Russian Wedding Traditions Contemporary Russian wedding tradition has adopted various features of Western weddings, but certain traditions remained. Thus, usually the Russian wedding is celebrated during at least two days. The first day includes the civil ceremony, church wedding and the beginning of the wedding reception. The second day is the continuation of the party. Weddings last even more in the villages, for a minimum of three days. Before the civil ceremony there is a tradition of ransom for the bride: the groom with his best man and several close people comes to bride’s house in order to take her to the registry office where the civil ceremony takes place. But first he has to pay a ransom to his bride’s brother or other relative. Certainly, it is just a conventional joke, and ransom is conventional as well. The couple receives the ministrations from the bride’s parents at home. On their way out of the house they are awaited by all local children who expect coins from the bride’s parents. The bride and the groom are greeted by the guests in front of the registry office with bread and salt on it – this symbolizes health and wellbeing. The bride and the groom have to take a bite of the bread, and the one who bites more is considered to be the head of the family. As far as civil ceremony is the only which gives the couple the status of officially married, it is considered the most important, but more and more couples want to get married in church as well. Civil ceremony is attended by all relatives, friends and even acquaintances who won’t attend the wedding reception. There are usually a best man and a maid of honor, who are called “witnesses” (“svideteli” in Russian). Previously their role was rather functional: they literally served as witnesses of the wedding at civil ceremony, but nowadays it is just an honor to tradition. Church wedding may last for half an hour and sometimes it takes two hours.