My Big Fat Ukrainian Wedding

In which Maki and I get married in what is probably one of the prettiest churches I know.

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Photo by Adam Sparkes.

 

One thing I’ve been struggling with in the past few days (besides jet lag, of course!) is the fact that the pictures I am dealing what is literally the single most photographed day of my life. As a general rule, I try to have no more than 20 pictures in a single blog post — at some point, there’s just too much to see, and even 20 is pushing it. So my solution is, rather than condense what will remain in my mind as one of the nicest days of my life into a single entry, I’m going to cover it in parts. After all, I have the pictures.

My bouquet, with handmade flowers made from maps. My parents helped with some of the flowers, and I put the final bouquet together.

My bouquet, with handmade flowers made from maps. My parents helped with some of the flowers, and I put the final bouquet together. Photo by Adam Sparkes.

As everyone at this point probably knows, Maki and I opted to do a Ukrainian Catholic wedding, for a number of reasons. Obviously Ukrainian traditions are really important to Maki. Furthermore, given that protestants generally recognize all marriages and Catholics only recognize Catholic ones, this was the only way (barring a Roman Catholic wedding, that is) that the marriage would be recognized across the board. Finally, I actually found the erasure of some of my less favorite wedding traditions (no giving the bride away) to be very ideal. So anyway, a traditional Ukrainian wedding starts not with the bride being walked down the aisle, but with a small ceremony during which the parents give their blessing for the marriage. Before we started with that, I did want to have a moment with my parents. Evidently, the message was never conveyed to my mother, but here my dad and I are.

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Pictures of my dad always look most natural when he’s laughing. Photo by Adam Sparkes.

Things were running a little behind schedule, so we moved forward. Here’s the first look.

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Photos by Adam Sparkes.

I really liked the idea of doing a parental blessing, because I think the tradition nicely recognizes all the parents involved. At ours, Maki’s parents presented us with our icons, which were commissioned especially for our wedding, and both parents offered their blessings. My parents also gave me my grandmother’s wedding ring as a gift, and my aunt, too, had a couple small things that belonged to my great-grandmother. A fitting tribute to the family members that did not live to see the day.

The parental blessing. Photo by Adam Sparkes.

The parental blessing. Photos by Adam Sparkes.

We were surrounded by family, and it was the perfect start to our big wedding.

Maki and I with Dennis, Maki's cousin's son. Photo by Adam Sparkes.

Maki and I with Dennis, Maki’s cousin’s son. Photo by Adam Sparkes.

And from there, it was time to head to the church. So Maki and I piled together into my late great-grandmother’s 1969 Cadillac and headed off to the church.

Photo by Adam Sparkes.

Photo by Adam Sparkes.

Not gonna lie, it was a pretty sweet ride. Couldn’t have been more perfect for our Detroit wedding!

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Photo by Adam Sparkes.

The church in Hamtramck, a little exclave town surrounded by Detroit, is memorably beautiful.

Walking into the church.

Walking into the church.  Photos by Adam Sparkes.

Our parents and starosty (Maki’s aunt and my uncle) walked into the church first to start the ceremony. Rather than immediately following our parents, the priest met us at the door. We both affirmed that we were entering this marriage freely and as equals, and from there, he led us down the aisle to the front of the church. Stunning. Seriously.

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Photo by Adam Sparkes.

Ukrainian weddings are based mostly in folk traditions, so the various parts of the wedding have less in common with western rite churches (protestant and Roman Catholic ones). We first exchanged rings, then vows, and then we were crowned, the actual moment we were considered married.

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Photos by Adam Sparkes.

Our hands were then tied together, and the priest took us on a little walk around the tetrapod. We shared a cup of wine as well.

Our readers (Daniel and Adrian), as well as our priest and Maki'd grandmother.

Our readers (Daniel and Adrian), as well as our priest and Maki’d grandmother. Photos by Adam Sparkes.

In a nod to my protestant upbringing, we also added a hymn to the end of the ceremony. It was so lovely to see so many friends around us as we got married.

Crowd shots. Photos by Adam Sparkes.

Crowd shots. Photos by Adam Sparkes.

And from there, we exited the church, followed by our parents and families.

Married! Photo by Adam Sparkes.

Married! Photo by Adam Sparkes.

In order not to take away our energies from the reception, we did our receiving line at the church. So many people!

Photo by Adam Sparkes.

Photo by Adam Sparkes.

After the last had gotten through, it was time to sign papers.

I kind of love how I am inspecting Maki as he signed the document, as if I don't trust him not to make a mistake. I should probably work on that. Photos by Adam Sparkes.

I kind of love how I am inspecting Maki as he signed the document, as if I don’t trust him not to make a mistake. I should probably work on that. Photos by Adam Sparkes.

And family photos.

The beginning of our posed pictures. Photo by Adam Sparkes.

The beginning of our posed pictures. Photo by Adam Sparkes.

So many family members!

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All the family members from both our sides. Photo by Adam Sparkes.

The dress I wore for the ceremony was also especially meaningful: it was the dress not only that my mother got married in, but also both of her two sisters, making me the fourth bride for the dress. We commemorated with a picture.

Four brides, four successful marriages, and one dress.

Four brides, four marriages, and one dress.

Anyway, there’s little point in going through every single photo, so I am going to end this here, with just one final set of pictures taken outside the church. After finishing the family photos, it was time for me to change, and I switched out to this other number. Lila, who tied my belt so wonderfully before, was called in to retie it for the new dress. But obviously, the real gem is the second picture here.

Photos by Adam Sparkes.

Photos by Adam Sparkes.

Maki was clearly on a mission. And indeed, we had lots of pictures to take and a wonderful afternoon and evening ahead of us!

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2 thoughts on “My Big Fat Ukrainian Wedding

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