Wedding scenes were quite common throughout Russia--in small villages and large cities. All weddings must have a civil ceremony and then, if desired, a second ceremony in church. The couples were heartbreakingly young and beautiful, but knowing what I found out about the state of marriage in Russia, I wondered if this was not going to be the happiest day for them. This party was on the grounds of Peterhof across the river from St. Petersburg. That's the Gulf of Finland in the background:
The most important tradition though is for the wedding party to hit the streets in a limo and make stops at famous landmarks where photographers would take photos--I saw wedding groups in Red Square and Gorky Park and palaces. The "Locks of Love" tree was on the Luzhov Bridge in Moscow. Apparently it is a Russian custom for the couple to kiss on a bridge on their wedding day and "lock" their wedding vows to the bridge railings or, on the Lushov Bridge, to trees of locks that span this pedestrian walkway:
Despite all these optimistic beginnings, the state of love and marriage was quite shaky in Russia according to our local guides and statistics that I read. Russia has the highest divorce rate of any developed country, according to some stats that I saw. Causes were pretty damning toward Russian men--alcoholism, wife abuse, infidelity, lack of paternal responsibility in the family, and men not working to support the family.
Two examples. In Moscow I had a young male guide for one full day. He had previously described himself as a philosopher and thinker. I asked what he did after the tour season closed in October and he said that since the winters were so cold in Moscow he preferred to stay in the apartment and study and be home when his small son came back from school. His wife, one the other hand, enjoyed working and went out to a public job that was very responsible and required long bus commutes morning and evening! Somehow I suspected that dinner would not be ready when she got home, nor the son bathed and ready for bed!
Second example, in St. Petersburg my guide was a young woman who cared for a sick toddler and a rebellious teenager. She described her husband as "sensitive and kind" but struggled with alcoholism and no work. As had been the case with a previous marriage. She said that young Russian women really wanted to marry but for some they hoped for a western husband.
The clincher: Moscow traffic was CRAZY with two hour commutes to work in the city not uncommon. The government at one time had a push on for Moscowvites to use the excellent metro system, but in a survey men said that they preferred to sit in their cars in traffic rather than get home sooner. If they got home too early, their wives would expect them to do some house cleaning or take care of the children. Arrive late and all they had to do was eat dinner, watch a little TV and go to bed! No surprise, those high divorce rates.
For more closeups from all over, or to enter your own macros, be sure to check out Lisa's Chaos here every Monday.