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Category Archives: Church wedding

Wedding in Georgia: Customs and Traditions

All our stories are about couples from different countries who have chosen Georgia as the place to join their hearts. They also choose different traditions, but we have never told you about the original Georgian wedding traditions. We’re fixing that in this article, especially because there is a lot to say.

Traditions carried through the centuries

W-art

Time refuses to stand still, people’s culture is changing, and new relationships in the family and reassessment of old customs appear with it. For example, in our time, the bride’s face is not covered with a veil before the wedding, and horses, sheep or copper utensils are not required as a dowry. Significantly reduced the time for preparation for the ceremony and the wedding itself. Earlier in some regions of Georgia, such as Svaneti, more than a year could pass between the betrothal and the wedding itself. Now most often from the first stage to the last passes no more than one week. The feast itself now also does not last for 7 days and rarely stretches even for 2 days. Classical Georgian weddings preserved the main points of the ritual and represent an organic merging of traditions with new foundations of life.

Each region of Georgia is famous for its unique rites, which are still observed in remote regions of the country. Well, a modern Georgian-style wedding traditionally includes:

Machankloba, matchmaking

Such a ceremony as matchmaking is still an important stage in preparing for the wedding. The groom must ask the bride’s hands and hearts from the parents. Without the consent of the parents, a couple may not wait for happy family life. Usually, machankloba takes place in the form of a family dinner.

Nicheba, a rite of betrothal

The main thing in this ritual is the presentation of a wedding ring to the bride, which is often an heirloom inherited. The bride’s family invites the groom to her and is obliged to set a rich table for the celebration for 50 or more people. During a niche, not only a golden wedding ring is given to the bride, but also perfumes, expensive wine, cognac and chocolates. In response, the girl’s family gives the groom a golden bracelet or chain and puts it on during the feast.

(с) W-art
(с) W-art
Cortzili, wedding celebration

The celebration of the wedding can drag on for a couple of days and usually takes place noisy and crowded. The wedding is celebrated according to all traditions by the groom’s family. It is customary to invite all family members, so more than 500 people attend the celebration at numerous births.

By tradition, the first meeting of the bride and groom before the wedding takes place in the house of the bride, where the girl prepares for the ceremony and sets up a buffet table. The bridegroom is supposed to very loudly – with noise and cheers – announce their arrival. In most cases, the groom is not allowed to go to the bride immediately. Here is another ancient tradition – the ransom of the bride. The male part of the bride’s family arranges a test for the groom and tries to find out how much he knows her well. Questions are asked in a comic form and a ransom is requested. All this staging skirmish takes place in front of the closed bedroom doors, in which the bride is waiting for her narrowed. When both sides come to an agreement, the groom enters the bride with a large bouquet of flowers. 

In addition to the bouquet, shoes should be presented to the young man as a gift. After that, another rite that pays tribute to ancient traditions: the groom affectionately and with great respect puts on his future wife’s shoes in a sign that now he will provide her in everything. If the ceremony did not happen, then this may cause surprise and misunderstanding in a traditional Georgian family.

The bride should not leave the parental home without a groom. They must come out together, it is always very touching for the parents of the future couple and few can hold back the tears of happiness at this moment.

The image of the modern Georgian bride has undergone changes. Even at a traditional Georgian wedding, the bride can most often be seen dressed in European style. A fluffy white dress that complements the lace cape and sheer veil. The groom often puts on traditional clothes – “Chokha” or a black formal suit.

Feast, toasts and dagger ringing

(с) W-art

Traditionally, regardless of the region, they tried to play a wedding by the end of autumn or winter. The best day of the week for a wedding was Saturday on a full moon. And in Mingrelia they loved to celebrate the wedding and the wedding on Sunday because for them it is the happiest day of the week.

When it comes to the wedding itself, the whole Georgian flavor is used. Georgian wedding table is bursting with treats. A wedding without a pig simply can not be. Unusual for foreigners, it may seem that the cake is cut with a dagger. Another element without which it is difficult to imagine a Georgian wedding is a toast. Each toast, the recitation of which is conducted by the host, is dedicated to the newlyweds and is full of deep meaning. A guest who has been given the floor should say a toast and drain the horn completely.

The role of the toastmaster at the Georgian feast deserves special attention because this is the most authoritative and respected person at the table. A close relative or a specially invited person can become a host. The most important thing, firstly, this person should enjoy authority, and secondly – to be able to manage the feast according to all the rules, and thirdly, according to legends, he should not get drunk. Everyone listens to and respects the host, he leads the toasts: he says them himself or passes the word to one of the guests, which is called “Alaverdi”. Thanks to this traditional word, “dialogue in toasts” is formed. Near the host, there is always a person; in Georgia, they call him “merikipe”. ” He makes sure that everyone has wine in the glasses, pours it in time – this is his only task at the feast.

