Lithuanian Wedding

Lithuania is a small country in the northeast of Europe. About a week before the wedding a bride has a hen party or "mergvakaris" like it is known in Lithuania. A groom on the other side organizes a stag party or "bernvakaris".

There is a lovely tradition held at the hen party. A bride makes a wreath of rue ("ruta"). Rue (ruta graveolens) is a national plant of Lithuania. It is a symbol of virginity, purity and premarital life worn at traditional Lithuanian weddings.

Civil wedding ceremony is held in the Town Hall while that religious one is held in the church. Most Lithuanians are Roman Catholics. After the ceremony it is time to take numerous Image(s). According to a local tradition a special place for taking wedding Image(s) is a bridge. A groom often carries his bride across the bride. Together they put a lock on the bridge and throw the key into the river. Previously they wrote their names on the lock.


After this kind of ritual they go to the wedding reception. Their parents and other guests wait for them there. Both parents welcome the newlyweds with some bread, salt and two glasses of water. They symbolize the foundation of their life together.

The bride and groom are given some work to do. For example, sometimes they are sawing a log. There they show how well they function together. Everything is done under supervision of a matchmaker or a best man.

The bride and groom will not be able to take a seat. Their chairs are already occupied by another couple. Luckily it is not the real couple. A man is dressed as a bride. The groom is actually a woman.

The problem will be solved by the matchmaker. There is a piece of cloth on his shoulder. On this cloth you can read the following text "the best man - the best liar". A funny dialogue is started. The matchmaker must "win" the chairs where the newlyweds should sit back. After some time he succeeds and the wedding reception can begin.


The already mentioned matchmaker is a very important guy who actually manages the whole party. In one tradition he even teaches the groom how to kiss the bride.

An important part of the wedding reception starts after midnight. All the guests sing traditional wedding song "We wish you happy long years". During this song parents give a special decorated candle to the couple. The wreath of ruta is then removed from the bride's veil. The wreath is then burned.

The bride takes off her veil and gives it to the bridesmaid. The bride then puts a white scarf on her head. The groom takes of a flower that was attached to his suit and gives it to the groomsman. From that moment the groom has a cap on his head. The bride and groom then jointly cut the wedding cake.


Lithuanian traditional wedding cake is called Šakotis or Raguolis. It is not certain who exactly first made this cake. There are two opinions. One claims that Šakotis was first made by the Queen Bona Sforza (1494-1557). There is also an opinion according to which the "inventors" of this cake of unusual shape are the Baltic people called Yotvingians. Apart from weddings Šakotis is also served at Christmas. Lithuania is not the only country where the cake is popular. The Poles love it too.


Traditional Lithuanian Wedding

Ruta graveolens


Bona Sforza

Barbara Rolis, How a Lithuanian Tree Cake Is made - Raguolis or


Lithuanian wedding reception (photo by agnyte1, flickr)

Lithuanian Catholic wedding ceremony (photo by da_vecchi,

Bride and groom are sawing the log (photo by Petras Gagilas,