Boris and Maja’s Serbian wedding

One of the best things about my job is that I get to attend different types of weddings. Recently I got the chance to film Boris and Maja’s Serbian wedding.

On the day, I saw and took part in customs and traditions that were completely new to me and enjoyed the experience immensely – and shot some fantastic footage!

Here are some of the amazing traditions of a Serbian wedding.

Best man and maid of honour

As with any wedding, the bride and groom need to choose a best man and maid of honour. In Serbian culture, being chosen for these roles is a high honour. The ‘Kum’ and ‘Kuma’ are important people in the couple’s lives – they act as a witness or spiritual advisor to protect the marriage, and often become godparents to the couple’s children.

A test of worthiness

The bride’s home has an archway decorated with flowers set up at the front gate. And an apple hangs from the top of the arch. The idea is that the groom shoots the apple to show he’s worthy of marrying the bridge. If he can’t do it, he doesn’t get to pass through the gate.

Haggling for the bride

Obviously, in 2021, we don’t buy our brides, but it was done in Serbia until the mid-1800s. And it’s led to a fun, light-hearted custom today where the groom shows up to the bride’s house before the wedding and has to negotiate a suitable amount for his bride with her male relatives. It’s usually great entertainment to watch them argue over how much the bride is worth (all in good fun of course). Once they reach an agreement, the bride appears.

Welcome with rakija

Rakija is a very alcoholic drink, much like brandy, that is popular at Serbian celebrations like weddings. A popular custom is for relatives of the happy couple to provide the guests with rakija in a buklia – a small, round, wooden flask (or cutura) with a strap on it so they can carry it with them.

The Ceremony

Once all the pre-wedding fun is out of the way, it’s time to get married. The Ceremony was Filmed at The Serbian Orthodox Church St Nicholas Woolloongabba.  FIrst time here but totally Stunning inside. Unlike most western weddings everybody stands, no one is seated. The gentlemen and ladies of the congregation are separated to either side of the church.

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Ring exchange

Maja and Boris’s wedding ceremony included a blessing of the rings. The priest blesses the rings by making a sign of the cross over the couple. Then the couple exchange the rings between them three times to show that they will complement each other and make up for each other’s weaknesses in their life together.

Candles

The priest then gives the couple lit candles to hold. The flame symbolises the light of Christ, and couple’s willingness to receive God’s blessing and live a life of virtue and purity.

Joining of the hands

The bride and groom have their hands joined together with a white cloth while the priest reads a prayer asking God to unite the couple in ‘oneness’. Their hands stay joined throughout the ceremony to show their unity.

Crowning

The couple faces the altar and the priest holds two crowns over the couple and prays for them. Then the priest places a crown on each of their heads. This crowning represents their union with Christ and the royalty of marriage.

Shared cup

The priest then offers the bride and groom a sip of wine from a ‘common cup’. This shows that, from this moment on, they will share all of their life – the good and the bad.

Walk around the table

Joining hands, the couple takes a walk in procession with the priest around a circular table. This moment represents them taking their first steps as husband and wife. They circle the table three times to represent the unity of the Holy Trinity

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After the wedding

Coin and candy toss

Once the wedding is over, the guests leave the church and wait for the couple outside. When they appear, the best man (Kum) tosses coins and candy in the air. This is much more exciting than plain old rice!

Throwing money and candy represents everyone’s hope for the couple’s wealth and a ‘sweet’ life. It’s fun watching the children run around and try to collect as much as they can.

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