Even in the 21st century, Ukrainians still keep their old national traditions. There are a lot of beliefs and customs connected with the wedding day. A contemporary Ukrainian marriage ceremony is a mix of authentic and Western traditions. Usually, there is a formal ceremony with a white dress and a suit that takes place at the registry office and then a kind of party for all guests. It should be mentioned that wedding customs vary across the country and depend on a particular region. There is also the difference between a city wedding and a village wedding. In villages and small towns, people observe traditions more strictly than city dwellers. A rural wedding has a lot of rituals and usually lasts for two days. So, what are those rituals and Ukrainian marriage traditions that you need to know? It’s time to find out.



If a guy decides to marry a girl, he should propose to her at her parent’s house. Many modern couples skip this ritual and as a result, a man just presents his bride-to-be a ring and asks if she’ll marry him. If a man follows national traditions, he goes to the bride’s house together with two older men (matchmakers) who tell girl’s parents that he is the best guy ever and then he asks her whether she’ll agree to marry him. If her answer is yes, she gives them “rushnyky” – Ukrainian embroidered towels. While in the past it was the only way to propose to a girl, today, men do it just to keep a tradition alive. It means that they know the girl will say yes. Centuries ago, if a woman didn’t want to marry a particular guy, she gave him a pumpkin as a symbol of rejection. Another important element of the engagement ceremony is “korovay” – a big decorated loaf of bread that the woman should cut into small pieces and distribute among the matchmakers and guests.

The ransom

On the wedding day, before the official ceremony, a groom, his best man, parents, and friends come to the bride’s house to get the bride. Bridesmaids don’t let him in before he pays the ransom. They set the price and put him to the test. They ask questions about his beloved and every wrong answer increases the sum. When he manages to prove to the bridesmaids that he is a good match, he is allowed to come in and take his bride.


Shortly after paying the “ransom” the couple is asking a blessing from their parents and grandparents. Parents, holding the icons in their hands, exchange bows and give their blessing to their children.

Official ceremony

As a rule, the wedding ceremony consists of two parts: official and religious. The official ceremony is usually held on Saturday and the church ceremony – on Sunday. Even at a registry office, some traditional rituals are observed. The most important one is stepping on the embroidered towel. A bride and a groom should step on it simultaneously. If one of them steps first, that one will be a leader in their couple. As the newly married couple is leaving the registry office, the guests rain grains and rose petals upon them wishing them wealth and love.


After the official part, a newly married couple and guests go to the restaurant where they celebrate the union of two hearts. The tables are full of different dishes and beverages. Every honorable guest (close relative or friend) should propose a toast to the couple. After delivering a toast, one should exclaim “Hirko!” (literally translated as bitter) which is a sign that a bride and a groom should kiss each other. Usually, there is a host, a person who entertains the audience, gives the floor to the guests who want to propose a toast, and say nice words to the couple during the evening. Apart from drinking and eating, guests participate in different funny activities. There is a tradition of stealing a bride and demanding a ransom for her return. This way, a host helps the couple gather money for their future family. In order to please his mother-in-law, a groom should clean her feet and present a new pair of boots. At the end of the party, there is a ritual of covering the bride’s heads with a headscarf as a symbol of that she is a wife now.

Photo session

Although photo session can be hardly called one of the Ukrainian wedding traditions, it’s become an integral ritual of almost every wedding. Couples hire a photographer that takes them to different beautiful locations in the city, such as parks, riversides, famous monuments, and take nice pictures of them.

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