Russia’s first royal wedding since the imperial monarchy took place in the St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg on Friday Oct. 1.
Grand Duke George Mikhailovich Romanov, 40, a descendant of Russia’s former imperial family who ruled for more than 300 years, married his Italian fiancée Rebecca Bettarini, 39.
A top official from the Russian Orthodox Church conducted the ceremony, attended by hundreds of guests, including Romanov’s mother, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, who claims she is the heir to Russia’s imperial throne.
Several members of minor royal families in Europe were also present.
Romanov is the great-grandson of Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich, a cousin of Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II, who was executed along with his wife and five children by the Bolsheviks in 1918 after abdicating in 1917.
His abdication set the country on course for the Bolshevik Revolution, civil war and 70 years of communist rule.
Vladimirovich fled Russia during the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, and Romanov was mostly brought up in Spain and France.
“No member of the Romanov family ever thought we would come back here,” Romanov said in an interview prior to his wedding, the New York Times reported.
Bettarini, now named Victoria Romanovna after she converted to the Russian Orthodox faith, moved to Moscow from Brussels with Romanov, who works on a number of charity projects, according to Reuters.
As in Russian Orthodox tradition, friends and relatives of the bride and groom took turns to hold crowns above their heads during the ceremony.
Since the downfall of the Russian Empire, the Romanovs have lost their official legal standing in Russia, and they do not intend on resuming the throne, but the wedding represented their attempts to re-establish themselves in the country’s public life, according to the New York Times.