Russian Engagement Traditions

Russian Engagement Flowers


Traditionally, Russian engagement customs involve only a few of the western customs. Depending on the status of the couple, engagement might include a formal ball and feast. Or it might involve only a small handful of family members. Either way, betrothal remains a sacred bond.


Russian Engagement Customs

When the daughter of a Russian nobleman accepts her beloved's proposal of marriage, her father hosted an elaborate party. This party included feasting and dancing. After her father announced their engagements, each guest came forward to wish them well.

At this time, the woman's fiancé offered her a ring set with a precious stone. A religious betrothal ceremony commonly followed, during which the couple received the blessing of the family priest.

This religious ceremony took place for all betrothed couples, no matter their station in life. However, couples of lesser means followed slightly different engagement customs.

Those living in the city might take the opportunity to throw a small family party. This presented an opportunity for the two families to meet. Together, the family members attended the blessing of the couple by the priest.

In a village setting, the engagement took place in the home of the bride with both sets of parents in attendance. After their parents presented the couple with an icon, the couple partook of salt and bread. After that, their fathers took turns bowing to each other. Each bowed seven times, then shook hands and agreed to uphold the agreement made on that day.

Immediately following the handshake, the bride walked out onto her front porch and bowed seven times in all directions. Neighbors and friends took this as a sign to gather for her announcement of her engagement. The religious betrothal ceremony followed.


Russian Engagement Rings

I confess to being uncertain whether Russian men customarily proposed with a ring. Some sources say they always have, that the ring was given during the betrothal ceremony in front of the priest. The woman accepted the ring as a token of her promise to marry the man.

However, other sources claim that exposure to western culture influenced the adoption of the engagement ring. Some report that in lieu of a ring, the man traditionally presented his sweetheart with a bouquet of flowers during the proposal. Perhaps, in different regions, all of these prove true.

Given the differences in culture between Russia and the west, I suspect that when a Russian man proposes with a ring, he offers a demure one, possibly with a colored stone rather than a diamond.


Proposal Planning

Those planning to propose to a Russian woman need not concern themselves with lofty public displays of affection. A Russian woman prefers an intimate, private setting. She longs for a sincere display of affection, with direct eye contact and sincerity in words and actions.

If you present her with a ring, choose a ring that represents her uniqueness and your love for her in some special way. Also, regardless of whether you bring a ring or not, I suggest you begin your Russian engagement with a beautiful bouquet of flowers.

~by Angela Magnotti Andrews