Like most wedding traditions around the world, Armenian wedding traditions represent a cornucopia of bliss and sweetness. Armenian marriage traditions, in particular, are celebrated on a large scale that rival even the most well-known marriage customs. Weddings in Armenia are colorful and highly symbolic, signifying how valued the marriage bond is and fortifying a sense of joy and unity. Here’s a brief overview of a traditional Armenian wedding, from the pre-wedding Koshk-Kap (engagement party) to the Yarkhushta (farewell dance):
Armenian Pre-Wedding Traditions
Armenian people value the permission and blessing of elders before officiating their nuptials. The Koshk-Arnel or Koshk-Kap are carried out to officially put forth a proposal and receive an answer from the opposite side. Typically, the groom’s family visits the bride’s family with lots of gifts and flowers.
The eldest member of the would-be groom’s family asks for the would-be bride’s hand. When the eldest person from the bride’s side declares an affirmation, it’s time to officially tie the knot! Tea is served to both sides as an initial milestone of a new familial bond. This tradition is followed by a chain of many others and cements the foundation of a new journey.
The Bride’s Dowry
The bride’s family gifts an exquisite dowry to the groom for the couple’s future use, including furniture, clothes, perfumes, jewelry, and more. The highlights of this particular tradition are a baby’s wrap and a silk rug for the couple. This signifies the best wishes and offspring for the couple’s future life.
A Night Before the Wedding
Just like the bride’s family brings dowry for the groom, the groom’s family also brings presents for the bride’s use. The groom’s side makes an entrance with a lot of singing and dancing. They bring along the bride’s wedding dress, her jewelry, veil, perfume, flowers, and some other wedding day necessities. All these are brought in extravagant packaging and is definitely a sight to see!
Money During the Wedding
Armenians love a lavish wedding. For starters, they shower Armenian drams on the couple while they dance. The bride’s family also blocks the door of their house before the bride can leave for her new home.
The ‘bouncers’ blocking the doorway are usually male relatives from her side. They’ll quote a price for letting the bride go, which the groom’s side has to pay. If the latter resists, the former will increase the bid until they settle on one amount.
In return for this, the groom’s people hide the bride’s wedding shoes. And unless her side pays an equally handsome amount of money, the bride doesn’t get shoes back!
Break a Plate
For Armenians, breaking a plate on the eve of the blessed union of two lives is essential to keep bad omens away. They deliberately break a plate during the wedding function to ward off evil eyes. This ensures that the bond will stay protected and strong.
The One Pillow
A person’s pillow knows all that a person thinks and contemplates before bedtime. The Armenian saying: ‘May you grow old on one pillow’ is, therefore, a thoughtful and generous wish for new couples. It’ll be a part of wedding vows, speeches, or perhaps the invitation card. It essentially means that the couple is wished to unite with the body, soul, and mind till death do them part.
Folks dance to the tunes of Zurna (a woodwind instrument) and Kopal (large, double-headed drum). An Armenian traditional wedding dance such as Shabash and Yarkhushta bids farewell and good luck to the newlyweds.