A church wedding in our time is no longer an obligatory ritual, but many young couples still prefer to tie their knots in heaven and undergo a ceremony in the church. After the wedding, another colorful and original ritual is performed – friends or artists in national costumes build a corridor of blades for a young couple through which they must pass. The ringing of blades protects the young family and prophesies a happy life together. By the way, this is one of the few attributes of a traditional Georgian wedding, which foreigners who have decided to celebrate their wedding in Georgia are happy to borrow. 

National dances and Georgian polyphony

(c) Anastasia Sholokhova

You can not imagine traditional Georgian weddings of local residents and foreigners without dances and polyphonic singing. Only talented artists are invited as dancers. It is difficult to look away from their performance. At a traditional Georgian wedding, newlyweds must also perform a traditional dance. It is always the same for everyone, with certain music, with certain movements, and is called “Kartuli”. This is a long-established tradition, and no variations are provided here. Although it is called the dance of love, the newlyweds, dancing, do not touch each other. “Kartuli” symbolizes the gentle, respectful attitude of the groom to the bride and fascinates all guests at the festive table.

Not a single wedding feast goes without songs. It should be noted that UNESCO recognized Georgian songs as a unique phenomenon in world culture. At the wedding, singers are exclusively men. Very often these are whole ensembles of up to 15 people. Their polyphony sounds amazing and clings to the very heart.

The traditional Georgian wedding, although it underwent changes with the passage of time, but retained all the basic primordial rites and rules. If you want to add a little Georgian flavor to your wedding, we will help you find the best singers and dancers who will decorate your wedding and leave an unusual and unforgettable experience.

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Wedding in Mtskheta and Jvari

Are you choosing a wedding venue in Georgia? Then you have probably heard that this country is famous for its numerous Orthodox churches and monasteries. Today we are travelling to Mtskheta, the old capital of Georgia and its religious center. This is one of our couples’ favourite places. Proximity to Tbilisi, rich history, hills and mountains… How is Georgia possible without mountains?

Why Mtskheta?

Mtskheta was the capital of Georgia until the V century, and it still remains the most significant historical place for the Georgians and country’s guests. This ancient city is located just a couple of kilometers away from Tbilisi, which is important for those who are planning their wedding in the capital. A short trip to Mtskheta will perfectly fit into a limited budget or a strict schedule. For example, you could register your marriage in one of Tbilisi city halls, have a photoshoot in Mtskheta and then come back for the dinner with a spectacular view of the shimmering Tbilisi skyline. Short distances between the cities allow us to facilitate logistics and have enough time to visit both locations.

A trip to Mtskheta includes a walk around the narrow cobbled streets and a visit of two main city sights — Svetitskhoveli Cathedral and Jvari Monastery. The first one was built in the XI century and despite much damage, still preserves this unique spirit of ancient history in its thick walls. You can make great photos inside of Svetitskhoveli or on the site behind the cathedral, overlooking the mighty Jvari, towering above the rivers. By the way, you can request an official Public Service hall representative and have a cozy ceremony right at this place. The ceremony surrounded by two main churches of Georgia will be a truly solemn lifetime experience. 

(c) Anastasia Sholkova
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The official registration and church wedding

You can also register your marriage in Mtskheta. The public hall is located in front of the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral: a private hall can fit up to 40 people. The application must be submitted one week before the date of your marriage. If you are not planning to come to Mtskheta beforehand, just send us all your documents by express mail. We will prepare all the necessary papers and submit them on your behalf by proxy.

While planning your church wedding in Svetitskhoveli, it is important to remember that this cathedral is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, which means that thousands of couples from all over the world travel to Mtskheta to have their wedding there. Marriage ceremony at this place will probably not become a moment of intimacy in the sight of God for you two, as the number of tourists remains large here at any time of the year. The ceremony in Svetitskhoveli will allow you to become part of a centuries-old history, though for a more secluded and solemn wedding we would recommend that you choose another, more private, church. We will be glad to help you find one.

The number of tourists in Mtskheta remains large at any time of the year.


Jvari Monastery

Not far from Mtskheta, on the rocky mountain top, there is the famous Jvari Monastery, a church built in the VI century. This site is known world-wide for its incredible view: it stands right at the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers. This place if perfect for a romantic photoshoot (a love-story, for example), or for an outdoor ceremony at the monastery’s walls. If you choose Jvari for your wedding, note that it is located on a hill, thus it has significant weather peculiarities. In the summer it might get very hot up there, and there are strong winds almost at any time (especially in spring).  Gusts of wind can be so severe that sometimes we are hardly able to place the ceremony decoration. Despite such conditions, Jvari still remains one of the most visited locations for wedding photoshoots in Georgia.

(с) Anastasia Sholkova

Mtskheta and Jvari are the most popular sites close to Tbilisi, but they are not the only beautiful locations nearby. For example, just a 20-minute drive away from the city, there is the Kojori fortress, which has an amazing view of the mountain tops and, covered with summer haze. While planning your wedding in Tbilisi, you get a great chance to visit several locations nearby without big expenses. Tell us about your dreams and we will create an individual itinerary just for you! 🙂

(c) Anna Dilbaryan
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Church wedding in Georgia: choosing the location and preparation

Hospitable Georgia is famous not only for its local colour, culture and cuisine, but also for its numerous ancient churches and monasteries. This country was one of the first ones to convert to Christianity in IV century: think of how long and rich the religious tradition is here! In that regard, our couples ask us if it is possible to arrange a church wedding for non-residents. What are the steps for it? What is the language of the ceremony? How to choose the church? The ceremony of the church wedding is a delicate and complicated question, that is why we decided to write a special feature on this topic. Below you will find some information about the formal steps in this process, and also description of several churches that are the most suitable ones for a church wedding.

