Without a doubt, we Americans have the stupidest traditions when it comes to the process of getting married. Let us examine American wedding traditions and see how they stack up to those of Russia. Hopefully by making Western readers aware of these facts, it will spark a movement to ditch our corporate-contrived “traditions” and adopt far more economical, practical, and reasonable customs of Russia in this particular sphere.
Getting Married in America
-“Tradition” dictates that the man should propose in public, typically making the biggest scene possible. You’re having a good time at a restaurant or sporting event, and suddenly you find yourself bidden to give your attention to some jackass who gets down on one knee and proclaims, “Madison, ever since I got you pregnant last month I knew you were the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. Will you marry me?” We’ve all seen videos of poor saps who get rejected, sometimes in the middle of a basketball court in front of thousands of people. Instinctively we feel embarrassed for both parties, but in reality we should hold the man in utter contempt. He’s using all of us as an audience to pressure his girlfriend into saying yes, and if she refuses we have to feel awkward as a result. Could you imagine a married couple engaging an entire restaurant to witness one of their arguments? No, that’s “making a scene” and it’s bad because it makes everyone uncomfortable. But we’re all supposed to turn our attention away from our own very important business to watch total strangers take their relationship to another level, which statistically will lead to divorce within a few years. Thanks, asshole.
Occasionally I’ve heard American women brag about how “traditional” their fiances are, apparently because they asked their father for their “hand in marriage” prior to proposing directly. This isn’t more traditional. This is fucking stupid. Aside from the idiocy of asking an adult woman’s father in a modern, free society for his permission to marry her, you’re not some kind of nobleman and neither is he. You work at Best Buy, he manages a fucking Denny’s. Chances are he’s not angling for the chance to marry off his daughter to some man who has landed titles or who can at least offer a large dowry. Ask your girlfriend directly, and not in public.
-Diamond engagement rings. Ah yes, we all know the tradition that a man should spend two months salary on a diamond engagement ring. It is a deep-rooted custom which stretches far back into the depths of human history all the way to…1939-1947, the period in which the De Beers diamond cartel hit America with an advertising blitzkrieg aimed at making people think that diamond engagement rings are an essential part of getting married. Hollywood was happy to do its part as well. So basically we think that no proposal can be acceptable without a “traditional” diamond engagement ring solely because…a company which sells diamonds basically told us so. This is a societal equivalent to the “wallet inspector.” (Here’s an amusing video if you’d like to learn more. If you’re looking for more in-depth history on De Beers and their bullshit, look here.)
-The average American wedding costs something between $25,000-27,000, forcing some families to go into debt for their little girl’s big day. All that money goes to planners, the dress you wear once, a tuxedo, the rings, bouquets, catering, limousines, DJ’s, etc. I was shocked to find that even in my home state, which is not known for having very high costs of living, a significant portion of weddings are over $10,000, with a slight majority being just under that.
-Brides wear a white dress, and ignorant people crack jokes about the color because they think it has something to do with virginal “purity.” Do you want to know where the white dress tradition comes from? Right here:
That’s right. Queen Victoria started the trend of wearing white wedding dresses, and you know it couldn’t have anything to do with “purity” because Vicky very famously loved the cock. Loved it.
-You are expected to get married in a religious institution or failing that, by a member of some clergy. I remember attending weddings where I knew damned well that the bride and groom were not religious, and as far as I know never went to church, yet there officiating their wedding was a pastor or priest.
-The father walks the bride down the aisle, signifying that he is giving his
property daughter away to the husband, who will be granted official rights to bone her shortly thereafter. Father-husband parallels make me sick.
-The flower girl and ring bearer- why? I was a ring-bearer one time when I was about 7. Fuckin’ nailed it, of course. But it seems sometimes that these poor children are chosen in hopes that they will do something amusing and it will be caught on video. Admit it. If you choose a 5-year-old nephew to be a ring-bearer, you’re secretly hoping he’ll blurt out some curse word he saw on TV the other night or piss himself at the altar. You’re setting these kids up for failure. You don’t need a flower girl or a ring bearer. The best man can carry the damned rings, and you’ve got plenty of flowers all over the place. If you must preserve these two make-work, unproductive job titles, give them to family members who are no younger than 10. By that age they have a firm understanding of what shame is, and the crucial role that feeling plays in making us functional, well-adjusted people.
