How to update Russian Wedding Traditions for the Modern Russian Bride – Tradition One “Vykup” (The Ransom)

Hi Guys, I thought I would talk to you today about something I know from my childhood and something close to my heart – Russian Wedding Traditions.

There is always something so special about weddings and I believe it’s such a privilege to be involved in the happiest day of someone’s life. In Russia we believe it’s very good luck when you see a Bride. My mum used to tell me that all the time.

A Wedding is a rite, a Sacrament. Any Sacrament is always about traditions and folklore. However, I keep seeing stories on the internet that modern Russian Brides want to escape from them. Just saying “Traditional Russian Wedding”, makes many Russian Brides recoil. Their first thought is usually silly stereotypes of Russian traditions.

What if we could revive some of our good old wedding rituals and adapt them for modern times?

I will take a risk here and start with the number one tradition in my “Silly Russian Tradition Chart” – “Vykup” (The Ransom).

The tradition to “ransom” a bride comes from ancient times. No wonder it sounds silly now, it’s a bit outdated and to some people a little offensive. As the name suggests, this tradition entails the groom “purchasing” the bride from her family and friends with money. The groom would normally be made to jump on the stairs of his bride’s family home, answer a series of questions about his bride and every time he gets a question wrong he must take a shot of vodka or pay a physical or financial penalty dreamed up by her bridesmaids.

All this drinking and mayhem puts many modern brides off, after all, who wants to marry a drunken groom? In addition, the penalties can be quite extreme and result in a rather sweaty groom and filthy wedding suit. This is not romantic and certainly not chique.

However, I believe this tradition could be so much more romantic and chic in a London setting. And by making it fun, there will be no one who could be offended in any way.

Let’s dream about it…

Imagine your wedding is at an amazing English castle or country estate – Hedsor House for example.

Hedsor House Hedsor House

Photographer: Ann Kathrin Koch 

Hedsor House is a private country house and wedding venue in Buckinghamshire set in its own magnificent 100-acre historic park.

So, you are ready and waiting for your groom with your family and friends in the fabulous Bridal Suite. This is the same room that was used by Augusta, the Princess of Wales, in 1166 as it was former Royal Residence.

Hedsor House

Bridal Suite Hedsor House Bridal Suite Hedsor House

Photographer: Ann Kathrin Koch 

All your guests are outside and your groom arrives who is given only one serious challenge by your bridesmaids, which he has had time to prepare ahead of the big day.

Your bridesmaids need to choose a task according his talents and your preference but they have to keep it in a secret from you. I personally think the groom should perform in some way: perhaps sing a song, dance, play his own DJ set or prepare another surprise. He could ask his friends to help or even get a professional artist to assist him. Your friends, or your wedding planner, would arrange any special equipment he needs for the surprise.

Your groom performs his surprise and You, watching from the window above, now decides if your Fiancé has completed the challenge to your satisfaction and then you send a message via your bridesmaids to let him enter the venue. Your guests then move to the Great Hall for the ceremony.

You see, “Vycup” isn’t meant to offend in any way, it’s meant to be fun and allows the bride to feel like a princess and her groom is her hero.

Stylish Events were honoured to have arranged a fantastic wedding at Hedsor House. Our client had a Hindu wedding ceremony full of spiritual symbolism underneath a magical Mandap.

photo 2photo 3 (1) photo 3 (2)  photo 4 photo 5 (1) photo 5

Photographer: Ann Kathrin Koch 

The house has been used as a film location for both television dramas and feature films including The Golden Compass and Spooks.

Nicole Kidman Nicole Kidman

Images courtesy of  Hedsor House website 

It was also the location of Quartet, a 2012 comedy drama film directed by Dustin Hoffman and starring Dame Maggie Smith and Billy Connolly.

Another dream venue, which we love, is the Connaught hotel located in the centre of London’s Mayfair.

the Connaught hotel


Photographer: Adrian Neal, The Studio Without Walls

Last December we organised a chic and elegant wedding for our lovely clients Anna and Luke at the Connaught. We believe it  has the chicest cocktail bar in the whole of London.

winter Wedding Stylish Events lanterns wedding Stylish elegant Wedding Stylish Events

Photographer: Adrian Neal, The Studio Without Walls

Another ideal wedding venue for a ransom scenario and a spectacular wedding location is Aynhoe Park – a listed seventeenth century country house in Oxfordshire, about an hour outside London.

Aynhoe Park Aynhoe Park

Photographer: Simon Carr

Aynhoe Park is not a hotel, it’s a private house owned by James Perkins, who has completely renovated the house and decorated it opulently.

We were lucky enough to work there last year, with one of our favourite couples, Clare and Patrick. Every detail of this luxury wedding was thought about and we were so blessed to have clients who had such exquisite taste.

photo 3 (5)


photo 5 (3)

photo 1 (7) photo 2 (4) photo 2 (6) photo 3 (6)

photo 4 (5) photo 4 (3) photo 5 (4)

Photographer: Simon Carr

Mick Jagger’s daughter, Jade Jagger, married Adrian Fillary here in July 2012 and had a rock ‘n’ roll wedding full of pop stars and models.

Mick Jagger’s daughter, Jade Jagger, married Adrian Fillary

Images courtesy of Hello Magazine 

Lastly, I would like to show you a magnificent wedding venue, a true masterpiece of 18th Century Baroque architecture – Blenheim Palace.

Blenheim Palace is a monumental country house situated in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, and is the residence of the Duke of Marlborough.

800px-Blenheim_Palace_panorama _MG_2868.e12fdc1c5634b34770df9631d3b5fdd7 Long-Libr-Dinner-Banqueting.c685d3c39c2cfcd2cf0e7006cbb4274b saloon-weddings2.e12fdc1c5634b34770df9631d3b5fdd7

Images courtesy of Blenheim Palace website 

Well, I’m afraid that’s it for today. I hope I’m starting to convince you that old Russian traditions do have a place in modern Russian Weddings?

I hope you enjoyed today’s post, please come back next time to read about tradition number two in my “Silly Russian Tradition Chart” The Seven Bridges – another unique and romantic Russian Wedding tradition.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s