On Saturday I joined Ben & Stefania for their sunny wedding at the Ukrainian Community Centre in Bradford (AKA ‘The Ukey Club’!).
I hope you enjoy the story of their wedding day!
I headed over the tops near Bradford, to join team bride for their preparations in Wilsden
The girls were busy wrapping up hair and makeup
I popped upstairs to take a few pics of the wedding gown from Shirbar Exclusive
One blushing bride, ready to rock!
Dad certainly thought so!
Always nice to have the sun out at a summery wedding
Ukrainian weddings are packed with fun, ancient traditions; one of which is a traditional blessing of the marriage, read in Ukrainian by the father and, in this case, in the company of family & godparents.
It’s really quite sweet and brings a few tears to the eyes.
Meanwhile, my number 2 shooter Hamish headed across to join the dudes in Queensbury
Lots of laughs were being had
And the groom, Ben, appeared very chilled.
A few details of the final preparations…
Team groom: ASSEMBLE!
One final check of roles before heading to the catchily named ‘The Parish of Mary the mother of God with St Winifrede & St. John’s Catholic Church’
I liked that everyone celebrating the wedding got a little myrtle buttonhole to pin somewhere.
I put one on my camera bag!
One proud dad!
Really like this image
Here come’s the bride!
Always nice to capture different angles on the vows, the ring and the kiss!
A quick greet and mass and it was onto the official signing of the registers…
Then back down the aisle into a barrage of cameras and phones!
Sign of the times, eh?
I like the moment when guests come out and wish the couple well, and like how this one captures both grandma’s giving their best
A good oppotrunity for a quick shot of everyone
Before a blast of colour themed confetti!
Then it was off, with the top down, for the afternoon reception at the Ukrainian community centre across town.
This place holds a lot of fond memories for the Ukrainian community, as most of the kids who marry here, and their folks, have partied hard (no doubt doing thousands of shots of Vodka!) and have generally learned to dance in the hall where the weddings are held.
I thought I’d start the portraits in front of the old stone doorway
Then took them off for a quick round of relaxed portraits around the gardens
Afterwards, Hamish focussed on capturing the guests having a good mingle
While I worked through the family lineups
Always nice to have a bit of fun with the wedding party people!
Before heading in for the meal, Stef & Ben asked if I’d do a quick portrait of them on the old staircase
The hall was decorated in the orange & pink theming, with loads of clever details and a Ukrainian wedding traditions instruction booklet for the uninitiated!
Another tradition on entering the wedding meal is “The Bread and Salt” tradition, symbolic in all Slavic cultures as welcoming custom; the bread symbolising wealth and prosperity, the salt wealth and prosperity, and salt is a shielding symbol, capable to protect a person from the hostile forces. Vodka is sipped for good health…
And then thrown over the shoulder in the direction of an unsuspecting wedding party!
There are two cakes, a savoury traditional Ukrainian bread cake and a wedding cake made by their friend Julie
Speeches were conducted before the meal…
…another fun tradition that never gets old is that every time someone feels their wine is getting sour, they ding their glass and the newlyweds have to kiss to sweeten their wine!
After the wedding meal is when the fun begins! The band set up…
Shots are poured…
…and all the guests line up to do shots with the happy couple!
Before the evenings real dancing kicked off (and the Ukrainian’s love a dance!), the happy couple did a little dance to Christina Perri’s ‘A Thousand Years’
Then the band ‘Chorna Rosa’ started up in force and the guests got down on it!
Quick toss of the bouquet!
Then another little tradition known as the unveiling of the bride, where her veil is removed and replaced with an old Ukey headscarf, I believe, to represent the realities of the wedding, while the bridesmaids take turns to dance around wearing the veil!
It’s great to see that the traditional country dancing is still alive in the old and young, as the guys & girls try to dance off against one another with their best moves!
Some more dangerous than others!
A final bit of cabaret was to bring in a pro troupe of traditionally garbed Ukrainian dancers to throw some seriously impressive choreographed, balletic moves!
Dad was part of the routine, and the groom was thrown in to show off his skills too!
Amazing eh?! I absolutely love the traditional elements of these Ukrainian weddings, and it was great to join Stefania & Ben for their sun and fun-filled big day.
Here’s wishing them all the bread, salt and vodka they can consume, and a very happy life together and honeymoon in Florida!
All the very best kids!
x Barnaby & Hamish x