Although many modern day Armenians break away from our traditions on their wedding day, there are still many wedding traditions and customs which may still be included in the ceremony. So, what an entirely traditional Armenian wedding entail?
When it comes to the engagement, the groom asks the wife's family for her hand in marriage, which is typically done when both families are present and have arranged to meet. The Armenian term for this formal occasion is "Khosk-Kap." The event takes place at the bride's home, where they are seated to be served tea. Here, the oldest member of the groom's family will ask for the bride's hand in marriage. Only once the bride's family accepts the proposal, can the guests drink their tea. Gifts include cognac, chocolates, and flowers for the bride. There is always a priest at the engagement ceremony; he is there to bless the rings and the marriage.
The actual wedding celebration starts before the couple are to wed. Once again there are beautiful gifts for the bride, including her veil and shoes which are given to her. The home of the bride's family is decorated for the night and guests are served an array of eats. Many of her family photos are on display on the tables throughout the house for the guests to see.
On the day of the wedding, the groomsmen deliver baskets to the bride's home, which include her garter and wedding shoes, a purse, jewelry, chocolates and cognac. After that, the bride will go to the bridal room where she drapes herself in a traditional red, silk gown. She may not place the shoes on her feet, as it is done by a male in her family, someone very close to her. Before placing the veil on her head, she circles it around the heads of all the single women present, as a symbol of good luck. The veil is laid on her head by a married woman, in the hope that she will remain married for years to come. It is also a tradition that she wears a blue evil-eye charm on her wedding day, which is called "Atchka Ooloonk." Her headpiece, over which the veil is worn resembles the wings of a bird and is trimmed with feathers.
It is customary for the godparents to be at the ceremony to serve as witnesses, and the godfather is the one who accompanies the bride to the altar. He is also expected to purchase the most expensive gift of all. The godparents then take responsibility for the couple. The crowning ritual is part of the wedding ceremony, where crowns are placed on the heads of the couple representing their 'kingdom', as they stand face to face and the best man raises a cross over their heads. After this is "the blessing of the common cup," where the cup holds a portion of wine in remembrance of the wedding at Canaan, where Christ turned the water into wine. The ceremony ends with the priest blessing the couple and their marriage.
As the bride and groom leave the ceremony, the guests form an arch, holding bouquets of flowers up in the air. To symbolize love and happiness for the couple, doves are released into the air, and the guests throw coins around the newly wed pair. The reception follows where traditional Armenian food and drinks are served.