In the modern world the idea of “how a wedding should look like” has changed and yet all we want for this day is for it to be perfect and remarkable. It does not matter what your nationality is or where you are from because in any county a bride and groom are extremely excited on this day. But how does a wedding in Central Asia and the USA compare?
THE WEDDING IN CENTRAL ASIA
The official process begins only after the young couple get a marriage license from the head of the family and elders. It is important to mention that the direct acquaintance of the future newlyweds often happens only on the day of the wedding ceremony. The process of selecting a partner is something the child’s parents begin immediately after his/her birth. The relatives might come into the house of the bride’s son for negotiations, the results of which set the price of the bride. As a rule, the price of dowry is entirely based on the level of material wealth of the groom’s parents. Then goes the official introduction of the groom and bride. On that day, the girl should give their parents a white scarf symbolizing purity and faithfulness. If for any reason the groom or the bride refuses to marry, they have to pay a substantial fine the the family of the bride or groom respectively.
Today, wedding receptions are commonly held in hotels and restaurants, but they can also be in family homes or church halls. Eurasian and American weddings generally include the families of the couple, relatives, friends and even congregational members of the church where the wedding is held. During the celebration there will be speeches and toasts. Any wedding has food, drinks and music to celebrate. Usually the preparation takes 6 months. Preparation for the wedding reception includes making foods like curry puffs, sausage rolls, cream puffs, sambal (spicy paste), ham sandwiches and sugee cakes (made from a mix of semolina, flour and ground almonds).
The main decoration of any wedding ceremony is, of course, the costumes. The most expensive and luxurious wedding element is the bride’s dress, called saukele. A hat made of velvet is quite expensive, followed by the decoration of precious or semi-precious stones, velor, beads and so on.
There is also a well-known and old tradition called bride kidnapping. In Central Asia, bride kidnapping exists in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. But what does it mean? It all starts when the young man abducts a woman by force, often accompanied by friends or male relatives. They take her to his family home, where she is kept in a room until the man’s female relatives convince her to put on the scarf of a married woman as a sign of acceptance. Sometimes, if the woman resists the persuasion and maintains her wish to return home, her relatives try to convince her to agree to the marriage. But nowadays it is unlikely to see this old tradition being used.
The last element of this wonderful celebration is the day for thanksgiving after the wedding. Some couples may attend mass together in their wedding finery. They may also visit people who had assisted with the wedding preparations to express their gratitude and visit older relatives to express their respect. Wedding gifts are usually delivered to the bride’s home the day before the wedding. In recent times, they are given during the reception. Traditionally, gifts or silver were given but it is now common to give cash.
THE WEEDING IN THE UNITED STATES
When it comes to weddings in America lots of people think of classic-stereotype weddings which they have seen in movies. Some of the rituals are true, some of them not. For instance, there is the superstition that the groom should not see the bride in her wedding gown before the wedding. People believe that this can be capable of bringing bad luck to the couple who does the opposite. Another example might be the bridal bouquet. This old tradition of carrying a bouquet of flowers used to signify the emotions of the bride during the wedding. Also cutting the cake represents the first activity the married couple does together then they feed each other with a small bite of cake. Along with other traditions goes another one – most brides prefer to wear their old family jewellery as a symbol of being proud of their family. A very popular thing in America is when the bride and groom step on a wine glass to remind everyone that love is fragile and easily destroyed, but no matter what has happened in the past, love can and will always find a way. Last but not least is of course throwing rice- guests would throw grains at the newlyweds to ensure prosperity of the marriage.
If we take a close look at the clothes it is usually the bride who adorns a white gown. Other guests should refrain from wearing white dresses or outfits so as not to ‘steal the thunder’ from the bride. Most weddings in the United States traditionally follow the white wedding type. Wedding gifts are most commonly sent to the bride’s or host’s home before the wedding day.
Usually an American wedding has three parts. First one is when the bride and groom have their own bachelor’s party and a bridal shower. Second one is the wedding itself. Before the ceremony the couple sends invitations to the wedding guests, usually one to two months before the special day. A wedding ceremony may take place anywhere, but often a church, courthouse, or outdoor venue. In general, this will involve the guests and the bridal party including the couple, the groomsmen, bridesmaids, best man, maid of honour, flower girl and ring bearer. And the wedding reception starts after a couple say their vows to each other. After the official part goes celebration- drinks, snacks, or a full meal are served. Often, best men and maids of honour will toast newlyweds with personal thoughts, stories, and well-wishes. The last one after the wedding, the bride and groom traditionally leave for their honeymoon which could last for a few days or even weeks.
In conclusion I would like to mention that even though this amazing celebration of love is held with differences and similarities in Eurasia and the USA the main idea is still the same- it is the beginning of a new family. From the bride tossing her bouquet and wearing something old, new, borrowed, and blue, in America to the bride wearing boots with high heels, national headdress, ornaments made of feathers owl, a traditional embroidered robe- chopon in Central Asia. It is a part of the culture to have their own traditions which makes it unique and fascinating!
www.ocamagazine.com #34 summer 2020 text by Bozhena Krasnogir