Russian wedding traditions: Wedding ranks
Special people with assigned “ranks” played important role in the wedding ceremony. Each of them in accordance with his “rank” had to perform the assigned ritual function.
Druzhka (best man) - a married man aware of the sequence of ritual actions, well spoken and capable of supervising the wedding. Druzhka was the one to help the groom to overcome all the obstacles to the bride, which were put by the bride's relatives and friends.
Svat (matchmaker) - a married man (usually a relative) leading the wedding ceremony along with druzhka, who sometimes performed the same ritual acts as druzhka.
Svatya - a married woman who accompanied the bride and the groom. She helped the bride with her hair, headdress etc.
Podzhenishnik and podnevestnitsa were chosen from among unmarried young people. Their primary role was to keep the crowns above the couple’s heads during church wedding ritual. Nowadays these characters are called witnesses.
Tysyatsky – voivode (wedding general), the head of the wedding train was the godfather or the uncle of the groom.
Postelnitsa - a married woman, a relative of the bride. Her mission was to protect the bed linen of the married couple from being jinxed on the road from the bride's parental home, and during the wedding feast in the house of the groom.
Snaryadikha - a married woman, a bride’s relative, who dressed and combed the bride on the wedding day.