Olivier Burnside Wedding PhotographyNow that things are a little quieter, I have some time to work on some more lengthy blog posts.

Ruta & Stephen’s wedding in Vilnius is pretty epic and kicked off with Ruta’s bridal preparations at the Kempinski Hotel.

The views from Ruta’s window of the city’s main square below were breath-taking.  For all this elegance, though, Ruta is a Rock ‘n Roll bride at heart and brought a little of that to the grandest hotel in the heart of Vilnius.  On the subject of Rock ‘n Roll, I learned the day before the wedding that a number of the guests invited to the wedding had been conflicted as there was another big draw in town that Saturday night.  Depeche Mode were in town.  They were one of my bands growing up, so I can relate!  While their UK popularity probably hasn’t ever touched the heady heights of the 80s, they’ve apparently remained massively popular in Lithuania.  Such was the level of interest that people even knew that the band were staying at the Hilton.  Or so they thought.  As it turned out, Ruta shared a lift with one of them in the Kempinski and Dave Gahan was hanging out in the lobby as we left too!

Where we in UK have a Best Man, in Lithuania they have a Best Couple.  Inga, who was one half of Ruta & Stephen’s Best Couple, kept Ruta company all morning with her sister Egle and mum.  In another departure from UK tradition, a dapper Stephen met Ruta not at the altar, but at the door to the spectacular Baroque church which was only 5 minutes walk from the hotel.

When I met Ruta & Stephen the evening before the wedding, we were able to manage a walk to the glorious Baroque church where they were to marry the following day.  Although we weren’t able to do more than peek through the gates, it didn’t take a huge leap of imagination to realise that it would be just as impressed inside.  And so it proved.

While it’s great to experience different wedding traditions abroad, there’s still something reassuring about leaving the church to find an army of confetti-wielding guests waiting for the happy couple to emerge.  The church is within the grounds of Vilnius’ University.  It ensured that the drinks reception took place in fine surroundings.

As many of the guests had come from UK to attend the wedding, a tour bus was arranged to show them around the city after the drinks reception.  This allowed Ruta, Stephen and some of the more local guests a little time to unwind in a hostellerie just off the main square, before walking along the river and back to the reception.  Along the way, we stopped at a few choice spots for some photos and were even joined by the occasional passer-by!

I don’t know whether it’s unique to Lithuania, but having arrived back at the wedding reception they had organised, Ruta and Stephen were tasked with convincing four imposters (who were in fact close friends) that they were the ones who had just got married.  Following a successful negotiation seemingly based on alcoholic brides, the party was on once again!

After dinner, the party reassembled inside for speeches.  There were one or two more than is usual here, but still an opportunity for a slideshow of humiliation by brother and best man Kevin.  The night was far from done.  The wedding hosts encouraged the guests onto the floor with a series of dances and games.  Unbeknown to Ruta and Stephen, one of Ruta’s relatives had also prepared a show of dance – pretty impressive stuff.  I spent a bit more time on the dancefloor before crossing Vilnius back to my hotel.  Tired, but happy to have been able to cover a fantastic day.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the post as much as I enjoyed the wedding!

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