You have to know that russian wedding traditions are different from what people are used to in the United States of America, Canada, Mexico or Europe. There are no rehearsals, bridesmaids, and flower girls. The best man and the maid of honor are called “witnesses” or in Russian “svideteli”. The wedding celebration usually lasts for two days and requires preparation of about 1 to 6 months. The registration of marriage takes place at the department of public services or in Russian - “ZAGS”. Nowadays many couples also choose the church ceremony. The first tradition I would like to describe is Ransom for the bride (VYKUP NEVESTY). The groom is coming to the bride's home with his closest friends and relatives. To get the bride he has to pay some ransom to the folks on the bride’s side. Everything is played out as a joke and both sides are mostly competing in the sense of humor. After getting the bride, the couple gets out of the house into the car to go for the marriage registration. On the way from the house to the car groom and his crew also have to deal with the neighbors and kids, who all want coins, candies and free drinks. In return neighbors solute the couple and sprinkle them with coins and rice. Another tradition that is unusual for the foreigners is called Civil Ceremony (ROSPIS' V ZAGSE). The civil ceremony takes place at the department of public services (“ZAGS”). At the entry to the registration hall the couple is greeted by the guests with bread and salt. Afterwards they are led by the receptionist inside the hall, where the actual ceremony is held. The ceremony is about 15 minutes long and at the end of it the couple exchanges rings, says “I do” and signs the book of registry. Then they are pronounced the husband and wife and walk out of the hall to the music of Mendelssohn played by the Russian Wedding Orchestra. The civil ceremony is an official part of the wedding but the real celebration starts afterwards.
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