Weddings in Armenia could be similar to weddings in other countries. Additionally, Armenians around the world may celebrate differently and there are different alternatives to celebration based on the cultural background of an Armenian population; Iranian Armenians have different customs than Armenians in Armenia, Turkey, Lebanon, and so on.
Weddings Members and Roles in Armenia
In the course of the wedding, there are a few members or participants that play significant roles during the process.
Godfather (Քավոր) and his wife, the Godmother (քավորկին)
Azab Bashi (Ազաբ բաշի)
The godfather of the couple getting married is like the guarantor of the marriage’s success and is someone the couple can always turn to for help and advise. He has to be from the groom’s side. His wife helps the bride and she, too, serves the same purpose as her husband.
Azab Bashi is a word of Persian origin meaning “to be unmarried”. The Azab Bashi is an unmarried man from the groom’s side of the family that helps the groom dress and helps him throughout the entire wedding ceremony.
Bride's Brother (Հարսնախպեր)
Weddings in Armenia usually only have of one bridesmaid; there may be two, but the second is usually a female child. The bridesmaid’s purpose is to help the bride dress, and always be ready to assist the bride throughout the ceremony.
The bride’s brother plays an important role in the process of being in the bride’s house, as he puts the bride’s shoes on and is expected to block everyone from leaving and proceeding with the rest of the ceremony in return for money or gifts.
Other than the groom and the bride, these 5 people are the most important in the wedding ceremony. Of course, there are many other participants, such has the parents of the bride and groom, and other friends and family.
So what is a wedding day in Armenia like? Let’s see!
Note: It is not an obligation for the bride and the groom to go and register their marriage in the registry office. They can do it anytime.
However, almost every married couple have gone there at a certain point throughout their marriage.
Before the Groom's Arrival
On the morning of the wedding day, the groom’s family is expected to go to the bride’s house. Prior to their arrival, the bride gets dressed, with the help of the bridesmaid and the godmother. The godmother spins the veil around on the top of the bride’s head thrice, and then puts it on her head.
Traditionally, the groom’s family would bring the wedding dress to the bride’s house, where women from both sides would watch or/and help the bride dress up. However, lately, many opt to dress up prior to the groom’s and his family’s arrival, thus, she keeps it with her for the wedding day.
Prior to the groom’s arrival, the bridesmaid steals a single shoe (bride’s shoes) and the brother of the bride has to pay her a ‘bribe’ in order to have the shoe returned. He then proceeds to put his sister’s (the bride’s) shoes on her feet, and on the sole of the shoe, he places money.
After the Groom's Arrival
When the groom and his family arrives, musicians are hired to play music with instruments like the clarinet, dhol (Armenian drum-like instrument) while the family hold trays with gifts on them and dances to the music. A few youngsters (from the bride’s side) come out of the bride’s house to welcome them into the bride’s house; while they are doing this, they give presents to those they greet.
After everyone gets into the bride’s house, the groom is invited into the room (where the bride is) by one of the women there, where he meets the bride. He then takes her out of the room. With both sides of the family present, the godfather says a toast to the couple getting married and those present drink a glass of wine, brandy, or any other type of alcoholic drink to the toast.
As the bride and groom are about to leave, the bride’s brother stands in the middle of the open door holds a knife to the door, blocking the way. The godfather is supposed to ‘bride’ the bride’s brother so much (with money and gifts) so that he lets them out.
After leaving the bride’s home, the participants head for a selected church. In the church, a priest awaits the bride and groom, and in front of the altar, they say their vows. From here, participants head for the groom’s house.
The Groom's House
A large piece of the Armenian flatbread, Lavash, is placed on the shoulders of both the bride and the groom. The mother of the groom awaits the newlyweds outside her house, to welcome both the groom and the bride with a spoon of honey each. Plates are placed upside down on the doorstep to the groom’s house, which is generally taken from the bride’s house. Then, the groom and the bride have to break the plates with their feet and walk in only after that.
In the groom’s house, the bride and the groom remove the lavash and just like in the bride’s house, they drink a toast and head for the hall they have reserved for the celebration.
The Celebration Hall
The wedding celebration takes place in the hall and usually lasts long and finishes late.
During the wedding celebration, the bride is expected to dance the “bride’s dance”, or “Հարսի պար” (harsi par) in Armenian. She may dance alone, or she may choose to dance with a few other young women. After the celebratory dance, toasts are said and loud music is played as guests and the newlyweds dance in celebration of the wedding.
The Godfather is the main speaker at the wedding and one of the most important toasts said during the wedding is a toast to the Godfather of the newlywed couple.
The guests are given a small gift, which is generally the same object. This gift is known as a “Taros” or “Tarosik” and it serves as a reminder of the attended wedding and is given to wish happiness and love to the guests as well, particularly those who have not married yet.
After the Celebration
After the celebration at the celebration hall, the wedding day celebrations may come to an end. The newlyweds are to have their honeymoon the next day; some choose to travel to other places, and some stay in their new homes.
In some parts of the world, Armenians maintained the tradition of celebrating “7 days and nights.” In that week, they may prepare for the wedding day by having the henna ceremony, or other ceremonies specific to the area/region. Food is prepared, and guests visit the home of the married couple and party.