Poland has many ties to the Catholic Church so it shouldn’t be a surprise that many Polish wedding ceremonies are still held in churches. What reflects an observance of tradition is that during the vows, wives often pledge service and obedience to their future husbands (obviously, this is not what actually happens in the future relationship!) Two selected witnesses accompany the bride and groom at both civil and church ceremonies.
Soon after the ceremony – and you might think this strange – the guests start handing over envelopes of money to the bride and groom. Giving cash is very common in Poland. Very often, together with cash, the guests give a small gift the bride and groom asked for, e.g. wine or toys. How much should be given? Usually, a guest puts enough cash he might think the bride and groom spent on having him/her attend their wedding.
Before the reception begins, the newly weds are presented with bread and salt from the venue’s representatives. This has a purely symbolic meaning: bread is meant to symbolise ‘lack of hunger’, salt stands for ‘healing, cleansing’ as well as ability to ‘drive away evil spirits’, wine means that the couple will never go thirsty.
Following the bread and salt, the couple has their first toast: one glass of vodka, one of water. The glasses are first offered to the bride – she makes her selection without knowing which is which. According to the tradition, whoever ends up with the glass of vodka will be the dominant partner in the relationship. After the toast, the couple throws their glasses; if they break, it is a sign of good luck.
Food. Polish weddings are famous for the amount of served food. Usually, the reception starts with a served hot meal (starter, main course, dessert). After that, the party starts. The warm meal is usually served every 3 hours but, in between that, the guests can also expect having access to all sorts of appetizers, cakes, fruit and pastries. Too much? Polish weddings usually start at 4pm and last till 4am – this amount of food is just right.
Drink. Polish weddings also known for the amount of served alcohol, typically, vodka. If you want to keep up with tradition, you should know your glass will never be empty. There’s always someone who’ll refill it for you.
Games. Traditionally, the games used to be organised after midnight and be called “oczepiny” (traditionally representing the transitional moment for the bride as she moves from her single youth towards her married future). More commonly today the games are organised throughout the whole reception. They usually involve (more) drinking and a lot of dancing. Read more about wedding songs and phrases that are used throughout the weddings in Poland.
Cake. This is usually served at midnight and distributed to all guests by the best man and the maid of honour. Together with the cake, the guests and the couple raise a toast.
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