Ukrainian Wedding Traditions: What Foreigners Should Brace For?
long time. Not all couples adhere to traditional wedding rites. But Ukraine marriage customs are more common at marriage ceremonies. When you’re a foreigner who wants to marry one of the local ladies, you should learn more about Ukrainian wedding traditions!
1. Engagement and parents’ blessing
Blessing is a ritual that typically takes place shortly before the ceremony and involves the parents and grandparents giving their blessings to the couple. The old pre-wedding procedures lasted long, where a future groom would come to a bride’s house with “svaty”—Ukrainian matchmakers—to pop the question. If he got a positive answer, a girl would put a handkerchief on his wrist. In another case, the guy got a pumpkin and was “kicked out” of the house.
However, today this ritual isn’t commonly used. Typically, it happens between a man and a woman when they’re on a face-to-face date. Just like in the Western world, women expect their men to kneel down and put an engagement ring on their right-hand finger. Sometimes, Ukrainian parents ask a guy to come to their house with bread and salt, asking the permission or blessing. It happens when the family is religious.
This is one of the most favorite Ukrainian customs for a wedding. All guests gather in front of the bride’s house where the groom has to pay a ransom and ask his best friends to join him. When you’re a foreigner, keep in mind please that you should bring a gift to a bride and her relatives. While some guys offer money as a ransom, others are more creative and offer a true performance to get their bride. Also, family members can ask numerous questions, so you should prepare for them. The groom can see the bride only by answering all of them.
3. Korovai & rushnyk
These are 2 of the main attributes of any Ukrainian wedding, which are so-called talismans. The majority of rushnyks are made of natural fabric and decorated with traditional embroidery. Some of the girls make those themselves, which is long and painstaking work.
The korovai is a part of the marriage ceremony and should be laid down on the rushnyk. The parents of the newlyweds lay rushnyk in front of them, which symbolizes the protection of the marriage. Also, it’s needed to make the first step on it. According to it, who makes it first will be the head in the union.
4. Veil change and the mommy dance
Modern marriage traditions become more and more Westernized. While some weddings include a dance between the mother of a girl and her son-in-law, other families accept a dance between a young wife to dance with her father. The man can dance with his mother-in-law to the song called “Choboty.”
Ukrainian brides, by the way, are required to wear the white Ukrainian wedding dress and the bride’s veil (in old times they wore a wreath.) After the girl gets married, she’s supposed to change the veil with hustka—a headscarf (to show that she’s not single anymore)—and dance with the youngest unmarried girl.
5. Ukrainian wedding ring
While in the majority of American countries women wear their ring on the left hand, in Ukraine, brides put their wedding rings on the right hand. The ring on the left hand symbolizes a divorce or death of a previous partner. This aspect is deeply rooted in Ukrainian minds. That’s why women in Ukraine rarely wear a wedding ring on their left hand. The engagement and wedding rings belong to the traditional Ukrainian wedding gifts.
6. Ukrainian wedding music
Wedding music in Ukraine is a combination of traditional folk and Ukrainian wedding songs, with modern-day tunes. The Ukrainian wedding march at the reception which embodies the liveliness of the celebration is quite popular.
The wedding process lasts to 30 minutes, but the celebration takes several days. Generally, Ukrainian weddings has a 2- or 3-day celebration.
In Ukraine, the Ukrainian bride and groom′s families come to an agreement about who′ll pay for what. It′s not typical that one side has to pay for everything. Often, the decision is arrived upon spontaneously. However, in terms of international marriage, it’s expected that a foreigner will take the bigger part of expenses.
The ring finger in Ukraine is on the right hand. It symbolizes the direct path to the heart of a beloved soulmate.