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Armenian Wedding Traditions and Cultural Norms
Armenian weddings can be quite lavish affairs, perhaps more so in North America than in the Armenian homeland. The prosperity of a few generations in the new world has accustomed many Armenian Americans and Armenian Canadians to a higher standard of living. This has permitted them the class of wedding that a century ago was reserved for European nobility.
A Joyous and Memorable Occasion
Like many other Americans, families that wish to go all out with an extravagant wedding for their son or daughter offer a testament to their social class and economic standing. Much care is taken so that guests enjoy the ethnic food and dancing on a blessed day. Common foods at Armenian wedding receptions include succulent lamb and sweet pakhlava. The goal of the bride and groom's parents is to create a joyous, memorable affair for the couple, their friends, and their family.
How to Price Your Wedding Gift
Cultural norms extend to wedding guests and the presents they bring as well. Keep in mind as a good standard of etiquette that the value of the gift you bring should preferably equal what you believe is the cost for the whole affair, divided down to the person. Although a safe standard is spending $100 or more for a present, $50 will also do if you are on a budget.
The 5 Best Armenian Wedding Gifts
If you aren't immersed in Armenian culture, you might not know what to give the bride and groom as a present on their wedding day. The best Armenian wedding gifts are those that respect wedding traditions and also your own financial comfort level. These gift suggestions are for brides and grooms that do not create wedding registries.
Although most westernized Americans are accustomed to gift registries for weddings, for many ethnic groups, cash is the most preferable gift. This is a desireable wedding gift because the bride and groom can spend the money on anything they please. In some cases, cash gifts are used to pay back credit card loans for high catering costs. You may also use a check in place of cash. This gift option is most appropriate, especially if the wedding party and guests will be close to 100% Armenian.
The cash or check is often given to the bride and groom during a dance, during a lineup, or deposited into a large box. If you are planning to give cash or a check, it is a good idea to ask the person planning the wedding if there will be a specific format for receiving the gift.
2. Gift Card
If you feel giving money seems tacky and impersonal, contributing a gift card should ease your mind. Please ensure that either the bride or groom or both likes the establishment the gift card is for. If you aren't sure, you can choose a store like Amazon that has something for almost everyone.
Gold is a very traditional, old-world gift that connects Armenians to their cultural past. It is ideally given in the form of coins or jewelry. This is also a desirable gift because, over time, gold actually builds value and provides a safety net in a down-turned economy.
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The actual value of gold coins is based on the weight rather than the denomination on the coin.
If the wedding you will be attending will be more diverse (have a high mix of non-Armenian guests), this category of gift is appropriate as well. The modern age dictates electronic devices as necessities even though they are still luxurious. Whether the bride and groom will be living in an apartment, their own house, or with parents, a flat-screen TV would prove useful in a growing household. A high-quality camera would also be appreciated for making memories on a honeymoon.
5. High-End Household Decor
Household items can be a nice gift for ethnically mixed weddings as well. If you are keen on giving a present that the couple would remember long-term and know the bride and groom will be living in their own house, you could select a decorative high-end gift for the home. A china pitcher from Tiffany & Co., a tea set from Royal Albert, or a table centerpiece from Wedgewood would do well.
This category of gift is in the western tradition, but the name brand would still indicate high value to the bride and groom.
Armenian people love to have large weddings. Although wedding presents are pricey, the enjoyment you have—especially at the reception—should make your gift well worth the expense. And your respect for tradition will be highly appreciated by your Armenian friends!
Questions & Answers
Question: Can women guests wear black to an Armenian wedding?
Answer: I think if you dress in a classic manner that black will be just fine. If you have any doubts you can ask someone in the bridal party what they think.
Question: Can female Armenian wedding guests wear slacks to the wedding?
Answer: Yes, wear what you are comfortable in. I would make the blouse or jacket a little fancy, though.
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