Cultural: weddings in Poland

It's the season for weddings!  

Poland is no exception to the summer months being "big months" for weddings. So how does a typical Polish wedding look?

First of all, in days past, typically couples had two weddings - a civil one and a church one. Since we've come to Poland, they've relaxed the law a bit, so that the church one is enough and they don't need to have two in order to have it officially recognized by the country as a legal marriage.

Since most people here are Roman Catholic, the typical wedding takes place inside a cathedral. The bride usually wears white and comes down the aisle as in the US - but they don't have the bridesmaids and little flower girls, and all that.  Just the bride and groom. The wedding itself seems somewhat similar to a church service with communion and sermon. They felt a bit like a regular "mass" with the wedding part added.  I'm sure it depends on the priest. The church wasn't drastically decorated as in a typical American wedding.

The big thing here is the reception. When people invite you to a wedding, it isn't usually the wedding itself that they are focusing on -  it's afterwards. 

It's a huge party and lasts for hours - well into the morning if not all the way into the mid morning hours.  

Typically they have live bands, full meals and lots of alcohol and dancing.  There is food, food and more food.

Family from near and far come.  It's quite a celebration for all involved.

And quite expensive.

I've been told a wedding costs as much as an apartment sometimes. More than one person has said the parents are still paying for the wedding when the divorce happens.  

(But really, compared to the states, divorces are less common here..) 

Many couples do not get married at all here -just as in the US. There is a term for that. When you live with someone who isn't your spouse, he/she is your "concubine".  When I first heard this term at a social service office, I kind of smiled as it seemed so..."Old Testament-ish". I really didn't realize that people used it nowadays. But it is a real term and they use it to describe a partner who isn't your spouse.

One thing I've noticed is that all receptions seem to be big.  This is a tradition that runs very deep here.

(In my part of the US, a reception could be as big or as small as you wanted - there was no "one way". If you had little money, then cake, nuts and mints were okay and you left for your honeymoon after a couple of hours. In other parts of the US, a sit down meal is common.  Still others might have a buffet style reception.)

Here, it is less common to have a simple restaurant meal as a reception, though I have heard of it.  I think even if the young people wanted to have a simple reception, parents (moms especially) really want that big party.

There seems to be a more even split of the costs unlike in the US where the bride generally pays for the wedding and the groom, the honeymoon.  

That doesn't seem to apply here, but I'm not quite sure how it works as I've not had the nerve to ask anyone the details of how the couples decide who pays for what for a wedding/reception.

(Discussing money can be tricky.)

Other things are similar - pictures are a big deal - though not having a bridal party means it is easier to take pictures of the couple. There is someone similar to what we call the maid of honor and the best man - they act as the "witnesses" and will sign necessary documents for the government.

 The receptions are really amazing. Think "all you can eat and drink" for about 8 hours straight.

They tend to have weddings between Dec. 25  and up to what they call Fat Thursday in Feb/March and then between Easter and Dec. 1 as the Christmas period is closed for partying (Dec 1-24) as is the period that is commonly called Lent. They refrain from getting married during these times because the Roman Catholic church frowns on the drinking part of the reception during these times.  

Often there are special reception houses that people rent that is pretty far from area homes because there is so much live music noise all night long.  In Poland, there is a "quiet law" meaning that between 10 pm and 6 am you are not supposed to make loud noise that disturbs the neighbors. They try to locate these special buildings in places that won't be a disturbance to anyone.

And now I've told you about all that I know about Polish weddings!

Have a great day!

All images are from google images

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Becky PetersenComment