ARMENIAN WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY
Wedged between Georgia and Turkey, Armenia is an ancient country steeped in tradition and there’s no event where this is more apparent than weddings. Armenian weddings are a time of joyous celebration between not only the bride and groom but also their families, who are involved well before the groom has even proposed.
While the “seven days and seven nights” of celebration are not commonly adhered to nowadays, many Armenian brides and grooms still opt to incorporate some of the traditional customs and rituals into their weddings. A significant majority of Armenians belong to the Armenian Apostolic Church, with the faith playing an important role in the wedding ceremony itself.
THE KHOSK-KAPIn Armenian tradition, it’s customary for the groom to ask the bride’s family for her hand in marriage before he officially proposes during a ceremony known as the Khosk-Kap. This usually occurs during a formal dinner at the bride’s home, with the eldest of the groom’s family members doing the ask. If the elders in the bride’s family agrees, everyone drinks tea to celebrate and the wedding planning starts immediately.
THE ENGAGEMENT CEREMONYWhile engagement parties are only celebrated by some western brides and grooms, in the Armenian culture they are an essential part of the wedding process. During an engagement party, the groom presents a tray to his bride that is decorated with a ring, bracelet, earrings and a red dress, each of which symbolizes a particular vow that she will take.
GETTING READY ON THE WEDDING DAY
On the wedding morning, the bride and groom traditionally get ready in their respective homes, with the bride’s home decorated lavishly and stocked with sweet desserts and Armenian foods. Historically, the best man would dance his way to the bride’s house with a sinis - a gift-wrapped basket filled with essential items she needs on her wedding day, including flowers, perfume, shoes and brandy!
Armenian brides traditionally wore red silk dresses with a red and green cardboard crown that symbolized the life and sacrifice they were giving to their groom.
The groom usually prepares for his wedding day accompanied by a traditional sazander music band, with plenty of singing and dancing. Green and red ribbons are usually placed on the clothing of guests before the groom and his entourage join the bride at her house.
However, when he goes to leave the bride’s home, a male relative will prevent him from doing so by blocking the doorway with a sword and only let him go once he’s paid some money.
THE BRIDE'S SHOES
One of the most playful elements of getting ready during an Armenian wedding is the bride’s shoes being stolen, which is an inevitable part of the day. Her shoes are only returned if someone pays for them to be (usually her brother), with the shoes placed onto the bride’s feet with the money inside for good luck.
Some Armenian brides also uphold the tradition of writing the names of each of her bridesmaids on the bottom of her wedding shoes, then crossing them off as each bridesmaid eventually gets married.
ROLE OF THE GOD FAMILY
In Armenian custom, the married couple that is the closest to the bride and groom act as the God Family and witnesses to the wedding ceremony. They’re also expected to bring the most expensive gift for the newlyweds and pledge to accept responsibility for their marriage being a success. The Godfather is tasked with presenting the bride and making the first toast, as well as a range of other wedding day responsibilities.
WEDDING CEREMONY RITUALS
Armenian wedding ceremonies are filled with traditional rituals, including the couple receiving crowns from their parents or the priest, symbolizing the new “kingdom” they are creating. It’s also tradition to break plates to drive evil from the new couple’s home, as well as feature the phrase “May you grow old on one pillow” somewhere in the proceedings.
During an Armenian wedding reception, guests usually shower the bride and groom with money as they perform their first dance, wishing them financial success throughout their marriage. Doves are also an important part of Armenian wedding ceremonies and often released during the reception as a symbol of love and fortune.
WHY WE LOVE PHOTOGRAPHING ARMENIAN WEDDINGS
- From the colors of red and green to the breaking of plates, Armenian weddings are filled with symbolism that is a reflection of your long-established cultural tradition.
- We love all the rituals and getting ready celebrations of Armenian weddings and the opportunity to capture these special moments so they endure for a lifetime.
- Armenian weddings are often lavish events, with carefully selected details and decor that we love to capture for you to remember for years to come.
- We know that the dance floor will be filled during an Armenian reception and love to get in amongst all the action to capture the energy of your family and friends as they celebrate your new union.
HOW WE APPROACH ARMENIAN WEDDINGS
- We know that Armenian weddings are often large affairs, so we always bring a team of photographers, lead by yours truly (Henry Chen) to ensure that no moment is missed.
- We always have a meeting with our bridal couples before their wedding to ensure we understand each and every element of their Armenian wedding plans and are prepared to photograph it creatively and beautiful.
- From the playful antics of stealing the bride’s shoes to the religious rituals of the ceremony itself, we know that Armenian weddings are filled with emotion that we’ll document through beautiful photograph.
- We know that the bridal attire and shoes of Armenian weddings are highly symbolic and set aside plenty of time to capture these in the most atmospheric natural light.
- Using high-quality camera equipment and state-of-the-art lighting techniques, we know how to beautifully document your Armenian church wedding, even in the dimmest lighting conditions.
TIPS ON HAVING AN ARMENIAN WEDDING
- Armenian weddings are often on a large scale, with hundreds of wedding guests attending, so we recommend you hire a wedding planner to take care of all the logistical details. This will ensure things run as smoothly as possible, allowing you to really enjoy each and every moment of your special day.
- Select the Armenian wedding rituals that are most important to you and your family, then chat with your wedding planner about how you can best fuse these with any western traditions you want to incorporate.
- Once you’ve decided on the traditional elements you are including, make sure you let your photographer know so they can be in the right place at the right time to capture them from the best angle possible.
- We highly recommend that you make photography a top priority and schedule in plenty of time in your wedding day schedule to capture all the once-in-a-lifetime moments and symbolic events that make Armenian weddings so special.