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Art & Antiques by Dr. Lori: Russian Wedding Traditions

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Around the world, weddings are special. During a recent trip to St. Petersburg, Russia, I learned how brides and grooms are the same the world over. Every couple wants to look their best, wants to participate in traditional customs, and wants to capture all of the memories of their big day.

The rich history of St. Petersburg is linked to wedding traditions. Peter the Great, the all-important Russian czar of the early 1700s, was in love with a common laundress and had 11 children with his czarina, Catherine I. She was known as the Russian Cinderella.

Today, contemporary Russian couples regularly have their wedding photographs taken in front of the various monuments, parks, and famous palaces of this canal-dominant city. St. Petersburg was established along the banks of the Neva River and it is a city of footbridges, canals, and fountains. Members of the Russian Imperial family including Peter the Great and Catherine II (a.k.a. Catherine the Great, who reigned from 1762 to 1796) commissioned the building of impressive palaces, famed museums, and monuments to the Romanov dynasty all of which now serve as city landmarks.

These monuments provide the backdrop for some breathtaking wedding photos. As in any major international city during wedding season, brides could be seen all over the city with photographers snapping photographs. Brides will be posed in front of historic palaces like the grand palace and gold onion domed cathedral built by Peter the Great called Peterhof which is known by many as the Russian Versailles.

In St. Petersburg, newlyweds participate in the long standing tradition of taking photos alongside the Romanov equestrian monument along the Neva River. Many couples take part in the age old tradition of stroking the toes of the giant Atlas sculptures at the famed Hermitage museum for good luck. The Hermitage, now a world class museum housing 3 million objects, was first built as Catherine the Great’s intimate picture gallery for her own enjoyment and that of her private suitors.

After the wedding ceremony, it is customary for Russian couples to make a tour of the city with family, friends, and photographers. This tour will take in historic sites while the bride and groom take in libations—mostly champagne and vodka—while shooting photos. Limousines, classic cars, horse drawn carriages, small canal boats, and even the historic St. Petersburg metro (one of the most efficient, clean, and architecturally interesting subways in the world) are all acceptable modes of transportation for a wedding day city tour.

Another custom associated with the special tour is the releasing of pigeons adorned with pink (bride) and blue (groom) ribbons. The highest flying pigeon predicts the sex of the couple’s first child. The afternoon of touring concludes with a wedding banquet where traditional Russian foods--borscht, pirozhi, and roasted meat kiev style—is served.

Celebrity Ph.D. antiques appraiser, author, and historian, Dr. Lori hosts antiques appraisal events worldwide. Dr. Lori is the star appraiser on Discovery channel. Check out wwwDrLoriVcom or call (888) 431-1010.

Images:
1. Bride on the wedding day city tour at the grand palace of Peterhof, St. Petersburg, Russia.

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