Russian American wedding

My Wedding

By Marina Garcia

Russian-American weddingAt last I am in America. Long correspondence is over as well as meetings and long separation, paperwork and visa acquirement. The day of the wedding had already been established and we had to finish off the last minute preparations.

My wedding was truly fantastic!!! It took place in the house and backyard of my husband’s brother, George. George and his wife had probably been preparing the house and the garden for our wedding for a whole month. They had to clear off enough space to accommodate about one hundred relatives.

All my husband’s sisters came the morning before the wedding to decorate and arrange the garden for the ceremony. I was not in the house at that time because the tradition goes that the bride and the groom are not supposed to meet before the wedding. At that time I was with my sister and her husband.

Russian brideTwo hours before the wedding we arrived to George’s house to get dressed and prepared for the wedding. By that time the garden was decorated wonderfully. There were garlands, ribbons and flowers all over. The garden was lit with lanterns. After my sister helped me put on my wedding gown, a priest came into our room to announce that the groom had already arrived, that he was excited, and that it was time to start the ceremony.

An altar was put up in the garden; all the guests sat down on the chairs arranged in rows, and the wedding ceremony had begun. First, came the groom with his best man. Then slowly and gracefully my sister followed with a bucket of flowers in her hands dressed up in a long dress. She was the maid of honor. I was the last to go down the isle accompanied by my sister’s husband who played the part of the father who was to hand the bride over to the groom.

The priest said the prayer and married us. We swore our love, exchanged the rings and kissed under the applause of the guests. The whole wedding was recorded on film by my husband’s numerous relatives.

Wedding cakeMy husband Edward ordered for me a huge cake with live flowers and a water fountain inside. Edward’s older brother invited a Mexican Mariachi band. Dressed up in national costumes they sang and played almost all musical instruments. The music was lively and wonderful and the singers had the strong, clear and beautiful voices. Edward and I stood and listened. Everything was like in a fairy tale.

MariachiNow let me tell you how people drink and eat at American weddings. Self-service is a custom. Everybody came up to the buffet line, took whatever he or she liked and later disposed of the plates. Alcohol was not served during the meal, only refreshments. There was no overeating like it often happens at Russian weddings. Once everyone ate they began to dance and have fun. Edward and I sat at a separate slightly elevated table. It was placed on the open verandah of the house while the guests were seated in the garden. Edward’s son and daughter from his first marriage brought us food. Light alcoholic beverages were offered later: champagne, wine, beer and cocktails. Of course there were no overly drunk guests.

However, according to the Russian tradition, the hosts poured Edward and me some vodka. We drank and everybody cried “gorko” (‘bitter’), but of course in English, and we kissed to everyone’s delight. The guests did not drink vodka, they weren’t offered, and as a matter of fact they don’t even know what it is. Many people didn’t drink any alcohol at all because it was against their religion, but everyone had fun.

Later I was tossing a bucket of flowers into the crowd of single girls and the one who caught it was very happy. According to the belief she should marry soon. After that my husband took a garter off my leg and tossed it into a crowd of single men. I wanted my step-son to catch it because Edward said that it was time he got married, but someone else got lucky that day.

FamilyI have to say that people in my big and friendly family are very kind and fun-loving. Everyone danced and socialized because they gather together like that only for special occasions. I would like to say a few words in particular about my husband’s mother, sisters and brothers. All of them were sincerely happy that I became part of their family and told me: “Welcome to our family.” Edward’s mother met me very warmly and told me that everybody liked me and that I should say “thank you” to my mother. Of course I did not expect such warm welcome and I was truly happy.

When the wedding was over I regretted that it passed so fast, like a dream. However to prove that it was all real we received a marriage license, many pictures and video tapes. I am very grateful to my husband and to all of his family, which now has become mine as well, for arranging a beautiful wedding which I will never forget.

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