(c) Liu
(c) Anastasia Sholkova

Choosing the church

So, you have decided not only to have a wedding in Georgia but also to have a church ceremony in this beautiful warm country as well. The first question that you face is choosing the location. It is important to note that not every church of Georgia offers an orthodox ceremony for foreign citizens. This is due to the fact that most of the church services are held in Georgian: a lot of priests do not agree to conduct this service if the couple doesn’t understand its language. Therefore, as soon as you make a decision considering the city for your wedding, you should better consult with your wedding planner regarding the availability of the ceremonies for foreigners in this particular church.

Church wedding in Tbilisi

Tbilisi is probably the most accessible and democratic option for the orthodox couples who don’t speak Georgian. Firstly, in Tbilisi there are three Russian orthodox churches — St. Alexander the Neva church, The Archangel Michael church and Lurji (Blue) Monastery. All of them have services in Church Slavonic language.

Secondly, there are several cathedrals where you can have a church wedding in Georgian language. First and foremost, it is the main cathedral of Georgian Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church — Sameba Cathedral. This grand building is among the highest orthodox cathedrals in the world: the wedding ceremony at this place will leave a truly unforgettable impression in your heart! The second-most popular places in Tbilisi is the Sioni Cathedral of the Dormition, which was previously the main cathedral of Georgian Church. This uniquely beautiful church is smaller and more cosy than the new one, so it will be more suitable for a private ceremony.

(с) Anastasia Sholkova

As soon as you make a decision considering the city for your wedding, you’d better consult with your wedding planner regarding the availability of the ceremonies for foreigners in this particular church.


Mtskheta and Jvari

Forty minutes from Tbilisi, there is a famous old capital of Georgia Mtskheta and a Jvari Monastery situated not far away from it. The central sight of Mtskheta is one of the oldest cathedrals of Georgia — The Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. This holy place is recognised by Unesco as a World Heritage Site. Thanks to this, thousands of couples from all over the world choose this location as a place that will unite their hearts in a sacred marriage. We also recommend to consider the Jvari Monastery, one more church with a centuries-old history. It was built in the VI century, and from the area in front of it, there is an unforgettable view of the two rivers’ confluence. This view became a classical symbol of many Russian and Georgian poets. You can combine church marriage at Jvari with a photo session against this amazing background: it will surely complete this special day!

(с) Anastasia Sholkova

Marriage in the mountains and by the sea

If you prefer the mighty mountain scenery and you want to have a church wedding surrounded by magic ridges, swift winds and breathtaking views, you’d better choose the Trinity Church in Gergeti village, close to Kazbegi. You have probably seen the stunning views from the famous Rooms Hotel Terrace: imagine what a meaningful experience it will be to have a wedding at this grand mountain peak! It feels like you really get closer to God there… Remember also that the ceremony at Gergeti church is held in Georgian only.

For the couples who prefer the atmosphere of a seaside town, we can offer the wedding ceremony in Batumi. The Holy Trinity Church may become a great place for this ritual. It is located on a high mountain Sameba and the ceremonies are held only in Georgian. Otherwise, if you are looking for a wedding in Russian, we could help you to find a good location with services in Russian.

(с) Anastasia Sholkova

Preparing for the ceremony

The requirements for those who have decided to have a church wedding are quite simple. Firstly, the bride and groom must be baptized as orthodox Christians, they also must not have any other marital relationship. It is recommended that some time before the ceremony, the couple spends in fasting and praying. They should also go to confession and take communion in advance. On the wedding day, the couple arrives at the church beforehand in order to have an obligatory conversation with the abbot. They should also have their passports and wedding rings with them and provide two baptized witnesses. In case you are planning a private wedding just for two of you, we will be glad to arrange the presence of the witnesses. Finally, take into account the orthodox calendar in Georgia: church weddings are not held on Wednesdays and Fridays, during the big orthodox holidays and during the fasting periods.

Catholic church wedding

Georgia attracts not only orthodox Christians but also Catholics, that is why we want to make a brief comment on the catholic ceremony. We suggest that you consider St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church in Tbilisi, as it is the most democratic location. In order to have a wedding church here you only need to provide your baptism certificates, certificates confirming that you have passed special courses at your church and the permission from your church to have a wedding in Georgia. The catholic wedding may be held in English, Italian or Georgian languages.

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Since ancient times Christian traditions have been honoured and respected in Georgia. So having marriage in this particular country will become one of the most meaningful and symbolic events in your life. Ori Agency Team are always happy to give you the most reliable information and help with the organization of this important day.

(с) Liu