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During the "Varteliai," Vilija and Edward are embraced as they leave the reception between two lines of the wedding guests, swaying to a waltz melody. Their guests have formed gates to impede the newlyweds so they can exchange kisses before permitting them to pass.
Katrina Thomas's notes: Perhaps one million Lithuanians now live in the U.S., the greatest number in Chicago, and have been emigrating since the 19th century. Most are Roman Catholic; some are Lutheran. The first wedding I photograph keeps the most traditions, the bride wearing national dress which was woven, embroidered, and sewn especially for her. The newlyweds enter the feast under traditional handwork, a bridge of embroidered sashes, held by their attendants. For them, special dances are performed, and there are customs welcoming the bride to housewifely duties. They share a spikey wedding cake, baked over a fire. Recalling the past in the old country, the bride may carry a symbolic flame from the hearth of her childhood home, which after her marriage she might never ever visit, to the conjugal home where she will live as a wife. The newlyweds leave their celebration through gates formed by the wedding guests, exchanging kisses as they pass.