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Armenian Wedding

Weddings in Armenian Culture and Traditions

Are you looking for information on Armenian wedding traditions and cultures? You have come to the right place. Here is the ultimate guide whether you want to have the wedding in Armenia or you are inviting your Armenian family to your wedding here in the United States.

There are so many stages of a traditional Armenian wedding that you will have to skip some. The following is a guide to all common cultures and observances. As you prepare for your most important day, choose the ones you want to observe and get accustomed to these in advance. We recommend that you observe all of them to have a uniquely remarkable and memorable wedding.

The Formal Wedding Proposal

Although this tradition has lost its popularity in recent years, it is still important. The groom talks to the bride to ask for her hand in companionship. When she obliges, the groom then goes to the bride's family to seek their approval. It is rare for the family to decline once the woman has made up her mind.

This ceremony is referred to as Khosk-Arnel which loosely translates to asking for permission. It is only limited to the two families. The small ceremony involves an invitation from the bride's parents to the groom's parents. They come with flowers and chocolates. The two sides will engage in a talk to introduce their lineage and genealogy to make sure that the bride and groom are not related.

The Red and Green Ribbon Ceremony

Here is an old Armenian wedding ceremony that has been passed down generations across decades. It is very common in Armenia, Iran, and Isfahan. It involves the placing of red and green ribbons on the heads of the bride and groom. Red signifies sacrifice while green symbolizes fertility, peace, and abundance of life.

When the bride has finished dressing her wedding gown, a close male member of her family is invited to help her wear shoes. This is usually a brother, uncle or close family friend. Similarly to the door closing ceremony, the man can hold onto one shoe to demand some form of payment from the groom or his family.

It is traditional for all single female relatives of the bride to write their names under the soles of her shoes. This is a sign of wishing her good luck. When each female gets married in the future, the bride crosses the names out.

The Ceremony of Closing the Door

Just when the bride is ready to leave for the wedding venue, the door is closed to prevent her from leaving. This is usually done by an elder brother or such a close male member of the bride's family. He acts as a "bouncer' and is sometimes accompanied by other male relatives. They block the door to demand some kind of payment for the 'hard work that they have done' to raise the girl over the years. Often times, the bouncer holds a sword and mockingly threatens to prevent the wedding from happening.

It is dependent on the family of the groom to decide who pays up. Payments are usually in the form of money, but traditional gifts such as foodstuffs and clothes are given. It is customary for the initial offer to be a small amount of money. The bouncer examines it to determine whether or not it is enough to warrant him to opening the door.

If he is not amused, he demands more payment. All the while, he remonstrates visibly as other members of the bridal party take pictures and videos. In extreme cases, large sums of money are offered to appease the 'angry and hungry' family. In most traditional ceremonies, the father of the bride will step in to cut the deal.

The Religious Armenian Wedding Ceremony

Just like all weddings, there is the best man at an Armenian wedding. The local name is kavor or kokahayr which means godfather in English. He should be older than the groom, such as an elder uncle or even brother. He escorts the groom throughout the ceremonies. The bride can choose a maid of honor from her friends or close family member.

The wedding party splits into two groups – the bride's side and the groom's side. A bride's party is composed of her immediate family, maids, a maid of honor, and close family members. On the other hand, the groom's side is composed of his best man, groom's men and parents. Each family gathers at their own homes to dress and get ready for the function.

At around 10.00 am, the groom's family heads to the bride's parent's house. They request for the gate to be opened, upon which they join the bride's family in song and dance. Traditional foods and drinks are served as they dance around. Shortly afterward, they proceed to the church as guests cheer.

A presiding minister blesses the rings and asks the bride and groom to make their vows. In traditional Armenian history, the bride takes the name of the groom. This is a fairly short affair that is followed by a photo session. When it is over, the party proceeds to a reception at the home of the groom.

Reception at an Armenian Wedding

It is a strict tradition for the groom's family to entertain the guests, no matter how large the wedding party is. This is a sign that the man is wealthy enough to cater to the woman. It starts just after noon where a light traditional cocktail is served. The bride and groom must drink from the same glass to symbolize their newly found union.

The main course is served by butlers who walk around in large platefuls. It is believed that food has to be plentiful so that every guest can leave their blessings at the house. It features a rich serving of meat, chicken, and fish. These are accompanied by traditional Armenian potatoes, beans and an array of vegetables.

Most Armenian weddings are lavish, with the groom flashing gifts such as jewelry to the bride. Guests also shower the couple with gifts and cash. All the while, loud Armenia music plays as guests dance and drink to their fill. The wedding reception can continue up until the wee hours of the following morning. The following is common Armenia wedding music.

  • Siro Avetis by Tata Simonyan
  • Siro Or by DJ Davo & Suro
  • Taq E Taq E by Armenchik
  • Dhol Zurna
  • La La La by Super Sako & Arman Hovhanissyans
  • Harsanik E by Tigran Asatryan
  • Kiss Me by Francesca Ramirez & Armenchik

Conclusion

Your Armenian wedding should start with an official declaration by the government. You will have to pay a small fee at the registry to secure a wedding permit and certificate. Start the process right away and your wedding will be blissful.

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