Armenian wedding is a sight to behold – it’s beautiful, romantic, and cheerful. Armenians are very fond of their traditions and customs, including the wedding traditions, which there are plenty. We offer you just a few of the most meaningful, old, and popular wedding rituals. Today, our world is very globalized and a lot of couples prefer a boring Western-style wedding instead of a remarkable traditional marriage ceremony. But these traditions are still followed by some local couples.
Khosk-Arnel or asking for girl’s hand in marriage
Originally in Armenia, men were supposed to ask their bride-to-be’s parents for her hand in marriage. Without their permission, no couple was allowed to be wed. In modern days, most of the brides and grooms don’t follow this tradition and simply get engaged after a proposal. But some people still perform the so-called Khosk-Arnel or asking for permission. The groom’s closest family comes to the bride’s house for tea/coffee or meal and the groom asks for his future bride’s hand. They talk, make arrangements, and celebrate if both sides agree on the wedding.
Ransom for the bride
This wedding tradition is not unique, it occurs in many other countries, particularly in Slavic countries. It is rather popular in Armenia as well.
Everything happens at the bride’s house. When the groom’s procession reaches her house, they are met by a flock of bride’s relatives. A male relative of the bride (her brother, cousin, etc) blocks the door to her house and asks for a ransom, which the groom has to pay to get his wife-to-be. Sometimes, there are several men at the door and he needs to pay each of them. Traditionally, a negotiation is held where the bride’s relative praises her beauty and traits of character to get more money for her. The ransom can be paid by the groom, his Best Man, his father, or any family member from his side. This tradition is not about profit but rather about fun, so the ransom is not a fortune.
Bride’s shoes: list of names on the sole
The shoes of Armenian bride play an important role at the wedding. First of all, a male relative helps the bride to wear her shoes before the ceremony. When she’s dressed and almost ready to go, her brother, cousin, or close family friend comes in and puts her footwear on her feet.
Also, at some weddings, a similar ritual to the ransom for the bride is performed, but with her shoe. Someone steals one shoe and asks to be paid by the groom for it.
And the last tradition connected with the wedding footwear is writing a list of names on the sole for good luck. Every single woman who helps the bride to prepare for her marriage ceremony writes her name on the sole of the bridal shoes. Afterward, when these women get married, the bride (or rather wife already) crosses off their names on the sole.
Red and green ribbon ceremony
This ritual is very old and traditional for Armenia. During the wedding ceremony, the groom receives two ribbons – red one symbolizes sacrifice and green one life. They both are put on his shoulders and torso, criss-crossing at his chest. The rest of the wedding ceremony he wears these ribbons. By the way, they are pretty, ornate, adorned with gold embroidery and beading.