Guest Author - Barbara Swiech
I do not know if Polish wedding differs a lot from the weddings that are organized in other countries – simply because I only took part in Polish ones and watched foreign receptions only on TV (that does not always reflect reality). I will not write about posh weddings in expensive restaurants nor about very traditional weddings in the Tatra regions (as I never took part in these either). The below description shows the traditions that are kept during most of the weddings, no matter if they are organized in a city or in a village.
On the day of the wedding, parents of the couple give their blessing to the newly married. Parents with the groom (and some of the guests) go to the family house of the bride. The parents bless the young and they all depart to the church. The service takes around an hour. While the guests of the couple sit on both sides of the main nave, the couple sits on the chairs next to the altar (with best man and maid of honour – called in Polish ‘witnesses’). When the service ends, the couple leaves the church while the guests (waiting already outside) sprinkle them with rise or ‘grosz’ coins (Polish coin of the smallest denomination value – one hundredth of Polish zloty). Shortly after the service one may see (next to the church) a long queue of people waiting to give their wishes to the newly married. This is the moment when they are given presents, loads of flowers and envelopes with money (what is still one of the most popular wedding presents in Poland).
From the church all the guests leave to the place of reception. It may be restaurant as well as shed or school room booked especially for that occasion. As the newly married arrive as the last ones, all the guests greet them with champagne in their hands (most of the time the parents of the newly married greet them with bread and salt). Their champagne glasses are bond together. As soon as they finish champagne, they throw the glasses behind them. If the glasses break, it means that they will be happy in their marriage. Then they clean the mess they made together – the way they help each other is to show how they would help each other in running their house.
Of course, during the reception the most important things are: food, alcohol and music. The big feasts starts right after all the guests arrive (usually it is chicken soup and potatoes with pork chop). Although the tables are cramped with food (like cakes, salads, cold cuts etc.) still some hot meals arrive during the evening and night.
At around midnight ‘ocepiny’ tradition takes place. Depending on the tradition of the family it may include some plays. The most important part of it is, however, throwing of veil (it might be also bouquet or garter) by the bride, while the groom throws the tie. The lucky ones who catch it, will be the first ones to get married.
Of course there are more and less traditional regions and weddings. However, during most of the weddings the above traditions are still alive.