Ukrainian weddings hold many special traditions. Today, many Ukrainian brides and grooms choose to incorporate their own variety of customs into their celebration. Even as these customs and traditions continue to get woven with other traditions, Ukrainian weddings are traditionally three-day celebrations. Ukrainian elements can be adopted into the theme of the wedding through the use of music, decorations, clothing, and flowers. Wheat, sunflowers and poppies are commonly used in the floral design of traditional Ukrainian weddings. While cultures and traditions change and evolve with time, there are a few significant traditions that remain present in most modern Ukrainian weddings.
- The Blessing (Blahoslovennya)
Ukrainian wedding celebrations typically start off before the actual wedding ceremony. A few hours before the soon-to-be married couple departs for their Church ceremony, the couple joins their parents at the home of the bride’s parents for what is known as the Blahoslovennya (the blessing). This tradition allows the couple’s parents to bless their children and wish them a prosperous and healthy life together. With this blessing, the couple can depart for their ceremony.
- The Ceremony
Traditional Ukrainian wedding ceremonies take place in a church. Even in Ukrainian-Canadian weddings, the ceremony is often conducted in the Ukrainian language. Before the ceremony, an embroidered cloth (rushnyk) is spread across the alter to symbolize the hope that the bride and groom will never face poverty. The ceremony requires that the bride and groom put their right hands on the bible as they say their vows. This tradition is referred to as the Crowning, since crowns or wreaths are held above the couple’s heads by their wedding party to symbolize them as the king and queen of the family they are about to start together. The ceremony ends with the priest binding the hands of the bride and groom with an embroidered cloth to symbolize their union. The priest then leads the bound couple across the alter three times – these are the first steps the couple takes as husband and wife.
- The Reception
After the ceremony, the reception kicks off with a lively traditional Ukrainian dance that is performed by traditional dancers. The bride and groom, along with their guests, can join the dance at the end of the performance. Music is an extremely important aspect of any Ukrainian wedding. Many couples opt for live bands that include traditional Ukrainian instruments such as a bandura. Traditional Ukrainian food, snacks, and desserts are served throughout the night to keep the festivities going well into the night.
- The After-Party (Popravyny)
In many wedding traditions, the end of the reception signifies the end of the wedding festivities. Ukrainian tradition, however, features one more very important event. The Popravyny is held the day after the wedding and is customarily hosted by the bride’s parents. Also known as the wedding after-party, this last event is usually celebrated through a lunch or brunch. This allows the couple’s closest friends and family to join together once again to meet the bride and groom as a newly wedded couple.