. If you’re not invited in the limousine, rest up for the reception. Here there’ll be a tamada — a toastmaker whose job it is to keep everyone’s spirits up by, well, encouraging them to drink spirits. A warning: you’re going to be shouting “Gorko!” a lot. Translated as “bitter” this is the phrase guests will chant, scream and shout when they want the newlyweds to kiss. The thinking is that the sweet kiss will dispel bitterness of the vodka toast. The longer the kiss, the sweeter the marriage. If you see the bride being kidnapped by the groom’s friends, don’t panic. This is another old tradition in which the groom will be required to pay a bribe for the return of his beloved as a show of his affection. Have fun and remember to drink those vodka shots interspersed with mors. Otherwise you’re going to want to check out our tip on charcoal tablets.