The Bulgarian Bride: Lana discusses her traditional Bulgarian wedding ceremony and why she’s the boss of the family
When you’re the most ravishing bride of all time, one wedding simply just won’t do. Weeks after tying the knot with Rusev on the beaches of Malibu, Lana jetted off to Bulgaria for a second ceremony steeped in the traditions of her husband’s homeland. Following a whirlwind, day-long Bulgarian ceremony and a honeymoon in paradise, Lana got in touch with WWE.com to talk tradition, surfing, and why, per Bulgarian custom, she’s now in charge of the family. Just don’t tell Rusev. (Photos courtesy of Cynthia Heisser-Baker/SAGA Consulting)
WWE.COM: Congratulations again on the second wedding.
LANA: Thank you!
WWE.COM: First off, as anyone who saw your tweets can attest, you had an amazing dress. Can you tell us who designed it?
LANA: The Russian designer Olia Zavozina made everything — Rusev’s suit, the bridesmaid dresses, and my wedding gown. The lace cost over $15,000 alone and was imported from Russia and France. The dress cost over six figures and the veil was longer than the train.
WWE.COM: For those who don’t know, what is the difference between this ceremony and the one you had at Malibu?
LANA: It was completely different. Specifically starting with the ceremony alone, the Malibu ceremony was on the beach. My dad, who is also a minister, led the ceremony, but it was not a traditional ceremony versus the Bulgarian one, which was in an Orthodox church and everything was very traditional. I also learned very quickly that Rusev doesn’t know all his traditions; it’s really his mother that knows all the traditions. So I quickly had to learn them if we wanted to carry them on. [Laughs]
WWE.COM: What are some of those traditions that you had to learn?
LANA: It’s tradition after tradition after tradition. It literally starts with Rusev going somewhere with his family singing in the streets. Next thing, they pick me up at my apartment, which was technically his apartment at the time, and there’s a whole orchestra with him. The whole city. Half his relatives are there, some of my relatives, drums, accordions, a bagpipe, singers. It was a crazy amount of people. They’re singing in the corridor of the apartment and then they start banging on the door trying to “buy” me, my sister and my bridesmaids. They’re called the negotiators, so they’re negotiating the amount and kept on going back and forth.
Eventually, they break through the door. I hid my shoe, which is another Bulgarian tradition, and he has to find my shoe. There’s 50, 60 people in this three-bedroom apartment. You can’t even move and there’s all this music. He finds my shoe and keeps on putting money in the shoe until it fits me. Then we all go outside and start dancing in the streets. In the Bulgarian culture, everyone can participate in the wedding. Literally, the whole neighborhood is out in the street taking pictures and joining in the dance. Rusev led the dance actually, with the Bulgarian flag. I didn’t know he could dance so well.
Then we get to the church — lots of Orthodox traditions. I had to wear the train and cover my shoulders in the church. I don’t fully understand everything because Russia and Bulgaria are kind of different. We get to the reception and it starts with the one who drinks the wine the quickest. Whoever drinks the wine the quickest is the boss of the home.
WWE.COM: Who won?
LANA: I won. And then, there’s a big loaf of bread you have to break. Whoever has the biggest piece of the bread is also the boss of the home. I won it by leaps and bounds. There’s dancing, lots of dancing. It started around 1 p.m. and we finished around 8 a.m. the next morning. The Bulgarians apparently consider me a Bulgarian now because I led the Bulgarian traditional dance.
WWE.COM: What was your favorite part?
LANA: Beating Rusev both times in drinking the wine the fastest and breaking the bread. That makes me the leader, per the Bulgarian family traditions. We are both very competitive so that was probably my favorite part, knowing I’m in charge. But I’ll let Rusev think he is in charge. [Laughs]
WWE.COM: What was it like to go back to Rusev’s old hometown and see where he came from?
LANA: A big part of what Naomi and Jimmy Uso said was that they didn’t realize how he came from nothing. What people think of in America as “nothing” is nothing compared to a third-world country. There’s no welfare, no community services for less privileged children, no scholarships or financial aid or anything. They really saw that Rusev had a dream and he followed his dream to America to become a WWE Superstar and how he is truly a self-made man.
WWE.COM: Will we get to see any of this on “Total Divas”?
LANA: Yes! Naomi and Natalya were my bridesmaids. I was really excited to have them there and you actually see how Natalya has been such a big mentor to me. You’ll see throughout the entire season how she helps me plan my wedding. I’m so glad she was there in Bulgaria, because some of the traditions were hard for me to accept and go through, but she helped me [learn] to let things go and not worry. That was really cool for me, because I’ve become really close friends with them. I’m really glad they got to be there and witness all these crazy Bulgarian traditions. I’m really excited for the WWE Universe to see it. Rusev is such a special person and his traditions are so special.
WWE.COM: You said you’re a very modern couple in the last interview you did with us, but you made it an effort to have this traditional wedding nonetheless. How important are these traditions to you despite the fact that you are this very modern couple?
LANA: I personally believe in making your own tradition, but relationships are all about compromise. Tradition is very important to Rusev, which is why we had two weddings. It’s more important to look at things from a relationship standpoint, so if it’s important to him, we have to meet in the middle.
WWE.COM: You had a honeymoon in Seychelles and Dubai. How was that?
LANA: It was fantastic! I had never gone surfing and I was able to go for the first time. Rusev didn’t, but I’m sure I’ll convince him to do that and I’m sure it will be his new favorite thing to do.
WWE.COM: How did you do with surfing?
LANA: I was good! They were really impressed. I’m a really good swimmer; I was saving lives at 5 years old, literally, I would jump into the pool and save them. I had to save Rusev a couple of times, but now he’s apparently an experienced swimmer because I taught him to float on his back. [Laughs] But the teacher said I was picking up really quickly, so I’m going to become a professional surfer and hit the big waves. It’s going to take some time though. [Laughs]
WWE.COM: Now that you guys have been married twice, do you feel like you can begin your life as a married couple? Or are there more weddings coming up?
LANA: We’ve had enough weddings for now. Maybe in five to 10 years we’ll have a renewal of our vows.