-People at the weddings publicly making jokes about what the couple will be doing later that night. For some unknown reason it is perfectly acceptable for friends and family of the bride and groom to make “jokes” about how the newly-wedded couple will most likely be fucking later that night. No shit? In most cases they’ve already been doing that for months at this point. That’s why the bride’s two months pregnant. I realize this practice seems to run in certain demographic groups in the US, but I’m sad to say my family seems to be totally afflicted by this matrimonial social-filter breakdown. Can you imagine the same people making these cracks a couple years down the road, perhaps at a Thanksgiving gathering?
Married man: “Well thank you so much for a wonderful evening, but Madison and I have to get home.”
Father(winking furiously): “What’s the rush? Looking to spend some time alone with my daugher?”
Mother: “Oooh I bet these two are gonna be up aaaaaaaaaaaaall night!”
Married man(muttering to himself): “Tonight’s the night. I do her, the kids, and myself. Sweet release of death. I await you with open arms.”
Getting Married in Russia
-First off the bat there is one caveat I should mention, and that is the ridiculously bureaucratic process of getting the marriage registered. You and the bride must fill out a form with laser-like precision, and a desk-jockey will then examine the forms and your personal documents with the scrutiny of a watchmaker. They will look at individual letters in your names and occasionally lengthen lines or correct minute parts of those letters to ensure that they are perfect. That process was the toughest crisis my marriage has ever faced to date. Another issue is the massive pain in the ass it is for the bride to change her name on all her documents, but I’m told it is similarly annoying in the US and luckily it’s not a problem for her to keep her own surname if she so wishes. I recommend it. This way if you are ever murdered, your wife will be able to secretly track your killers until it’s time to wreak bloody vengeance upon them. They won’t see it coming.
Anyway, yes, the paperwork aspect of getting married in Russia is annoying, but that’s not something the US needs to adopt.
-I have never seen a Russian man publicly propose to a woman anywhere. In fact I asked students over the years how to propose marriage and I was given two common examples. One is that a couple lives together for a long time and then one day the man or the woman will suggest getting married. Another common way is for the prospective bride to make the proposal, with the traditional phrase “I’m pregnant.” I just casually popped the question on a Sunday morning, in my own place.
-No engagement rings. It’s pathetic how badly Russia beats America in this category because with Russian society being as it is, you would think that diamond engagement rings would be all the rage, especially given the fact that American TV and Hollywood movies have been very popular here ever since the 90’s. I’ve heard of some people buying diamond rings but De Beers thus far hasn’t been able to work its dark magic here for some reason.
-Costs. When I tally up everything associated with my wedding, that is to say every piece of notarized paperwork, wedding rings, wife’s dress(she bought it herself), restaurant, fees, etc. The total comes out to around $1100. I just wore my best suit while my wife’s dress can be worn on other special occasions. We could have paid extra to have the band play the traditional “Wedding march” as we walked out of the hall after the short ceremony, but guess what- we didn’t! If I’m going to walk out with my bride to a march, this is what I’d choose. Americans can call us cheap all they want. We used the money we saved to travel to three different countries.
-Russians get officially married in a state office, not in churches or religious institutions. You can get married by a priest or imam, but that marriage isn’t recognized by the state unless you go through the state wedding ceremony. You know what’s nice about getting married by a state official? They make it short and sweet instead of rambling on with that “Dearly beloved” bullshit. Then you get to sit down and sign this contract and the whole affair looks like you are two heads of state securing a free trade deal or a non-aggression pact.
-No sick father/husband parallels.
-No stupid kids dicking up the ceremony.
Russian wedding traditions win, hands down. Perhaps if we started doing things this way in America, minus the nerve-wracking bureaucracy associated with the pre-marriage paperwork, we’d have a lot more successful marriages.
Also, I’m sorry but I can’t stand the name Madison for girls. It literally means “son of Matthew.” Is your name Matthew? Is your daughter your son? If you answered no to either of those questions, do not name your daughter Madison.