This wedding took place in three locations- at the Hammersmith & Fulham Register Office, at a traditional Orthodox church and the reception in a Bukhara Maza restaurant. The official part took place in a small room at the registration office and the proceedings went fairly quickly. Filming at the Hammersmith & Fulham Register office could have been challenging as the camera had to be positioned in one place and it was not allowed to be moved from that position. Restrictions like this may hinder filming the best possible wedding video. Also a Register Office official had agreed to wear a small radio mic, however, on the wedding day they were not keen on wearing it. A radio mic is vital to achieve a clear sound recording.
After the official part in the Register Office, the wedding was celebrated in traditional style, more specifically Armenian customs were included. The Armenians seemed to be very friendly and readily included me and other people although there was an occasional language barrier. After taking part in the home celebration of the newlyweds, it was time to go to the church.
The church building was relatively small and dark. Various church rituals took place which unfortunately, I was not able to follow because of language differences. The church religious leader refused to wear the small radio mic for no understandable reason. Somebody who was part of the church said that they do not want to embrace the new modern way of life as the church likes the old traditional ways.. but I was wondering if this was the case then why would they use electricity, radiators and lights?
After the church, the reception was held in a restaurant. The staff was helpful and understanding. Unlike many western weddings, this wedding started with a dance when the newlyweds entered the room. Dancing seemed to be a major part of the Armenian culture. Another unusual part of this wedding was that the newlyweds gave gifts out of a basket to the singles in the hope that they would get married one day. Some guests were so desperate that they wanted the whole basket.
As the evening went by all the guests were enthusiastic to take part in the dancing, even some Brits who were initially intimidated joined in.
Another difference from western culture was that the wedding gifts were given to the bride and groom as they were sitting at their table. The guests, one by one or as groups would dance up to the newlywed's table and give them the gift. Most gifts were opened at the time.
It was a different type of experience to the usual western type wedding.
I wish all the best to Manuk and Arevik with starting their new life together.