An Armenian engagement ceremony is almost like a wedding in itself. There is a grand party, usually in a banquet hall, where a priest blesses the engagement ring and asks the bride and groom to vow to be faithful to one another and marry in the future. Eating, drinking, and dancing, of course, ensue. But here's a brief history about where this sort of engagement comes from!

Armenian Wedding Traditions: The History of Engagement

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The Bride's Shoes:

Once the bride is dressed in her wedding gown, the closest male member of her family enters her dressing room to help the bride wear her wedding shoes. This member of her family can be a brother, cousin, or even a close family friend.

It is also part of Armenian tradition for a member of the bride's wedding party to hold one of the bride’s shoes for ransom until they are paid by the groom or member of his wedding party. This can be fun for about 5 minutes, just as long as the bride’s family members don’t drag it out for a long time and send the bride into a panic!

In addition, every single female present during the bride’s dressing process writes their name on the bottom of the bride’s shoes for good luck. As each single female gets married, the bride crosses off the girl’s name from her shoes.

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Traditionally on the morning of the wedding, the wedding party is split into two groups which begin the festivities from two separate locations. The groom, his family members, the groom’s men and the best man gather at the groom’s parent’s house. Meanwhile, the bride, her family members, the bride’s maids, the maid of honor, and the bride’s family and close friends gather at the bride’s parent’s house. The day begins fairly early depending on the time of the wedding service. Here’s an example of how a typical Armenian wedding day might be scheduled.

At Groom's Parent's House:

10:00am: Everyone meets at the groom’s parent’s house, where appetizers are served. A Sazandar, which is a traditional Armenian band consisting of percussion and wind instruments and occasionally an accordion, is present at the groom’s house. The Sazandar band begins to play once the Best Man arrives at the groom’s house.

10:30am: The photographer takes photos of the groom wearing his coat with assistance from the best man (or any other close male relative or friend). They photograph and videotape such events as the pinning of the traditional red and green ribbons.

11:00am: The groom’s family makes several toasts and dances to traditional Armenian music.

11:45am: The groom’s family leaves the house and heads to the bride’s parent’s house.

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St. Sarkis is one of the most beloved saints in Armenia. He is known as the warrior patron of love and youth. Every year Armenians celebrate the feast day of St. Sarkis and his soldiers sometime between January 11th and February 15th. According to folk stories, upon their return from a victorious battle, St. Sarkis and 39 of his soldiers, celebrated at a royal palace. As they drank and went to sleep, the King ordered 40 women to kill the saint and his soldiers. 39 women killed the soldiers, however, the one ordered to kill St. Sarkis fell in love with him and kissed him instead. St. Sarkis woke up with a rage seeing what had happened, took the woman and left the city.

St. Sarkis

Photo source Western Diocese of the Armenian Church 

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