Tuesday 6 November 2012

Surviving a Polish wedding

Monia, I hope you don't mind ;)

If you've been invited to a Polish wedding and start wondering what to expect - this post if for you. Read carefully as this is quite a complicated subject.

1. 3 days and 2 nights (sometimes 3, if you're lucky)

A typical Polish wedding lasts from Saturday afternoon to Sunday evening but depending on a region, it can take much longer. In some places the party starts on Friday evening, when the guests go to the bride's house and break glass. This is not a metaphor. You really need to bring old plates, jars and anything that can be broken. You call out the bride (and the groom, if he's there) and once she's out, you throw the glass onto the pavement to break. The bride needs to swipe the glass with a broom, her mother brings out the snacks and, of course, vodka, which is poured into small shot glasses for everyone.
The older generations know songs, which are sometimes sang at occasions like that.
The more glass the bride manages to swipe, the more luck she's gonna have in the future. If the groom's there, he helps her out and if they work well together, they will be happy forever.

Some dancing and drinking while the bride swipes the glass 

The wedding ceremony takes place in a local church, in a late afternoon on a Saturday, after which you all go to the wedding party. Depending on the bride and groom's budget and the number of guests, the wedding is in a restaurant, hotel or something called 'a wedding house'. The party there lasts until early hours of Sunday morning.

After few hours of sleep the party starts all over again, until either late afternoon on Sunday, or late at night.

2. Vodka

As you might expect, the unavoidable part of every Polish wedding is vodka. The first toast is usually during the dinner, after the ceremony and then it just goes and goes, and goes...
If you want to keep up, eat a lot of fatty food. The best way is to drink your shot, drink some juice and then eat a little bit of ham, a pickle or something similar. You don't need to drink the whole shot. When everyone drinks one at a time, you just drink half of yours.

Nowadays, people understand that someone doesn't like vodka and provide guests with other type of liquor e.g. wine, or whiskey.

3. Food and drinks

Here is the good part: everything that's on your table is for free. Polish people say that a wedding is good only if there is more than enough food and drinks to last for two days.
Usually, straight after the ceremony, there is a 3 or 4 course meal and then the snacks come: plates of fish, meat, cheeses - if one is finished, another one follows. In the middle of the night there is normally some soup or other hot dish and...more snacks.
The same comes to drinks. There must be enough alcohol for everyone and it is a disgrace if it's finished before the wedding and everyone goes to bed.

4. Music and dance

With younger generations come new traditions and customs. Nowadays, it is very popular for the bride and groom to hire a DJ.
However, it is still common for bands to play the whole night through Saturday and some of the Sunday. You will hear some old Polish songs from the 60s, or even older, and also some really traditional stuff.

People usually dance in pairs or in a circle, holding hands. Younger generation finds it a bit awkward  so the more young people at the wedding, the less traditional dancing you will see.

There are also some traditional Polish songs, which are sang by guests during the wedding, and they are always sang, even at the more modern weddings.

Dad I rocking the dance-floor 

5. Games

I could write a really long essay about this bit. Games are a very important part of every wedding. It is up to the playing band to come up with new and exciting ideas. The games must be funny and surprise the guests. They are also usually sex-related.
So, there is a one, when your partner stands up on a chair and you need to roll a raw egg from one sleeve of his trousers to the other one. Imagine how hard it is after a few shots of vodka you've just had!

The winning couple usually wins a bottle of...yes, you guessed, vodka.

A typical wedding band

At midnight there is something called 'oczepiny'. It is when the bride throws her veil to a group of unmarried girls, and the groom throws his tie to a group of unmarried boys. This is how a new groom and bride are found.
There are also a number of other games during 'oczepiny', but this all depends on a region and the couple themselves. Recently, I've been to a wedding where the bride was  kidnapped and the groom had to do some chores before they gave her back to him.

Who will eat a grapefruit faster - don't ask..

6. What to wear?

I always say that we wear to weddings what English girls wear to a club. We do not wear fancy hats with feathers etc. You can wear a nice, short skirt with high heels. Don't go too disco, but dress nicely, like to a good, fancy club in London. White is a big NO, as with any other wedding.

Gentlemen, you can wear a nice suite, with a tie.

7. What if you are a best man, or a maid of honor?

Then you have a very serious task. You make sure that everything is fine, the guests are having fun and the bride and groom are not too worried about small things. During the wedding it is your responsibility to put new vodka bottles of the guests' tables, if they run out.

What else can surprise you?

-We don't have formal toasts, like during British or American weddings. We simply lift the glasses up and say 'na  zdrowie'. There are also some short songs, which guests sing, after which the couple kisses and you can drink your tasty vodka.
-After you leave the church, the car of bride and groom might be stopped by kids or adults. Usually they close the road and don't let the cars through unless they get something in return. This is usually something sweet for kids and alcohol for the older generation. The bride and groom must always have these spare things at the back of their car.

Besides, there is the first dance, cake cutting and all that jazz that you would be familiar with.

My best friend - the most beautiful bride ever!

There are books written about Polish weddings and I can't say I'm an expert, but I've been to a couple and know few things about them. I probably forgot a thousand other things, so if you have any questions, leave a comment.

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