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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Following Cupid Right to the Wedding Palace

Desperately in love? Want to make a lifetime pledge to one another here and now? Well, a Moscow wedding could be the solution.

Scenes of happy couples laying flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier or, even more inexplicably, at Lenin's mausoleum are often all foreigners see of Russian weddings.

The more experienced may also have witnessed newlyweds kissing recklessly in response to their wedding guests' chants of "Gorko! Gorko!" which literally means the drinks taste sour — and if the bride and groom kiss long enough, they will surely turn sweet again.

But even those uninitiated to local customs will appreciate what a dramatic backdrop Red Square would make for a glass of champagne in your wedding finery. Indeed, a little effort put into planning and complying with Russia's not terribly tough legal regulations can result in an unforgettable event that rivals many of the world's most sought-after wedding locations.

To throw in a few examples, you could rent a riverboat for as little as $100 to $200 an hour and take advantage of the Moscow River's spectacular views of the city center. Food and drinks would have to be catered, but the unusual setting is certainly worth the extra effort. For an even more extravagant event, you could rent costumes from Russia's largest movie production studio, Mosfilm, and outfit your guests to relive practically any historical period.

The truth is, a Moscow wedding doesn't have to be a brief ceremony at the State Registry Office, or ZAGS, followed by a bowl of Russian salad. It can, in fact, be a lot of sophisticated fun.

However, before the happy day, there are few formalities to take care of. Details vary for citizens of different countries, but the general requirements are the same: Non-Russian applicants need a valid visa, a valid registration and a notarized certificate of unmarried status. ZAGS officials can tell you exactly which documents are required. Additionally, foreign embassies are usually aware of the procedures.

All documents including passports need to be translated into Russian and the translations need to be notarized.

Foreign and mixed couples can only register their marriages at the ZAGS office called Wedding Palace No. 4. Although the Soviet building on dusty multilaned Butyrskaya Ulitsa isn't exactly the most romantic location, with a humorous approach, the event can be turned into a fun episode.

Don't expect to be able to choose your day at ZAGS. Waiting time between application and actual registration is one month according to Russian law. But depending on how booked ZAGS is, you may have to wait longer.

Registering your wedding will cost the equivalent of one month's minimum wage — 132 rubles (about $5) — plus a few minor additional charges.

For those who want a more traditional ceremony, the key wedding event could be a religious service. Take into account that churches do not have the legal power to wed people, and a visit to the wedding palace is still necessary.

For a Russian Orthodox wedding, either the bride or groom must be an Orthodox Christian. If the other half doesn't wish to convert, you'll need permission from the patriarch's marriages and divorces department. To submit a request, the couple must have a ZAGS marriage certificate. The waiting time to get permission can be a few weeks.

Prices can depend on the church, some even have pricelists. A few hundred rubles to a thousand is more or less what's expected to be paid to the priest. For any additional people involved, like choir members, expect to give a couple hundred rubles to each.

After all the paperwork is completed, the couple can head for a full-scale ceremony that includes crowning and a magnificent Russian Orthodox choir.

Planning the wedding reception can be a bit tricky because few places take early reservations. It's probably wisest to start negotiations with a restaurant four to six weeks before the reception. Shopping around is best done in person as most places do not have fixed rates.

Many restaurants allow parties to bring their own alcohol, which on top of saving you money, may tremendously improve the quality of the wine. But, not matter how good the year, the wine is bound to turn sour — so expect a lot of kissing.