Marriage in Azerbaijan- tradition, values and ceremonies

By Lala Jumayeva

To meet an interesting, nice, smart, polite and a handsome guy, to fall in love with him, accept his marriage proposal and wear a beautiful white dress is each girl’s dream. However, things are not exactly the same if you live in a country like Azerbaijan.

Firstly, there is marriage age rule. If you do not have a fiancé and do not get married till a certain age, you become the target for your family and relatives who will ask you every time they see you, whether you have got married or not. As if they would not know if you did so. Everyone around you, with the exception of your close friends, will rush you to find someone “suitable” and get married soon. As if all those “suitable candidates” are waiting for you.

Then there is the dating syndrome. Most families get impatient because of the dating process. Assuming that before it was even worse, i.e. it was rare when couples could go for walks, hold hands, go to cafes, cinema, and etc., today such things are becoming normal. However, the girl’s family, would still have a curfew, and ask to behave as a true real lady. This lasts until engagement, when though still limitedly you can enjoy going out to dates with your fiancé. And engagement too preferably should be short. Many people prefer not to prolong the engagement period for more than a couple of months and start arranging the wedding.

In Azerbaijan, most families help their children to arrange their wedding, help financially to get an apartment, furniture and what not. Also, it is a custom for the groom’s family to bring jewelry to the bride and get presents for her before the actual wedding. Perhaps, it is this help that makes young couples marry in their early to mid twenties, which is a usual age for the Azerbaijani youth to get married.

The real story begins once the couple is married. It is then, that the couple should struggle for their independence since both families will, most probably, interfere with their lives. Most of the help comes in the form of different kinds of advice and it is common for families to get offended when advice is not taken into account. Almost immediately after the marriage ceremony, everyone is keen to learn whether there is a baby on its way. This usually continues until the couple finally breaks the news.

This is simply how the marriage and family life is in Azerbaijan. For sure, I cannot say that every single couple shares this experience but most of them do and this is how we have seen it for the whole of our lives. Here, it is called “tradition” :)

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