The secrets of Siberia’s frozen snow brides revealed

Stunning winter brides. Picture: Vera Salnitskaya
By Anna Liesowska, What do you do if you have no option but to get married in the harsh and cold Russian winters? We find out… The secrets behind keeping Siberia’s brides happy - and warm - in the midst of our harsh winter have been revealed by one of the region’s top photographers. Novosibirsk-based Vera Salnitskaya knows exactly what it takes to help women realise their dream of becoming real-life snow queens for the day. From recommending footwear and hiding thermals under dresses, to covering up reddening cold noses and lacing tea with brandy, the 30-year-old has perfected the art of making her wedding parties forget that temperatures outside might well be -37C. She tells The Siberian Times: 'Why do couples choose to marry in winter here? Well, what choice do they have in a place where winter may last for nine months? 'The first couple I ever took pictures of were called Ekaterina and Sergey. It was December and it wasn’t very cold, only about -20C perhaps, but still when the bride was taking her coat off to pose with her naked arms and shoulders I was shaking my head and hurrying her to get dressed. 'I told her, 'You’ll get cold’'but she answered back, 'Never mind that – I want to look beautiful'. 'Oh that brides’ desire to be beautiful! The thing is, the coats that are offered in wedding dress shops are made from teddy bear skin. They are pure synthetics and, frankly, I think that it would be warmer without them than in them. The coats are usually short with the neck open to every wind. And no, you can’t put an ordinary coat above the ‘princess dress’, and it is often too expensive to buy a luxurious real fur coat'.
What do you do if you have no option but to get married in harsh Siberian winter? Picture: Vera Salnitskaya
Born in a village near Novosibirsk, Vera graduated from the electromechanical faculty at Novosibirsk Technical University before starting her working life as a designer. She is now one of the Siberian city’s top photographers, working with a number of local newspapers. With long winters, many brides have no option but to get married in snowy conditions and Vera often has to give out impromptu fashion, and weather, advice to her couples. She says: 'I am always asking my brides to be take something warm with them. It doesn’t matter what it us, just as long as they can have it when we are walking from the car to the area where they’ll pose for me. 'I also ask them to wrap something around their necks. I think the person that invented the typical style of wedding coats have only seen real snow in American Christmas movies. 'On their legs you can put warm thick tights or thermals under the dress. I am very strict with my brides in saying that they can choose anything they like – as long as their legs and feet are warm. So traditional Russian Valenki or Uggs or other warm boots. 'Typically the wedding dress is long and it is more important to keep their legs warm than to get sick after posing in high heel shoes in the middle of a snow drift. 
'Oh that brides’ desire to be beautiful...!' Picture: Vera Salnitskaya
'They do usually listen to me, but sometimes that desire to be beautiful wins over common sense. I remember a bride called Natasha whose wedding was in January, when it was -30C. I spoke to her a day before the wedding day about warm shoes, and as we left the house I asked her again if she had taken the boots. 'She said 'yes' but when we come to the park she jumps out of the car in her delicate shoes and thin white tights into the snow. I’m standing with my camera, in warm valenkis, thermals, three pair of trousers above the thermals, a thick coat, gloves and a very warm hat. 'The absurdity of it is that the dress is so long the pictures don’t even show what kind of footwear the bride has on'.
'I tell them to take good hats as their ears go bright red within seconds of being outside'. Pictures: Vera Salnitskaya
Vera says she is surprised by the fact so many people in Siberia forget how cold the weather might be on their big day. 'I think often winter weddings are planned in the house, without going out and feeling what it would be like to pose barely dressed', she says. 'Of course when discussing their ideal images all couples promise that they will be ready to run around in the snow, make snowmen, go ice skating, you name it'. 'But you are lucky if you can take them for longer than ten minutes out of the car. 'They get immediately cold and start shivering, and their noses, ears and hands get bright red. And then naturally there is no point in taking pictures'.
Siberian snow brides. Pictures: Vera Salnitskaya
Surprisingly Vera says the grooms do not fare any better than their brides. 'Unlike the brides they have to wear shoes', she explains. 'I remember one wedding, of Anastasia and Anatoly, on February 15th. She is happily jumping about in her comfortable Uggs, and he is turning into an icicle in his fashionable shoes. 'He says to me, 'She is lucky, she’s got her feet warm. But I am getting frozen here'. Vera says she now has to pass on tips to the grooms just as much as the brides before they get their photographs taken, down to even giving fashion and make-up advice. She says: 'I tell them to take good hats as their ears go bright red within seconds of being outside. Also the make-up shouldn’t only be about the brides, grooms too should put some tone on their noses and ears. 'We also take tea with brandy, or tea with ginger and lemon - it helps, but not for long'. The best way to protect yourself against the freezing temperature is a beautiful skiing costume…But a rare bride would go for that'. Source: Article

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