Wedding Train

“Wedding procession in Moscow”, A.P. Ryabushkin

On the wedding day the groom went for the bride with the intention of taking her to the church.

The start of the wedding train (now cortege) was accompanied by rituals, which were supposed to build protection from evil forces and make sure the new family has healthy children. It all began when druzhka or svat summoned all present starting with the parents. He bowed three times to everyone who blessed the young couple and gave his thanks. Once on the train people drank homemade beer or wine in the shower of hops and oats (or other grains). Druzhka with an icon in his hands sprinkled people and horses with holy water. After all the rituals have been completed the train went to pick up the bride.

When the train stopped at the gate of the house of the bride, druzhka negotiated with her father in particular allegorical form over the locked gate: “We are the merchants trading in valuable good. We lost our way beg you to give us shelter for the night”, etc. After the talks, and sometimes cash payments, druzhka and the entire train were let into the yard.

Before departing to church the couple was crowns blessed with icon and bread by the girl’s parents. The father put her right hand into the hand of the bridegroom with the words: “Feed him, dress him, send him to work, stick up for him”. The bride, leaving home, was supposed to lament even if she was happy with the marriage. To protect the young from jinxes prior to leaving the house, relatives led them over the burning splinter, or put the burning bundles of straw on the way of the young couple to the house of the groom: on the road, in the gate, and on the threshold of the house. Druzhka with icon in hands sprinkled the wedding train with holy water.

The same rituals applied when the train departed from the bride’s home. One of the main was the shower of hops and oats on the groom, the bride and the horses. The wedding train went straight to church from the bride's home.