The groom was an American friend of mine from college who had lived in the Russian language house with me one year. He started dating his Russian bride back in high school when she was an exchange student from St.Petersburg.
So today I dragged my mom who is visiting to witness the “liberation of the bride,” as they called it. Our arrival was not without drama, since I had no idea how to get there and we got a bit lost. The street we needed evidently did not exist, according to everyone on the street as well as the street sign itself, but it was on my map. Eventually we had to go into a store to ask for help, and the store manager ended up escorting us to the right building. We reached our destination and then needed to go back down to greet the groom, while the bride was hidden. The first group of people to go down in the elevator got stuck. At this point, my mom and I went back into the apartment and sat down with a few of the guests. They had heard us speaking English to each other.
“You speak English or Russian?” a guy asked in English.
“English,” I said in Russian. “And Russian.”
Then I sat down. And I began to explain in Russian how I had studied with Mike. Then the others began to argue amongst themselves about whether I was Russian or American. It was quite amusing. All this time, the group remained stuck in the elevator, and we decided to take the stairs. At the bottom, we greeted the groom and the other guests.
Here I am with the groom, Mike, and our friend Natasha who also lived in the Russian house with us as our tutor!
The groom had to complete a serious of assignments which brought him closer to the location of the bride. He had to prove himself worthy by answering questions about his intentions, describing her character as well as his own. He also had to find her face among several baby photos, which he did with ease. Then he was asked to name several nicknames for her in Russian, all diminutives of the name Olga. I thought that was a pretty difficult task! But he got it in the end. Finally we entered the apartment and the bride’s father pretended to be fierce and defend his daughter, while the groom uttered the magic words that would free her.
And the bride appeared.
I thought it was all a bit cruel, but my mom found it to be a delightful tradition for some reason and is scheming about how to set up a similar scenario at my wedding. We shall see.
After some refreshments, we went on the traditional wedding stroll, taking photos at various famous monuments. At one popular spot, we were joined by a pair of gypsy children. They were there for money, but stopped to take in the scene.
At the final photo shoot, the bride and groom released a pair of doves. Unfortunately my finger was on the trigger when they said “three,” but there was a pause. So I missed the doves, but I captured the reaction.
P.S. Happy Anniversary to my parents, who were married on this date 34 years ago!