Olga and Paul Woronoff on their honeymoon

Searching for Information

This photo shows my maternal grandparents, Paul and Olga Woronoff on their honeymoon in 1914. Before her marriage, my grandmother was Countess Olga Kleinmichel.

All I know about how they met, their wedding and honeymoon I have learnt from the book my grandmother wrote, entitled ‘Upheaval’. However, she was not big on detail. For example, she only writes a couple of sentences about meeting my grandfather:

“Soon, at a dance at the Princess Bariatinsky’s, I was presented to the Emperor and to two of the young Grand Duchesses, Olga and Tatiana. At this party I also met my future husband, Paul Woronoff, who was then an officer on Their Majesties’ yacht, Standard.”

That was all she wrote. I am left with so many questions! Which Princess Bariatinsky? Which dance? When and where was it held? How did my grandparents meet? Did someone introduce them to each other or did their eyes lock across a crowded room and it was love at first sight?

I believe my grandparents got engaged in 1913, although I cannot confirm this. They married in February 1914 at the Fedorovsky Cathedral in Tsarskoye Selo. Their wedding was attended by Tsar Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra, their four daughters: Olga, Tatiana, Marie and Anastasia, and the young heir Alexis. The Empress Alexandra stood in for my grandfather’s mother. As my grandmother explains it:

“An old Russian custom decrees that a bride and bridegroom shall each have two friends, a man and a woman, representing their parents, to give them the blessing before the marriage and to assist at their wedding. These pseudo parents had to be selected among persons not closely related to each other and could not be a husband and wife. Both the Tsar and the Empress expressed their desire to give my fiancé the blessing – but added smilingly that since husband and wife both were not allowed to give it he would have to chose between them. This was certainly very embarrassing and Paul answered that he wished he could have both Their Majesties to bless him; but, since he could not, he would ask Her Majesty the Empress to act as his ‘Mother’.”

My grandmother goes on to describe the wedding. She explains that both my grandfather and Tsar Nicholas were dressed in the uniform of the Navy Guards, to which my grandfather belonged. But she does not describe what she was wearing. She details the service, especially the religious parts, but does not tell us who the guests were. As far as I know, there are no photographs of their wedding. My grandparents had to leave or destroy all their papers and photographs when they escaped from Russia during the Revolution.

So again, I have questions. What sort of dress did my grandmother wear? Who were the guests at their wedding?

Directly after their reception, if one can call it that, my grandparents left on their honeymoon. But where did they go? My grandmother only writes they “left for a trip abroad”.

I hope to write in more detail about my grandparent’s life so I will continue to search for the answers to the questions above and many more. Perhaps somewhere in the world I will find the answers.

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This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Merise

    Wow Sandy, so exciting and so daunting, good luck with your research, I
    would love to know the story too. 🍀

  2. Nick

    Alexandra, the Baryatinsky ball
    was held in the Crimea on 10
    November 1913. Grand Duchess
    Tatiana wrote about it in her diary,
    and I wrote an extensive note on
    Princess Maria Vladimirovna
    Baryatinsky (1851-1937) for our
    book, “Tatiana Romanov: Daughter
    of the Last Tsar” (Westholme
    Press: 2016)

    Posted text on FB in the “In the
    Steps of the Romanovs” Group

    1. Alex

      Thank you Nick. I’ll have a look at your comments on FB!

  3. Vilma Santiago-Irizarry

    How can one get a copy of your mother’s book? I just made a very summary search through rare
    books websites and can’t seem to find it. I’d love to see it, if it’s actually been published for a
    general audience (i.e., not privately).

    1. Alex

      Vilma the last time I looked there were a couple of copies for sale on Ebay, very expensive though. You can find the book online – someone has put it there. I can’t remember the website, sorry!

  4. Vilma Santiago-Irizarry

    How can one get a copy of your mother’s book? I just made a very summary search through rare
    books websites and can’t seem to find it. I’d love to see it, if it’s actually been published for a
    general audience (i.e., not privately).

  5. Allison

    This is all amazing Sandy!

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