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Polish Wedding

While Poland has increasingly embraced Western ideas, wedding traditions have remained intact. For one, the Groom drives with the Bride to the Wedding and must first partake in a ritual with her parents. In Poland, there is a tradition centered around ‘buying a Bride’ from the parents. This is where the Groom comes to the Bride’s house and gives alcohol to every member of the family. The gifts are not only for the parents, however! On the way to the Bride’s house and to the church, the neighbors block the street with a rope. Only a symbolic bottle of vodka will enable the couple to pass! A couple enters the church together which symbolizes that they are willing to go through their live together. After the wedding mass the newlywed couple leaves the church and guests welcome them outside to throw small coins at them. The married couple has to pick them up and keep them. The tradition insures their wealth. The guests approach the couple to wish them a happy life together and give flowers to the bride and a present to the Groom.  The wedding ceremony starts at the reception, to which the Bride and Groom arrive after all the guests. When a wedding couple first enters the reception area, there is a ritual involving bread and salt. This is an old tradition from the 1800s which symbolizes the devotion and gratefulness of Mother Earth. Newlyweds receive it so they will never suffer poverty together. At this moment is the DJ’s or the band’s job to announce the ritual in a dignified manner. This ceremony is often filled with strong emotions and a DJ or a band,  have to be sensitive in how it is handled. Afterwards, the DJ or the musicians guide everybody through the traditional song “Sto Lat,” a song that means “Live a Hundred Years.”

“Oczepiny” is the most popular wedding tradition. It’s about accepting a new bride into a group of married women. During this moment, a bride gets rid of symbolic attributes. A long time ago it was a wianek (a flower headpiece that symbolized innocence). Now it is a veil. There are usually some contests during Oczepiny that are discussed with the newlyweds before the reception. They are usually dance contests, wherein the winners of the single male dancers and female dancers receive the attributes. There is also a popular game called “Passing a Rolling Pin.” Participants form a circle with the rolling pin to pass it between their legs. The person to the right has to grab it using only their legs and pass it onto the next. This game has become increasingly popular with the younger couples, as it’s extremely funny to watch people getting ‘too close’ together. After the Oczepiny ritual, the DJ typically guides everyone through the Money Dance or Czepek Dance. Money is collected from the guests to dance with both the bride and the groom. At the end of this ceremony, the bride and the groom dance together while the money is counted to determine who has collected more. . If someone requests a song, it is not strange for the person to give money as an extra incentive that it will be played.

While most wedding receptions in the United States last a few hours, a Polish reception is just getting started! It’s not until midnight, that the wedding couple cuts the cake! A typical Polish wedding can last until the early morning and has no set time for ending.  It ends when the last guest leaves.