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Receiving the sacrament of holy matrimony, John and Jackie stand under heavy gold crowns belonging to the Orthodox church. The crowns are held by the "persyj druzba," best man and the "persa druzka," maid of honor.
Katrina Thomas's notes: The homeland of Carpatho-Rusyns is located on the slope of the Carpathian Mountains where the borders of Ukraine, Slovakia and Poland meet. Never having had their own state, they have lived since the sixth century as a national minority in kingdoms whose borders frequently change. And yet they manage to keep their traditional customs, marrying under gilt crowns in the tradition of Eastern Rite Christianity, accompanied by Carpathian plainchant. I photographed two weddings observing various traditions, the highlight of both being the Rjadovyj, during which everyone dances with the bride, ending with the bride's mother placing a silk matron's cap, a cepec, on her daughter's head, while guests line-dancing shoulder to shoulder close in around the new wife, forming walls through which the bridegroom must fight his way to capture her and carry her away.