At Imperial Banquet Hall & Wedding Venue, we are no strangers to large ethnic wedding and unique cultural events. Armenian weddings, with their vibrant traditions and extravagant receptions, hold an especially special place in our hearts, and to commemorate the Armenian couples who will celebrate their nuptials at Imperial this year, we’ve decided to share some of our favorite things about this exciting cultural event.
Like in the U.S., it is customary to ask the bride-to-be’s hand from the woman’s father; unlike in the West, however, this is typically done at a formal dinner with members of both the bride’s and groom’s family in attendance. This dinner, called either a Khosk-Kap or Khosk-Arnel, depending on the level of formality, includes gifts of floral arrangements, chocolate and cognac, tea service, and a priest to bless the engagement rings and the couple’s plans for marriage.
The Night Before the Wedding
The night before an Armenian wedding, tradition dictates that the groom’s family bring decoratively wrapped gifts of chocolate, Armenian cognac, perfume, flowers, and the shoes the bride will wear to the bride’s family’s house. During this time, the bride’s home is also decorated with family photos and food is prepared for the following day’s events.
On the morning of the wedding, the bride and the groom each get ready in their own houses; the groom’s house typically has music playing and appetizers are served to the wedding party, while the bride gets ready in the comfort of her own home, surrounded by photos of her family members and bridesmaids. Some of the most interesting wedding traditions include:
- The bride’s brother (if she has one) placing money in her shoe for good luck, and also placing the shoes on her feet.
- The bride’s single friends writing their names on the bottom of her shoes; as each bridesmaid gets married, their names are crossed from the list.
- Before being placed on the bride’s head by her happily married relatives, the veil is held over the heads of single friends to bring them luck.
- The groom wearing red and green sashes, which are affixed to his white shirt by the wisest women in the family.
- The bride wearing a blue charm with an eye called an “Atchka Ooloonk” to protect her from the “green eye of envy.”
- The “crowning” ceremony, in which crowns are placed on both the bride and groom’s head as the best man stands between them and holds a cross over the couple.
- The “May you grow old on one pillow” toast, which is a popular wedding theme and often appears on invitations and programs.
- The stealing of the bride’s shoe, in which a member of the bride’s family can steal a shoe and hold it for ransom.
Armenian Wedding Receptions
Armenian wedding receptions are joyous affairs, full of singing, dancing, eating, and drinking. Receptions are usually large (200-500 guests) and held in opulent banquet halls where enormous feasts of traditional Armenian food is served family-style to all attendees.