Sunday, October 10, 2010
The Best Ukrainian Wedding So Far, Part 3
Just a few thıngs to add pertaining to the ceremony: if everything had gone according to bygone tradition, the wedding procession would have been headed up by a wailing woman, not by Cousin Arsen's band. Back in the day, every village had a so-called "wailing woman," who led both funeral and wedding processions. Her function at the former was obvious, but at weddings, it was her job to announce to the village that all happiness for the bride was over and that she now served her husband. Yeah, weddings were not thought of as especially happy occasions. Maybe that's why everybody looks so grim. Anyhow, another practice that has fallen by the wayside is the bride's father bestowing upon the groom a stick with which to beat his daughter when she got out of line. Those two things used to be fairly major components of the ritual. Thank God they're done with both of them. Another thing they're slowly phasing out is the two-day reception - the first night at the bride's house, the second night at the groom's. When Cousin Arsen got married to his first wife, Zoriana, they had a two-day receptionç At the end of the second night, they both looked like thy were ready to die. Perhaps the one-day marathon reception is a better choice. And speaking of that...
Cosmopolitan, suburban Hrimailiv was the location. They've got this hall that was renovated special for these kinds of function. In fact, Cousin Vasily had his reception here in August. In the dining hall, the chairs match and all the tables are the same height, so yeah, real class. There's just one thing: no restroom. No running water, no nothin'. You gotta use the outhouse. But that's OK, everybody's used to it. OK, so I arrived with more than three dozen well-wishers in the precariously overloaded bus. There was no sign of Ivas and Oksana, so we waited. And waited. And so on. Cousin Arsen explained that they were visiting the cemetary to pay respects to Oksana's mother. Eventually they did arrive:
Then everybody lines up to congratulate them. Monetary gifts go in the box:
There's all this handshaking and kissing that goes on till the very last person has done their handshaking and kissing. Then everyone piles into the dining hall. Only the bride and groom have reserved seats, everybody else has to fight for theirs. I was lucky, I sat near Cousin Vasily (and his very pretty and super-nice wife) and Cousin Ivan (Ivas' dad). So the pressure was off and we drank. And drank some more. Here is the scene in the hall:
Here's Cousin Ivan (on the right) and his boss, Ivan:
And in the distance, Cousin Andri (on the left), Cousin Volodya and Volodya's wife Oksana in the middle:
And that was just the beginning. Things devolved from there in fine fashion. The band started playing:
People dressed like gypsies and danced crazy:
Inside, people were singing:
That's Cousin Roman and his son, Cousin Volodya. They're two guys who love to sing. They don't even need to be drunk, but they kind of were. Everybody was!There were also weird Red Army vs. the Nazis that everybody seemed to enjoy. Cousin Arsen officiates:
Eventually, the drunks kind of took over. This guy, Sergey, in the middle was probably the worst of all. He was one of the groomsmen, but he had trouble handling his liquor:
Here's Cousin Andri and Roman-in-law checking to see if I was OK. I was!
Honestly, I drank a lot, but everything was fine - not that I'll drink that much every day. After many hours of celebrating, the parents got to dance with their kids:
There was this ceremony to take off Oksana's veil:
Children fell asleep:
Fathers of the bride smiled:
Here's just a sample of the dancing. This was sometime around three in the morning:
Things chugged along till 6:00, when we piled into the bus to Peremyliv. That Sergey guy really wanted me to drink with him, but I'd had enough. He ekpt bugging me till he passed out. Incidentally, it was damn near freezing - something like 36 degrees or something. I got to bed just as it was getting light. My rest didn't last long, Cousin Arsen got me up shortly after 10 to tell me that he was playing another wedding down the road in Khorostkiv and that I should go over to Ivan's house where they were still celebrating. OK yes, I was hungover, but not badly. I went over to Ivan's house with Arsen's wife and guess what they were doing? Singing and drinking, so I did the latter while listening to the former. Yeah, more drinking. That' exactly what I needed. Poor Cousin Arsen, he'd just gotten done playing for almost an entire day and now he had to do it again. That evening, I took it easy and went over to Cousin Roman's house, where we - you guessed it - drank vodka and talked of various things.
And that was the wedding.