A wedding in Sofia – V&V

Venue: Sofia centre and Vitosha

Lens: Nikkor 85 mm f/1.8

Music: Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUSzL2leaFM)

This photo-post is not exactly matching any of my previous categories, but no photographer portfolio is complete without some wedding photos, right? I was a guest at a wedding of family friends, so my role was mainly to have fun and celebrate their love, but I also took some time taking some amateur photos in the few moments when the crowd of officially appointed photographers was not completely covering the view to the bride and groom. So here are some chronologically ordered photos, telling also the story of the modern Bulgarian wedding traditions.

The guests waiting for the bride and the groom in front of the municipal building where the official marriage took place.
Here they are, ready for the ceremony to take place – it literally took 5 minutes, they signed a paper and it was over.
After the signing we could congratulate the happy couple and the families and take some candy from the bridesmaids.
Some of the congratulating cards were super fancy, coming with a smartphone app and a small funny cartoon with a bride and groom.
Not unexpectedly there were dozens of people taking photos with all kinds of cameras from professional to good amateur to smartphone ones.
The next part was the marriage “before God” in one of the central churches in Sofia – St. Sofia, one of the oldest and most beautiful churches that actually gave the name to the city that grew around it.
The orthodox marriage ceremony takes quite a while with plenty of things from the bible that they cite in a hardly understandable medieval Bulgarian and Slavic.
Part of the ceremony requires the bride and the groom to wear crowns that they interchange at some point.
And there were plenty of priests around with different looking clothes, so it was hard to understand who is the main boss around.
At the end of the ceremony they had to go around the table several times, and then were officially proclaimed husband and wife before God.
After the marriage it was time for the next event – baptism, in the shiny vessel in front of the old lady.
Love is all around, even in the puddles of water outside the church.
Time for the actual wedding – the party! It took place in a restaurant up in Vitosha mountain and as usual started with some traditional Bulgarian music and dances – the “horo” is the typical round dance where people dance around hand in hand.
The bridal bouquet, which she will throw to someone later on..
But first some more Bulgarian traditions – the best man is supposed to get to the centre of the room in a dancing style and there are the defenders that are on the brides’ side that try to push him away, and eventually accept some bribes to let him pass.
The next tradition is breaking the “banitsa” – a salty pastry with cheese and eggs, that the bride and groom have to try breaking, fighting for the bigger part.
And the bride gets the bigger part, meaning that she’ll be in charge of bringing money in the house. Not sure if that’s a good thing, but she does look happy about it.
The typical wedding photos with friends and family and the bride and the groom in the centre, the official wedding photographer had to make hundreds (if not thousands) of these.
The younger generation also dancing horo in style.
But the older generation was leading the way, while listening to the live band that was one of the surprise presents at the wedding. They were really really good.
Time for less typical, but still old-school music, dancing on some classic rock songs of Whitesnake, Foreigner and AC/DC.
Moving on to the next big event – throwing the bridal bouquet, a way to figure out who will be the next girl to get married. So you can clearly see some excitement radiating away from the single lining up.
And the winner is…
And the party goes on! Sometimes the photographer is the most interesting one to capture on the photo.
Yeah, I bet you can’t guess what is going on here! The groom is trying to take the stocking of the bride, to use it as the male analog of the bridal bouquet in choosing the next groom. But they did put on quite a show first.
As the night went on the view from the terrace to the city below got more and more beautiful and people apparently started forgetting their drinks outside.
Unfortunately I had only taken my 85mm zoom lens that is not good for panoramic photos, but it was still worth taking a photo of Sofia, even if I only managed to squeeze in the central bits of the city here – my home is somewhere on the left side. Incidentally there was a football game that evening so you can even see the stadium on the far right well lit. The home team of Levski Sofia won.
In the meantime the party inside was still going on – and there’s no better end of the wedding night than seeing the younger people taking over.

66 thoughts on “A wedding in Sofia – V&V

  1. What a lovely couple! Also interesting to find out about wedding customs in another country. Thanks for your recent(ish) visit to The Glasgow Gallivanter – apologies for the delay in returning the visit, I’ve been away.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Such lovely pics, especially the ones of people caught unawares. I wish I had been wearing a crown when I got married…. maybe then I would have been treated like a queen…. instead of getting a divorce šŸ˜› My favourite is the drinks on the balustrade overlooking the lights. Just beauiful

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Quite an interesting “reportage”. A Bulgarian wedding is not so different from any wedding in the West. In Mexico the band would have been “Mariachis”. šŸ™‚ I like the detail about the crowns. Didn’t know the city name came from the church/cathedral. Does “Sofia” mean wisdom in Bulgarian as it does in Greek? Take care

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the nice words! Sofia has no actual meaning in Bulgarian, just the name of the saint and then the church and the city…but of course people know the original meaning from Greek, it’s a nice one šŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Amazing shots !! , loved each moment , there is something about candid shots , taken in between here and there at a wedding function – that makes you like you were there , I honestly like these kinda shots , that gives you a sense of being among the crowd – I never been to wedding like this one – thanks for sharing šŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I loved this post! I am thinking of visiting Bulgaria next year and wanted an inside glimpse. I’m a sucker for weddings, so this drew me in right away. You captured all the festivity and joy. I felt like I was a witness to the night’s events. My favorite picture is the first one in which the young couple is wearing the crowns. That’s the kind of stuff visitor’s just don’t get to see unless they’re lucky.
    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the positive feedback! I’m pretty sure you’ll easily get to see the ceremony with the crowns if you wait for some time in any church in central Sofia on a Saturday or a Sunday..maybe they should include that in travel guides haha šŸ™‚


    1. The first ceremony is to sign the official contract for the state, the second one has no legal meaning and is the traditional Christian wedding in the church, when the couple is religious or likes to follow the tradition šŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ahhh, thanks for explaining!
        In some cultures the signing of the contract happens at the church after the official ceremony. ā˜ŗ

        Your pictures were lovely.

        Liked by 2 people

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