Ukrainian Wedding Traditions

Every culture has its own rituals and traditions related to weddings, and the Ukraine is no different. Ukrainian women, like women everywhere, take weddings very seriously, and even if you’re not Ukrainian, including some of these traditions in your wedding can make it more special.

Ukrainian wedding traditionsUkrainian wedding traditions begin with the engagement. It is customary for the groom to visit the home of the bride’s parents, accompanied by two married men, to ask for the woman’s hand in marriage. If the groom is approved, the bride’s mother will bake him a round loaf of bread decorated with salt, presented on a specially embroidered towel. The bride and groom will be given towels embroidered with bird designs to wear, and gifts are exchanged. (Unsuitable grooms, however, are simply given pumpkins and sent on their way.)

The wedding ceremony itself takes place at least a week, and usually about a month, later. As in America, both the bride and the groom have private parties with their friends a few days before the ceremony. On the day of the wedding, the bride gets ready at home with her friends, and the groom comes to pick up the bride, her friends, and her parents in an elaborately decorated car. The bride’s mother is expected to toss rose leaves, coins, and/or seeds to the bride and groom as they leave the house. All of these items represent life, health, and prosperity for the new family.

In some cases, the wedding concludes with a party for all the family and guests. Some Ukrainian women prefer a tradition where the bride and groom separate after the ceremony, and each one has a meal with his or her own family. After this, the groom and his wedding party return to the bride’s house, where they stage a mock raid, playing tricks and jokes and eventually taking the bride away. These Ukrainian wedding traditions may be left over from the Ukraine’s Cossack history, when it was not unusual for a man to simply kidnap a bride from another family.

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