As winter fades with the new arrival of spring, we once again approach the prime wedding season in Ukraine. With so much planning and preparation required, chances are if you haven't already made arrangements for your wedding party then you may have to compromise for much less than what you had originally wanted.
The best photographers and videographers are already booked months, sometimes years in advance. What about restaurants resort halls and hotels? Were you wanting live music for your wedding? You better make reservations soon or your only source of music will be your drunken uncle MC singing cover tunes until 2am!
Of course, Ukrainian families are experts in the planning and engineering of wedding events. This comes natural. But, what about an international wedding? What is the best way to plan wedding arrangements with a foreigner?
Planning a Ukrainian wedding budget
Planning a budget for an international wedding in Ukraine can be difficult. Every foreigner will have their own unique preferences and cultural influences so there is often some disagreements in blending expectations and planning effectively. However, for you foreigners who are about to be married in Ukraine I suggest you take this simple advice. Simply let your fiancé(e) and her family make the arrangements and get ready for some serious fun with your wedding party - Ukrainian style!
My husband James was born and raised in the Chicagoland area which has a large Ukrainian /Polish community, so his Slavic roots and enthusiasm made it easy for us all to put together the type of wedding events that both we and all our family members could enjoy. You see, we made the decision to have our wedding party in a small town near my home village in Western Ukraine, where all of my relatives, many of them being older, could easily travel to and attend. It worked out great! We settled on inviting 100 guests and we had family and friends attending from all different regions of Ukraine.
Today, we decided to share some information that we hope our readers might find useful. I kept accurate record of all the expenses from all the arrangements that my husband and I, along with our family made for our wedding. This will help foreigners to develop an understanding of the true costs of certain party goods and services in Ukraine.
Everyone's budget is unique. There will no doubt be some Americans or Westerners that view our arrangements as modest and they would be correct - according to western standards. Although many Ukrainians would likely view our wedding budget as rich and abundant. And it was!
We like to think that we found the perfect balance point for the perfect international wedding in Ukraine. But you shouldn't allow limited finances to discourage your plans for getting married in Ukraine. There are so many important elements to a succesful international marriage, so you shouldn't be over concerned about a storybook wedding. Believe me when I say that Ukrainians are experts in making memorable celebrations from limited resources.
Now for the numbers, with descriptions to follow...
Cost of Ukrainian wedding party
Wedding Date: May, 2011
Guest count: 100 (not including the 30+ locals that crashed the party!)
Prices: US dollars
Wedding Theme: Traditional Ukrainian with a slight modern touch
American and Ukrainian flags with traditional embroidery everywhere!
Wedding invitations $70
Church services/Priest $100
Our wedding was scheduled for the first week of May. All invitations were sent out 3 months in advance. Our church ceremony was held in my home village which has a small population of less than 200. The village location makes for difficult travel since there is only one, very rough road going in and out. Having all of our friends and family together for the event made for such wonderful experience. Unfortunately, we experienced 3 straight days of cold rain, just before our wedding date. But on the day of our wedding, the skies cleared, bringing the most magnificent display of spring colors. I thank God for the wonderful blessings on that day.
We were fortunate to have some very talented professionals to make our wedding day special. The musicians followed us the entire day with wonderful Ukrainian folk tunes. They kept the mood festive all the way from my home in the village during the Buyout the Bride ceremony, to the march to the village church and to the reception. The photographer and videographer preserved these special moments.
- 2 limousines 4 hours $400
- bus $90
Our wedding reception was held in a modest restaurant about 8 km distance from our village church. The restaurant is quite nice for being in a small town, but of course we needed to provide some form of transportation to help people get around. James had arranged for two limousines for us, the bridesmaids, the best men and our inner circle of friends. We also rented a marshrutka to help transport other friends and family, so they could begin to party without having to drive.
- decoration $375
- bouquet, boutonniere $40
The flowers looked great, even though they were delivered from over 80 km away. Still, we should have ordered more. My advice - order twice the amount you think you might want, if your budget allows.
- registry book $20
- candles $120
- flags $40
- mini flags $20
- wedding favors $50
- balloons $10
The international wedding theme made for some great excitement and it also brought much attention to the party. There were different size UA and USA flags along with some nice decorations throughout the restaurant. It wasn't formal, but incredibly festive!
Home kitchen food $1000
- Fresh Fruits and vegetables
There were a variety of well prepared food dishes supplied by the restaurant staff, but the main menu was supplied by our inner family members. We had a whole smokehouse full of meats prepared the week before the wedding. There was also an incredible abundance of tasty fish, fresh from the river off our family property and gorgeous fresh breads, fruits and vegetables everywhere.
Homemade Korovai $80
Cake includes delivery $125
Knife set for cake $40
Traditionally, both families of bride and groom make Korovais. Those two korovais are made by women of the families and special traditions are followed while making the Korovai. All godparents bring Korovai to the wedding, and even aunts and uncles and other close family members brought smaller versions of Korovais, which are called Kalach. We received so many Korovais for our wedding, we didn't know where to put them. The rule of thumb here is that you can never have too much Korovai! James also ordered a gorgeous western-style three-tier wedding cake that somehow made the 80 km trip to town undamaged. We also special ordered a custom engraved knife set for cutting the wedding cake.
There was plenty of coffee, tea and sweets for the guests to enjoy at their convenience.
Champagne 40 bottles $200
Champagne Glasses for head table $50
Champagne glasses plastic 100 ct $80
Vodka 50 bottles $125
Soft drinks 80 2 liter bottles $80
Bottled Water 80 2 liter bottles $70
Birch juice 35 3 liter jars $90
What more can I say, as there is no such thing as too many drinks at a Ukrainian wedding. Champagne and Vodka... even Samohonka? That'll keep the party going!
Chocolate fountain 100 servings $100
Fruits for fountain $40
Nothing spectacular, but the young people really enjoyed it.
Well, at first the awesome live music attracted some wedding crashers from in town. Many friends that I haven't seen in years showed up to see what was going on. I was very happy to see them. However, after the impressive fireworks show, we soon found our "new guest" count growing beyond control. Oh what a night!
Remember, you don't have to spend a fortune to have a nice wedding. Although money helps, it's the people that make the party great. The above list seems complete for the most part. If you have any ideas to add feel free to post them in the comments section below.