The Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) have some of the richest and most interesting Wedding traditions in the world, yet they’re hardly ever spoken about! We’ve delved through the vaults and found some of our favourite customs, so that you know what to expect if you’re invited to a northern European Wedding!
1. Getting the Father’s Permission
Much like western culture, in Baltic tradition, a Groom must ask for permission from the Father of the Bride before getting engaged. Without this paternal approval, the couple foregoes any dowry, inheritance or assistance from the Bride’s parents in future! More importantly though, it’s a great show of respect in cultural terms.
2. Engagement Gifts
It’s tradition to exchange a gift when getting Engaged and Baltic couples can give anything from silk scarves to wooden utensils to each other, as well as rings.
3. Quick Wedding
Unlike most modern couples, traditional Baltic Engagements lasted only six months, meaning the Bride and Groom had to start Wedding planning quickly! The Engagement period is considered a legally binding agreement and is almost as important as the Marriage ceremony.
4. The Bride’s Dance
Following the Bride and Groom’s first dance, all of the single men are welcomed to dance with the Bride in return for money which will go toward funding the couple’s honeymoon.
During the Wedding ceremony, Baltic Brides and Grooms are seated and the Bridesmaids hold a red or white canopy over their heads.
Image from walkingdotphotography.com
6. Part Ceremony
Lithuanian Marriage ceremonies consist of three parts; the matchmaking, the dowry and the “Atgriztai” or coming back. After a matchmaker arranges the coupling, the dowry is paid and the couple return to the Bride’s parents’ home where she is now greeted as a guest rather than an immediate family member.
7. Next Groom Prediction
After the Bride tosses her bouquet, a typical Estonian groom is blindfolded and spun around. He is then surrounded by all the single men and is expected to place his top hat on the next bachelor to be married.
8. Gift the Veil
Latvian brides wear their white gown and veil until midnight on their Wedding day, before passing the veil to one of their younger sisters who will supposedly be the next in line to get Married.
9. Mock Kidnapping
Latvian brides are sometimes mock kidnapped from the reception by the Groomsmen, who return her to the Groom after he makes some sort of payment to them (often a round of drinks).
According to Lithuanian tradition, the day after the Wedding, a young child is placed in the Bride’s lap. This is meant to encourage her to start trying for her own babies!
Main image from angelareneephoto.com