Fairytale Wedding in Russia
How are weddings celebrated in Russia?
- Ransoms: This tradition comes from the south of Russia. The bride is kidnapped by friends and on the morning of the wedding the groom must try to win her back. Generally, this is done by bribery but sometimes dancing or even drinking contests are held.
- Trickery: When the hopeful groom comes round in the morning to collect his bride, some devious parents-in-law present him with another woman dressed in a wedding gown and veil or, if they’re feeling especially mean, they might even dress-up a man!
- “Gorka!”: This one word can be heard at every single Russian wedding. It means bitter and guests chant this at the after-party so as to implore the new couple to kiss earnestly and therefore bring sweetness where once there was bitterness.
- Predictions: After the wedding ceremony, Russians have fun by trying to predict what gender the couple’s first baby will be. Before this used to be done by bits of paper, but now the predictions are often made by text!
Rossiya—that word alone elicits images of opulent churches, resplendent palaces and breathtaking cathedrals. In summer, equally stunning gardens form blooming borders to Russia’s countless palaces and the soft trickling of fountains, tucked away in shady corners, set the pace to the lovely and long days during white nights. And, in the seemingly endless winter, the sparkling white of snow softens the edges of Russia’s formal landscapes; making for a veritable winter wonderland. A more magical setting to say “I do” couldn’t have been dreamt up. Russia is the place where fairytales really can come true.
A historic city need not be very old. Such is the case with St Petersburg. The city of dreams or, more specifically, of Peter the Great’s dreams has only been around for a little over three centuries, yet its streets are as rich in stories as the ancient cities of the Golden Ring. As the seat of the Romanov family, the city’s grand squares have seen an endless stream of royal wedding carriages roll through them. Though royal weddings are no longer, partners can still declare their love for one another in much the same way as the tsareviches and tsarinas did. At all the palaces and manors listed below weddings of all shapes and sizes can be effortlessly organized.
The baby blue façade, edged with touches of white and gold, of Tsarina Elizabeth’s beloved summer retreat makes for an ever so romantic backdrop. Its acres of elegantly structured gardens and wide, open vistas are reminiscent of Versailles. Though outdoor weddings are all the rage, it would be a mistake not to take advantage of the exquisite rooms within the palace when planning a wedding. Many of the lavish halls within the palace were designed by one of the greatest architects of all time, Rastrelli and the Amber room is considered to be one of the most beautiful rooms ever created.
For those wanting a more low-key, natural wedding, the estate where Catherine Palace is based, Tsarskoye Selo, has a few smaller palaces and pavilions on the grounds. The bright and airy halls of the Cameron Gallery, for example, with French doors opening up onto a lovely terrace and a grand marble staircase make for a simple yet classy backdrop for a wedding ceremony. While the intimate pavilion on the island, set in a forest of trees, has interiors that are almost splendid as the Catherine palace.
St.Petersburg, Pushkin, Sadovaya str. 7
T: +7(812)465 2024
In the very heart of St Petersburg lies an island full of rolling meadows, flower beds and oaks. Apart from being the city’s most treasured weekend spot, it’s also one of the most popular wedding venues. Though the charming Yelagin palace is out of the reach of most Russian couples, brides and their grooms often come after the nuptials to release balloons and pose on bridges arching over the canals.
St.Petersburg, Elagin Island, 4
T: +7(812)430 1010
Yes, in Russia it’s even possible to get married in a museum! For a wedding that will have a lasting impression on your guests, the majestic Marble Hall of the Ethnographic museum is sure to take everyone’s breath away. Just imagine waltzing past the rows of 24 ton rose-colored columns with a vast crystal ceiling above and a sprawling marble floor below; it’s the stuff dreams are made of.
St.Petersburg, Inzhenernaya str., 4
T: +7(812)570 5768
Due to their historical significance, some of St Petersburg’s palaces can’t be rented out in their entirety; however, the Marble Palace is an exception. Built for Catherine the Great’s lover, Count Orlov, the palace was made to be as rich and lavish as possible. With three-tiered chandeliers and mirrored ballrooms, all the ingredients for a royal wedding are to be found within this rather imposing building.
St.Petersburg, Millionnaya st., 5/1
T: +7(812)595 4240
So affluent were the Yusupov family, that they were said to have more riches than the Tsar. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that their family seat in St Petersburg, the Yusupov Palace, is perhaps one of the most lavish buildings in the city. Despite its beauty, the mansion isn’t as popular with couples as other palaces. Perhaps the fact that Rasputin was murdered in the basement puts people off…
St.Petersburg, Naberezhnaya Reki Moyki, 94
T: +7(812)314 9892
In the heart of Russia, the country’s glitziest and most glamorous shindigs are held. Helipads, floating stages and musical fountains are commonplace at wedding venues. Any desire, no matter how fanciful or flamboyant, can be fulfilled: the question is not ‘how?’ but rather how much one is willing to spend.
Royal Yacht Club
Only a few minutes’ drive from the city center lies one of the most glamorous wedding spots in Russia. With a Michelin-level restaurant (which can accommodate 500 guests), chic terraces, floating stages and faultless service; it’s no wonder so many celebrities have chosen to say ‘I do’ here. Naturally, plenty of fun can be had with the many gorgeous boats at the yacht club (imagine the entrance you could make, arriving by speed boat!).
Leningradskoye Hwy, д. 39/6, Moscow, 125212
T: +7 (495) 961-88-66
Perhaps one of the most endearing estates in Moscow, the former home of the Sheremetyevo family has been capturing people’s hearts and imaginations for centuries. People travel especially to Moscow to see its sprawling English gardens and classical architecture, walk through the long, shaded alleys and lounge by the estate’s many ponds. Along with a magnificent palace, the estate is also home to a traditional orthodox church where the wedding rites can also be read (if the couple is orthodox, that is) and a stable of horses which can be ridden through the grounds, just like in times gone by. And to really feel like King and Queen of the world, the estate in all its entirety can be rented out for the wedding day.
Uniquely, the staff at Kuskovo can arrange entertaining quests for guests, so it isn’t all oldie-worldie.
Ulitsa Yunosti, 2 стр.1, Moscow, Moscow Oblast, 111402
T: +7 (495) 375-31-31
Four Seasons Hotel Moscow
The most iconic hotel in Moscow is undoubtedly the Four Seasons. Looking directly over the Red Square, it’s as central as you can get and, despite its soviet-esque exterior, it is in reality as modern as it gets, having been opened in 2014. Smoke machines, floating bouquets and ice sculptures, have all been used to make the most memorable weddings. For the wedding of your wildest dreams, trust the team at the Four Seasons to make it all come true.
Ulitsa Okhotnyy Ryad, 2, Moscow, 109012
T: +7 (499) 277-71-00
One of Catherine the Great’s many ambitions was to build an Imperial estate for herself in the south of Moscow. Unfortunately, she died before she could see the surreal beauty of her pet project. Nestled within its picturesque, 405 hectares are countless greenhouses, pavilions, palaces and more that date back to the 18th century. Though the whole estate cannot be rented out, the main manor house can be fully disposed for a wedding ceremony and after-party. In fine weather, newlyweds have the option of exploring the estate on horseback or by boat and giant outdoor tents can be set up on the lawns.
Dol'skaya Ulitsa, 1, Moscow, 115569
T: +7 (495) 322-44-33