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Estonian Wedding 

If you have a wedding ceremony lined up soon, there are many traditions you can choose from. The only thing that can limit you is your creativity (or that of your wedding planner) and, perhaps, your partner's preferences.

If you are out for a tradition that's rich in enthralling customs, then you better opt for the Estonian wedding. Summer months in Estonia are warm, beautiful, quite fitting for a wedding ceremony.

You can spend the whole winter preparing for your wedding and then hold the service in summer. However, you can as well hold an Estonian wedding even if you are in the US, provided you know their wedding customs and traditions. Here are a few things you need to know about Estonian wedding customs and traditions.

Engagement

Engagement is still highly valued in Estonia. Usually, it is the man who approaches the woman he wants to marry so they can get engaged. It is only after the engagement that a couple can wed. It usually takes at most two years before an engaged couple weds.

Estonians believe that it is only through betrothal that a couple can end up having a happy married life. Engagement doesn't require any big party. The couple just informs close friends and family.

Hen and Stag Parties

After the engagement, what follows are the hen and stag parties. The friends of the bride and the groom organize these parties, but whatever is involved must get the couple's approval. The stag party usually involves more than the hen party.

It's packed with games and sports that keep everyone entertained. The friends of the bride can take her to a beauty salon or spa, and the take many photographs. At the end of these activities, people eat, and then they can go for a night out.

Preparations for the Wedding Ceremony

Organizing a wedding ceremony isn't an easy undertaking. That's why many Estonians nowadays hire wedding planners. A wedding is more than just choosing a venue and the theme colors. It has to reflect the couple's hobbies and lifestyles, while at the same time observing the customs. 

Place Time of the Ceremony

If you have to host your wedding in Estonia, then better slot it in summer when it is sunny and warm. Winters do get very cold in Estonia, and the weather can spoil your wedding. You can have the ceremony in July or August, and on Friday or Saturday.

As for the location, it's upon the couple to choose depending on their budget. It is rare to have church weddings in Estonia because Estonians don't belong to any particular religion.

Many weddings take place in perekonnaseisuame (Office of National Statistics). The office is in a romantic and elegant building located out of Tallinn city.  Other popular wedding places in Tallinn city include Tallinn Botanic Garden, Tallinn Town Hall, and in the many restaurants spread throughout the city.

It is in those wedding places that the marriage gets registered. In the past, wedding ceremonies used to last for many days, but today, many people prefer to have it for only one day. The couple can spend the next day with their closest relatives and friends.

If you want to host an Estonian wedding in the US, you can choose any day or month that's suitable for you, but you have to be conversant with the Estonian wedding customs to have a replica.

Let the Party Begin

Guests will congratulate the couple and wish them good luck in their marriage. This takes place after the couple gets registered. The guests will also commend the parents of the couple and their grandparents.

The coupe will also receive gifts and flowers, preferably, rosebuds from the guests. The attendees of the ceremony will observe a tradition called a wedding parade or train (pulmarong) before the reception. The couple rides in a special vehicle with the guests behind them.

The vehicle can be a classic car, a luxury car, or a limousine, and it must have decorations on it - ribbons and flowers are usually used to decorate the vehicle. The wedding train moves from the place of registration to where the reception is to take place. The drivers honk their cars, and all the guests wave at the passersby.

During the pulmarong, the couple tackles some tasks given to them. These tasks relate to their coming together to build a family and have children. And as the parade moves, other people can stop them and demand for champagne or vodka.

It is also during the wedding parade that the bride will give up her maiden name. If it doesn't happen during the parade, then it can take place later in the evening. But how does this happen? The bride's name can get written on a balloon then the balloon is released into the air. Some people accompany it with fireworks. It can also get thrown under the sea. 

Wedding Professions

At the reception, the wedding ceremony turns into a feast where people dance, eat, drink, and play games. But before the entertainment kicks off, the host (pulmaisa) gives a speech. After the address, he will give pulmaametid ('professions') to the couple and the guests. 

Professions are roles given to wedding attendees to perform. Those who now have 'professions' will get a rosette or a necklace to state their positions. Some of the professions include

 

  • Toostimeister - Toastmaster; the person who proposes toasts
  • Naisterõõm - A man who keeps women company at the party taking care of their interests
  • Laululind - The songbird; this is the person who starts songs for others to follow
  • Kummardaja - Whenever people applaud, this person stands up and bows
  • Tulejumal - The fire god; his duty is to ensure all the candles and fire are burning
  • Pruudivalvur - Bride's guard; ensures the bride is safe from those who might want to steal her

 

Food and Drinks

People eat a lot at the reception. The type of food served depends on what the couple wished to have at their wedding ceremony. There are different food stations with varying treats at the ceremony.

A station may include pastries, doughnuts, cheese, sweets, and other snacks. Drinks include both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. So you expect to see vodka, beer, wine, etc.

Today, many couples prefer to brew their beer or to print labels that match their wedding theme and stick them on the vodka bottles. After eating and drinking, the cutting of the cake follows. People eat the wedding cake with tea or coffee. The design of the cake must reflect the personalities and tastes of the couple.

Games and Traditions

Not all guests who come to a wedding know one another. So introductions will have to take place, and it will be through a game. The game for introductions can take place at the time of giving the professions.

There will be a photographer to take group photos, and each guest will strive to appear in a group photo with the couple. There can also be a photo booth with some silly items to make the day more fun. Then comes the opening dance by the newlyweds. This dance is the time many guests anticipate. Estonians prefer a Waltz.

However, other types of dances are acceptable depending on the taste of the couple. After the opening Waltz, everyone else will join in and dance the whole night. Towards the end of the party, they play another game called pruudipärja mahamängimine. This game aims to determine the ones who will marry next.

The guests will surround the couple and start singing a song about the wreath. The bride will then place the wreath on the head of a single. After that, the groom will also put a hat on an eligible man's head. These two people would be the next in the marriage line.

The bride and the groom usually choose a couple who are already engaged. So this ceremony is just to give them a push to move to the next step. Not many people prefer this method. That's why throwing of the bridal wreath is very popular. The unmarried woman who catches the wreath is the next to marry.

The Honeymoon

After the wedding, the couple goes for a honeymoon. The couple decides on the date and place for their honeymoon. The couple can wait for some weeks or months after their wedding before they go for a honeymoon. They can choose a remote location to enjoy the quietness together or go to the city at a place of their choice. There's no specific place in Estonia where the newlyweds go for their honeymoon. The destination is a choice that the couple has to make.

As you can see, the Estonian wedding traditions and customs are quite impressive. To be successful, you need to choose a qualified and experienced wedding planner. It isn't a must that you have to be in Estonia to hold this kind of wedding. You can have your wedding ceremony anywhere, provided you and your partner have agreed.

 

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