SERBIAN WEDDING TRADITIONS & CUSTOMS
When it comes to Serbian weddings and customs there are so many... each region, and village has they're own unique take on the customs required. Whilst many of them are well beyond outdated and not applicable in todays society, there are some that we simply refuse to let go of...and why should we? At Iklektik ink, we are continually working on redeveloping these traditional products and customs, adding modern flare and touches so that our couples can choose to incorporate them into their big day, seamlessly and still have all the fun that the customs bring!
We've listed bellow the most popular Serbian traditions and their meanings... If there is something specific that you'd like to see added to our ever-growing product line, we'd love to hear from you! Feel free to contact us via email with your suggestions firstname.lastname@example.org.
First thing that you will notice at Serbian-Orthodox weddings is upon arrival to the brides house you will be welcomed by the floral decorated arch at the homes front gate and at the very top will hang an apple from the string. This is a very special Serbian wedding tradition that is still practiced in rural regions. The groom has to shoot down the apple to prove his worthiness of marrying said bride! Only when he takes down the apple from the tree/arch, is he and his bridal party allowed to enter the gates of the bride’s home.
It is tradition for the wedding party to wear sashes throughout the day. Traditionally made of Serbian linen they are worn diagonally across the torso and beautifully decorated with a Serbian Coat of Arms. It is customary that the bride adorns the bridal party with the sashes upon their arrival to her home. There are may versions as to who wears the sash, but more often than not it is the Kum, Dever, Stari Svat, 2x Barjaktari, and sometimes the Domacin and the Brides brother.
The Buklia is a round, decorated, wooden bottle, filled with homemade rakija. It has a strap and can be carried around like a purse. In modern day, cousins and uncles welcome the guests with the buklia, while in the past it was used as a formal invitation to weddings. It used to be that a family member would visit the invitees home with the buklia in order to give a personal invitation.
The giving of Rosemary and Miniature boutonnières
Small decorated sprigs of rosemary is the traditional boutonnières given to guests at Serbian weddings. Young girls dressed in their 'Nosnja' carry adorned baskets filled with sometimes hundreds of these gorgeously handmade 'cvetici' pinning them on the lapel of each guest attending the wedding. Each guest offers money in thanks, anything from $10 - $100 notes are given (depending on the individuals generosity) and the money collected is then given the the bride and groom to help start their married life.
Buying of the Bride
Back in the day, until 1846 the bride really was purchased with large amounts of money or Gold. Luckily, today this custom is used for fun and to calm jitters and adds to the atmosphere of the big day. This "game" as we like to refer to it, always takes place at the bride’s house before church. It is the the groom’s brother (Dever) or cousin that negotiates with the bride’s siblings, usually her brother or closest male relatives at the front door. All in good fun, the two sides battle over how little or how much they should pay for the bride. Once the two sides reach an agreement, the bride comes out and the brother (Dever) or cousin of the groom stays by her side to keep her “safe” until the ceremony.
Ring Exchange in front of the altar
Ceremony begins with blessings of the rings. The priest or the best man (Kum) exchanges the rings between the couples fingers three times which signifies that the weakness of one will be compensated by the other. Most rituals in Orthodox church are performed 3 times to represent the Holy Trinity.
After the rings are exchanged, the priest gives the couple lit candles to hold in their left hands. The burning flames symbolise the couple’s spiritual willingness to receive God’s blessings.
Joining of the hands
The right hand of the bride and groom are joined when the priest reads the prayer that beseeches God to "join these servants, unite them in one mind and one flesh. "The hands are kept joined throughout the service to symbolise the "oneness"
While the couple is facing the altar the priest places the crowns on their heads. A crown alone is a symbol of glory and honour. In church, on the wedding day, the crowning represents the royalty of marriage.
The priest lets the groom and the bride take three sips of wine out of a common cup. The cup represents life and symbolises the couple’s mutual sharing of joy and sorrow.
Walk around the table
These are the couple’s first steps as husband and wife following the church (priest leading them)
Kum & Kuma
Best man and maid of honour remain very important people in the couple’s lives. Choosing a 'Kum', and being asked to be "Kum' is considered to be the highest of honours. Often they then become the Godparents of the couple’s children.Depending on the region your family stems from, the title of 'Kuma' automatically is given to the Kum's wife, however there are brides who may choose to select their own Kuma instead.
Coin toss / Candy toss
After the ceremony, guests exit church and wait for the couple to come out. When the couple crosses the church’s doorstep, the best man (Kum) tosses coins and candy in the air. This gets kids to scamper around looking to pick up as many coins and sweets as they can hold. This ritual is believed to promise financial prosperity and a sweet life.
Lifting up a young child
In front of church the bride will seek out the youngest child and lift him/her up three times which symbolises good luck with childbearing.
This list can be way longer depending on the origins of the families but for now these are the most common ones practiced at Serbian weddings here in Australia. The bottom line is despite the customs, rituals and traditions, two souls destined to be together wed. Everybody there is their witness and they are present to celebrate their love.
For a full list of items available to purchase for your Serbian wedding, please contact us directly with your requirements via email email@example.com and we would be more than happy to accomodate your needs.