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Modern Ukrainian Wedding Traditions

Modern Ukrainian traditional wedding is a set of customs and rituals of different ages and nations; moreover, these customs and rituals are closely intertwined with each other. Exceptionally, only a few ethnic groups will be able to boast of the purity of the saved ritual while the others have ceased to perceive the boundary between the traditions of their own and traditions borrowed from other countries. In fact, the modern wedding is a fusion of all the past experiences of the people.

As in ancient times, no one abolish the tradition of marriage proposal. However, it’s slightly different ritual today. There is no longer the tradition of giving pumpkin to unsuitable fiancé as the bridegroom’s family goes to make marriage proposal only to the bride who gave consent to the marriage. Nowadays marriage proposal ritual is rather a meeting of parents of future newlyweds to discuss a celebration and agree on all the financial and organizational issues.

According to a wedding tradition in Ukraine, wedding itself always begins in the home of the bride and bridegroom. The groom dresses in his house with a tremulous anticipation to see his bride in a wedding dress, which he should not see before the wedding according the rites. As to the future bride, getting up early in the morning and having given herself into the hands of the miracle-working hairdresser, stylist and / or make-up artist, she is trying to overcome the irresistible desire to wear her breathtaking and regal wedding dress.

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Much attention is paid to one of the central rites such as to pay a ransom for the bride. The wedding morning begins, namely, with paying a ransom for the bride. Like many others, the background of this rite has a tradition of long ago origins. In ancient times, to avoid inbreeding, the bride and groom were of a different tribe or race.  Sometimes they were even from a hostile tribe. So, the groom and his friends went to a strange tribe for the bride. No one knew what they had to expect there: a fight or long persuasion of girl’s parents. Therefore, they took weapons, gifts, and money with them just in case. Nowadays, the bride is redeemed by sweets, flowers, and money. The bridegroom’s parents build various obstacles to the groom that he has to overcome.

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After desirable meeting, grooms, parents, groomsman and bridesmaid, and some other guests go to the registration office.

Then, the newly married couple and some of their friends go to the most beautiful places in their city to take the most memorable pictures.

Another ancient and obvious tradition is to welcome newlyweds with bread and salt. There was a time when bridegroom’s parents welcomed newlyweds with bread and salt on the doorstep of the house. Today, bridegroom’s parents can welcome newlyweds in café.

All the guests are usually invited to attend wedding party at a restaurant or café at 5 o’clock. Wedding party is always full of joy and fun. At the same time, this celebration is always broken with the following saying “Gor’ko!” (i.e. “bitter”) ≈ now a kiss! In Ukraine and Russia, “Gor’ko!” is a wedding-party chant urging newlyweds to kiss each other. Why is this word exactly rather than to say “Sladko!” (i.e. “sweet”)? Like many others, this custom has a long history. In the past, the bride went to each guest with a tray on which stood the filled glass; the guest put money on it, took a glass, drank, and said, “Gor’ko!” (i.e. “bitter”), – confirming that the drink was vodka, not water. After that the guest kissed the bride. Gradually, this custom was replaced by the playful requirement of new kisses from the newlyweds.

Usually, during the wedding feast groomsman and bridesmaid tie two bottles of champagne for good luck. The first bottle has to be opened and drunk at the first wedding anniversary, and the second one is drunk – on the birthday of the firstborn.

Sure, this post is not whole list of all Ukrainian wedding traditions. People in each region of Ukraine have their own wedding traditions and each of them is valuable and interesting.


At the end of this post you can find very beautiful traditional Ukrainian wedding dresses.

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