My dear friend Melissa Marsack got married last weekend in Michigan. I was sad miss the ceremony, which I heard was lovely, as well as the chance to be there for such a pivotal event in her life. Since I couldn't attend Melissa's wedding, I decided to crash some local weddings instead. Well, I didn't actually crash anyone's wedding (at least not à la Owen Wilson & Vince Vaughn), but I did briefly glom on to some wedding parties in a park and snap a few photos.
The wedding tradition here, a Russian acquaintance tells me, is roughly as follows: (1) go to ZAGS, the government office, for the official exchanging of vows (this is very brief), (2) tour parks and historical sites with the wedding party and take lots of photos, (3) have a big wedding party/feast that goes on for two or more days. I've never officially been invited to a Russian wedding, so the only part I've witnessed is (2) -- walking around sites and snapping photos.
Here's a wedding from early August in Novgorod with some of the wedding party in traditional garb:
A cute wedding tradition that's cropped up in recent years is the love padlock, where couples write their names or initials on a padlock (often heart-shaped, awwwww) and lock it to a bridge. Apparently the custom was inspired by an Italian book & film and is now hugely popular in Europe and beyond. (I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that there's a Wikipedia page describing the tradition...) Many Russian bridges - especially pretty and prominent ones - are now covered in padlocks. One bridge in the center of Moscow - Luzhkov bridge - is lined with so-called "trees of love," which were placed there specially for love padlocks:
But wedding season is winding down now that it's September, so I won't be crashing any (many?) more weddings this year. And hopefully when my next friend gets married I won't be on the other side of the world.