An Armenian engagement ceremony is almost like a wedding in itself. There is a grand party, usually in a banquet hall, where a priest blesses the engagement ring and asks the bride and groom to vow to be faithful to one another and marry in the future. Eating, drinking, and dancing, of course, ensue. But here's a brief history about where this sort of engagement comes from!
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Armenians are a very religious culture; the Armenian Apostolic Church is the prevalent religious institution of Armenia, and for most Armenians living abroad. The traditional engagement ceremony customs of the Armenian Apostolic Church were purely religious. The priest would first council the bride and groom in the ways of marriage and family, a custom that many churches still practice. Upon deeming that the couple was ready to take the step toward marriage, the priest would perform the engagement ceremony.
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During the ceremony, which usually took place in either the bride’s home or the church, a ring, a bracelet, a pair of earrings, a red dress, and a veil would be put on a tray in front of the groom to present to his bride. Each item symbolized a vow that the bride would take:
The ring on the left ring finger, which has a vein that connects directly to the heart, symbolized that she would love her future husband with all her heart.
The bracelet on the wrist indicated that she would be faithfully tied to her husband.
The earrings were a vow that the bride would always listen to her husband.
The red dress and veil were a promise that the girl would become a true bride to the man to whom she was engaged.
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Modern custom has done away with this tradition. Today, man and woman alike must vow to love and be faithful to one another in order for the church to recognize the engagement. Regardless, for Orthodox Armenians, the blessing of the priest is essential to the betrothal and the commencement of wedding plans.
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