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The cars are used to collect the bride, and go to ZAGS for registration ceremony.In the old days (before Perestroyka) the bride's family was supposed to pay for the reception, nowadays brides' and groom's families usually share expenses.Nowadays the new rich probably have something more Western-like, but the ordinary people's weddings still fit into this description. The wedding is usually planned soon, within 1-3 months.The time depends on the department of registrations (ZAGS - department of registration of civil statuses, that is also responsible for registrations of births and deaths, divorces etc).Reading your account brought back many happy memories.

I was not expecting the treatment I received at the wedding.The two buy them together; the groom pays; this is the necessary part of the wedding tradition.Russian engagement rings are in reality just plain wedding bands of gold, without diamonds or stones, and they wear them on the RIGHT hand on the finger next to the "pinky".The couple is supposed to apply in writing to the department of registrations asking to register their marriage.The department will give them available dates (when the registrar is available), but according to the law there must be at least 1 month of "waiting period".Still quite a few couples do not appear in ZAGS on the day of registration without a prior notice.After the couple has applied to the department of registration, they are considered as being a bride and a groom; but Russians do not talk about being engaged, they say "They handed in the application".The more cars participating in the wedding train, the more proud the couple will be.Usually they ask all their friends and relatives who have cars to join the ceremony.I was able to participate in the wedding, as I served as the "Substitute groom" when the bride and groom were kidnapped during the reception.I was also part of a children's fairy tale during the ceremony (as the "moon"). Your description of the Russian wedding was very accurate, and I made a copy to keep in my private scrapbook of the wedding.