You are almost married! You just need to pick up the bride from her parents' house and escort her to the church ceremony - which is called "crowning" in Ukraine. But understand, nobody in Ukraine is prepared to give the bride away with just a simple 'thank you'. ..

Attention: you already hear distant horns from the groom's wedding cortege. Guests are scattering from their cars and in a minute, a procession headed by the groom is standing at the "gates".

IT HAS BEGUN!

Initial Meeting of Parties

The "Gates" refers to an area with a nice decorated table with some flowers and special table cloth. The table is located in front of the main entrance of the house where the bride resides. On the one side of table - bridesmaids, friends of the bride, and locals from the neighborhood wait in anticipation. At last the dialog of parties has started! The bride's friends begin by asking the groom why exactly he came here today?! "To recieve my bride" – he says proudly. Eventually the groom realizes that he can't get the bride so easily. Because she, having all that beauty, kindness and thrift, is very precious for her family. The bride's family will require the groom to acknowledge the bride's sense of worth. The wise groom shall offer his full cooperation with the demands of the bride's representatives. Such cooperation includes payment for the bride!

And so the bargaining begins... The respective party of the bride proceeds to glorify and compliment her however they can, as to establish her high sense of worth. Meanwhile, the groom's support group attempts to counter such actions with their own negotiating techniques, as to establish a more favorable price for the groom to pay. The groom will take a more passive role during this process. Yet he will be required to thoroughly describe his potential bride as he will be given the oppurtunity to express his love and admiration for her. The groom will also be given an oppurtunity to express his present and future intentions.

Eventually the two parties agree on price. It can be anything – champagne and candies, some money, or some other presents from the groom's party. But the payment of material goods or money is not the only thing which awaits the friendly groom's company. Bridesmaids could also prepare different tests for the groom and his best friends. For example, the groom may be asked to guess which one of the lipstick prints on the paper is from the bride. And if the groom doesn't choose the right one - he either pays more, or faces another consequence.

And here it is – the long awaited moment! The doors open and the bride appears from within her home. But apparrently - The groom is shocked! He is frightened and confused trying to understand how could he fall in love with this monster with such hairy legs and huge belly - and a mustache! He soon realizes that this bride is a fake. Such situation suggests that the size of the groom's payment was too small and it should increased with money, or with some spirits and sweets.

The main point in whole this process is not to gain profit or presents from the groom, but to have fun learning and discovering about the groom and bride. If both parties are clever and creative enough, this experience will be enjoyable not only for local Ukrainians, but even for foreigners who might not be understanding of the actual language.

Ultimately, the process of bargaining should never take too long because the young couple must get to the church service and to RAGS (city hall) to register their marriage legally. If the negotiation will take too long, it may ruin the great festive mood for the bride and groom.

Careful planning of such details can save your special day.

Meanwhile, as both parties negotiate...

A long time ago, before giving the bride to the reliable hands of her future husband, she would have been dressed in a strict appropriate manner.

How long does it take? For example, Hutsuls(Carpathian Mountain natives) could spend three hours dressing the bride. Sure you will say that modern brides may take as much time with their preparations, with all those hairstyles and manicures. But understand that Hutsuls are not accustomed to elaborate cosmetic use, as they prefer a more natural look.

When dressing their brides, Hutsuls would beautify her with colorful embroidered shirts, a wide woven belt, hankerchieves, a sheepskin coat, an embroidered necklace, and special shoes – red sandals. The bride's hair would be beautifully braided and decorated with different flowers, ribbons and various small, red trinkets in which coins and cloves of garlic are hidden inside as a preventative measure against bad energies. The bride's mother would also put a wreath on the head of her daughter, in which the bride cannot take off until the end of a wedding. This is performed as a blessing of good luck for the couple's future.

Nowadays, the wreath is often replaced with bread given from the godparents. The bread will be decorated with a little wreath on top. It is customary for the bride to kiss the bread while kneeling.

But enough about Hutsuls... Modern traditions as you may know, are not so diferrent. The main difference being in the style of dress of the bride and groom. And of course, most don't put garlic on their heads today!

While closest relatives are dressing the bride, she is sitting anxiously on a chair with a pillow. When the bride stands up and goes out to the groom, the bridesmaids compete against each other to be the first to fall on the pillow. The bridesmaid that falls on that pillow first – will be the first to become marrried herself.

So after the negotiations, the dressing of the bride, and the bridesmaids competing for the lucky pillow, the bride and groom finally unite. They are greeted by their godparents, who proceed to bless them with holy icons.