The Azerbaijani girls and the dream wedding

Marriageable Tat girl in traditional dress. Lahij, Azerbaijan

First published in the blog of the author.
Apparently, Azerbaijani girls are increasingly looking for foreign husbands in order to leave the country. The reasons are varied, including the desire for wealth and the Western way of life, as well as a general lack of men, who emigrate in large numbers, and also to create a better future for themselves. Traditions have always set tight constraints on Azerbaijani women, forbidding them to marry men of other nationalities. Fortunately, the newer generation is held back much less by the rules, and the number of marriages between foreign men and Azerbaijani women – which are allowed to be concluded only in the Palace of Happiness of Baku, the “Mukhtarov” – is slowly rising.

Flower girls in Baku

Around the countryside, especially in the most isolated villages, however, we have the impression that the number of men is much higher than that of women. And that weddings must be one of the more profitable businesses, if the shops offering accessories for the most beautiful day come one after another in such large numbers.

When speaking of weddings, do not think of something that cries out for a wedding planner, as in the West. Weddings here are home-made affairs, and the bride, like Cinderella, switches from the broom to the prom dress in an instant. The predominant color is red, and a minimalist style has no chance here. This color triumphantly marches through the dresses, the decorations, the centre-pieces. All is tulle and sequins, not always of the best quality, but enough to dazzle the eye. The couples are usually very young, between fifteen and twenty. The ceremony takes place in two stages. The bride’s farewell is mostly low-key, and the real show is for the groom, which flows into the wedding proper, with long tables, merrymaking, drinking, music and dance.

A community hall with no unnecessary luxury is rented out for the occasion. At the end of the celebration, the whole village gathers together, and their gaze follows the car of the young couple until it disappears around the bend of the valley.

Xinaliq. After the bride leaves the village

Xinaliq, ballroom

In the ballroom there remain only a few melancholic guests, as well as the confetti-strewn floor. This the bride herself will clean up when she comes back to the village and doffs her festive outfit, again becoming Cinderella. As foretold by the showcase of the wedding accessories shop, where someone, with good intuition, has left a bucket and a broom alongside the lavish garments.