Dating & Marriage With Women From Russia, Ukraine, Belarus & FSU > Dating in the FSU and Other Countries

Inside a ZAGS wedding....complete with videos

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A ZAGS wedding is pretty much a "cookie cutter" operation with some common threads running thru the process. However depending on the size and modern facilities of your city/region, naturally there are also some variances. But the common thread remains and a ZAGS wedding is therefore easy to understand once you know it's purpose and traditions. It's just that the process if different from what we experience in the west. But it only seems mysterious. Soon you'll know more that you wanted to about a ZAGS/RAGS wedding.

We've begun, and will continue to add more, of some of the more common traditions. Hopefully in short order we'll have information about Ukrainian wedding towels, Russian wedding bread, ransom of the bride, bread dipped in salt/vinegar and honey, specific toasts, kissing etiquette and other Slavic wedding traditions. 

To begin, ZAGS (RAGS in Ukraine) is the civil registry office.  Those folks know everything--from birthdates to deaths to divorces and from the date you got your university diploma to your drivers license.  They keep records of when your children were born, and where.  They even know when your Uncle Boris was released from prison.  Heck, they are a fountain of knowledge.  Well, at least that was the idea when it started.  But ZAGS is most famous for weddings.  It's where you get a wedding permit and where (in an official wedding palace) your civil (legal) wedding will take place. 

By international treaty a marriage in Russia is legal in every western country.  So is a divorce.

Many Russian ladies want a church wedding also.  We'll explore that in detail soon but for now it's enough to understand that a church wedding in Russia or Ukraine is not a legal wedding.    To complicate matters many Russian women believe that while a civil state wedding is legal, it has no validity in the eyes of God.  So like most Russian/Ukrainian couples you may be enjoying not one, but two ceremonies for your wife to feel like you are married for real.  With that in mind we'll also be posting some videos along with explanations about Orthodox weddings very soon.

Wedding Videos.... 

Hard to imagine a Russian ZAGS (or Ukrainian RAGS) wedding without a video ordered along with the ceremony. In this edition we'll look at some general Russian/Ukrainian wedding videos from civil ceremonies.  You can be sure that the camera is everywhere from almost every angle in a civil wedding.  You can order from the yellow pages (yes there is such a thing in Russia) or you can order it when you first make arrangements at the local ZAGS/RAGS offices.

(Because so much is involved in an Orthodox wedding we'll explore that ceremony in a later edition.)

Once edited back at a professional studio, these videos show the important highlights of the wedding ceremony, the reception dinner, and the couple's traditional stop at a city square/statue/monument/park for the first toast after the ceremony.

Here we will sample several Russian/Ukrainian wedding videos. The first one is one of the most professional (and romantic) wedding clips I've witnessed:
1) This couple combined scenes from two ceremonies and also the restaurant reception. The two ceremonies take place at the Moscow ZAGS and the church wedding ceremony from one of the smaller chapels inside Christ the Saviour Cathedral.

2) They stopped at a park (it looks like the Alexander Gardens just outside the Kremlin, but I'm not 100% certain) after leaving the wedding for a Rus/Ukr tradition, to make the "first toast."  They released white doves, a favourite Russian wedding tradition (butterflies are popular also).

3) Did you catch two ring exchanges in the video?  The first was when the priest placed the wedding rings on their hands in the church ceremony.  The second was the very next ZAGS where the the rings are placed on a little round ceremonial table and the bride and groom give each other the rings during that event.  Wedding rings in the FSU are worn on the right hand, not on the left like in the USA. 

You notice that it is very rare for a local wedding to include an Engagement ring--those are primarily an western invention--imported to Russia when western men travel and not realizing that they're not necessary.  My wife said it would feel out of place on her hand--she didn't want one.

4) The wearing of crowns in the church--will be covered in an edition about Orthodox weddings.

5) Nice limo!  Took them to the centre of the city.  The Savoy is one of Moscow's finest restaurants and where they arrived for their reception on Rozhdestvenka street.

6) They used the central ZAGS in downtown, in the prestigious Palace of Weddings on Butyrskaya Street...the very same Wedding Palace where the beautiful Mrs Mendeleyeev and I were married.

7) The flowers handed to them is a tradition.  It happens at ZAGS in a receiving line after the ZAGS/RAGS ceremony.

Traditions:  On the wedding day the groom travels to the bride's home and in many cases must "ransom" her from her family (I'll write about that in great detail on a later post).  The groom "receives" his bride from the parents and then they travel together to ZAGS (usually the entire family travels with you).  Upon arrival registration is completed, documents signed and final fees paid.  Friends and family gather and the traditional walk up the wide staircase (or thru a great hallway) is made and photographed.  Then there is usually a wait and finally the wedding attendants (ZAGS employees) gather everyone for the great entrance into the ceremony hall.  The doors swing open, the music begins and bride and groom lead their party inside for the ceremony.

A Russian/Ukrainian wedding tradition is rent a bus (or carpool) so that the entire wedding party can follow the couple after the ZAGS/RAGS ceremony. First stop after leaving ZAGS is a tradition of the city or the family. A popular square or park or landmark is chosen and the entire group will stop there for photos and the "first" toast to the couple.  Just watch:  //

From there the couple and the entire party continue on to the reception dinner party: //


Are you making some Hints for ChrisM or anybody else?
 :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

Wiz, Cupid handed over quite a long list...and yours was on it too!   :saint:

What's it like at a Russian wedding party?  Well, come on baby, light my fire!

Ah, the joys of dancing at a Russian wedding. Men with men and ladies with ladies.  Professional belly dancers! A pre-rehearsed dance you and your bride will perform for your guests. Your first dance with your MIL, then with the grandmothers, aunts and her cousins. If you don't like to dance, then better find an excuse not to attend your own wedding!  //


"Калинка" is often sung at wedding parties.  At this imaginary wedding party in Moscow, with the lights of the Kremlin softly accenting the background, famous Belgian singer Helmut Lotti performs a rousing version with the wedding party singing along in true Russian fashion."
May your wedding be a "one-take" event with no edits needed for the rest of your lives!

Oh dear

looks i have to get out my beggin hat and try my luck.......

Did you know next year is a leap year?

good excuse to get out of your evil plan.... :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:


--- Quote from: mendeleyev on October 26, 2007, 04:49:41 AM ---.    To complicate matters many Russian women believe that while a civil state wedding is legal, it has no validity in the eyes of God.  So like most Russian/Ukrainian couples you may be enjoying not one, but two ceremonies for your wife to feel like you are married for real 

--- End quote ---

I had a ZAGS wedding and my ex-wife didn't press me to get married in a Orthodox church like she did with her previous husband. Of course I married a GCG.



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