|Alena and Riza with emcee talking about sweetness of wedding cake representing sweetness of life and marriage|
As always, click on any image for larger view.
Riza's and Alena's wedding reception was a blast! They had hired a wedding planner so I do not know who gets full credit for everything, but it was all very well done and lots of fun.
After the 2 hour bus tour of oldest areas of St. Petersburg we guests were delivered to another hotel for the wedding reception. Oh, and while on the tour we learned from the guide that St. Petersburg is built on 42 islands! Did not know that. And it did appear to be a true statement as we crossed bridge after bridge as we wound around town in the bus.
|The master of ceremony & translator|
All the guests dropped off their winter coats at the cloak room and gathered near the bar in a far corner of the hotel lobby floor. By the way, I like how coat checks or cloak rooms are handled in St. Petersburg. Unlike in the USA, these are free! During the 6 days we were in St. Petersburg we only paid to check a coat at one location. And that fee was very reasonably priced.
|Youngest reception guest dancing by piano|
|Bill, Peter & Vicky Forbes, Barbara Gladney|
The tables were pre-set with cold appetizers, so many that it reminded me of the Turkish custom of mezes. More champagne and wines were served and soon the emcee began the celebration.
|Parents with bread & salt|
First there was the Russian tradition of bread and salt. Both sets of parents were brought forward to bless the newlyweds.
The in-laws held a plate containing a large round loaf of bread and a tiny glass of salt.
|Receiving instructions for the bread and salt tradition|
Riza and Alena were called forward and were instructed to use ONE HAND ONLY to break off the largest piece of bread possible.
|Each doing best to get the most|
|Who got most? Almost even, I think.|
Then the bread was sprinkled liberally with the salt and each fed the other one bite. This is symbolic that in their marriage they will never be without the necessities of life and that they will always take care of each other. The Bread and Salt Custom
I don't remember everything exactly as it happened that night. Guess I should have written this blog posting earlier. But as I remember, there was lots of music and the emcee talked a lot with a microphone and the young lady translated for us. The emcee kept everything lively and moving along nicely. He was funny and entertaining.
The first organized act was a magician. He was quite good. I did not get any photos of him because how do you photograph a magic trick. Then there was more music and dancing.
A break for everyone to be served the cold foods on each table and more drinks. We sampled a bite or 2 of each dish and all were delicious --even the jellied tongue, a dish neither of us had tried before. Then it was time for more organized entertainment.
This act was a gymnast and she was excellent. She could contort her body is unimaginable positions while balanced on a single arm up on a stand. She was really amazing.
|Band singers and Russian guests dancing|
|Lead singer of band|
|Riza's mom dancing Turkish style|
And the best to me were the Turkish music and dancing. This is divided into 2 types. One type of Turkish music is danced by both men and women. It is fun. And that type was played over and over again throughout the evening.
|Turkish couples dancing western style.|
All the folks back home who have such preconceived
ideas about Muslims should notice that Turkish women
mostly all dress like anyone else back home.
|Our friend Frank got too tired after enjoying brandy with|
Eventually the band took a break and the main courses were served. Spreading the meal out over several hours was enjoyable but we were full before the main courses came to the table. We all ate anyway; every one of us. I opted for the fish and it was wonderful. But, boy! Were we stuffed! Happy to dance off that huge meal.
After the main course was removed from the tables, another entertainment act appeared. The translator told us that this was the only woman in Russia who does this type of entertainment. It used to be more common, but today supposedly this woman is the only one left who does this.
|Skirts twirling up and off|
|Last skirt over head|
After what seemed like forever she was down to a plain chemise and her dance stopped. And she could walk without wobbling. Do not know how she could have twirled in circles for so long and so fast and not have gotten dizzy. I was impressed.
|Me dancing with Turkish guy in Turkish fashion|
The emcee called 5 or 6 men up to the dance floor and held a dance contest. All were good sports and the crowd applauded to indicate who was the winner. All in good fun. Then the emcee did something with 5 or 6 women on the dance floor but I forgot what the ladies' contest was. I was talking with other guests and missed that part.
The band played more. We danced more. Many people drank more. Long before this time I had switched to plain bottled water. Others had moved on to brandy. Bet I felt better the following morning than some of them.
|Alena tossing bridal bouquet to single gals|
|Riza tossing grooms's boutonniere to|
single men guests. They do not do
the garter like Americans do.
The wedding cake was brought out and the traditional slices fed to bride and groom. Then the cake was served as dessert to all guests. And then we all danced some more.
The wedding had started for guests when the bus collected us at the hotel at 11:00. At 23:30 the English speaking contingent of guests declared an end to the partying. We shared taxis back to the hotel and called it a night. How many 12 1/2 hour weddings have you attended? This was fun and we felt honored to have been included as guests.