I can officially say now, that I have plenty of experience at weddings, especially Polish ones! This year I attended to seven weddings! Crazy, right?
You might be wondering: Why did you have so many weddings?. Well the first wedding I attended this year was mine, so obviously, I had to. But just like us, many of our friends decided that this year was the perfect one to organise the greatest event of their lives. I had a lot of fun with so many weddings. I’m really happy that all of my friends invited me to celebrate with them, but my liver is not that happy and it needs a rest for a while.
Weddings are always fun events, full of love, magic, and promises. But Polish weddings are quite famous around the world. The reason? Well, keep reading.
Before I start digging into Polish weddings, I want to share with you a little bit about how weddings look like in Mexico, and how my wedding had a little bit of both cultures.
Mexican Wedding vs Polish Weddings
If it’s the first time you are ready my blog, well here is a quick intro about me: I come from Mexico City, I moved to Warsaw 6 years ago because of my Polish girlfriend, and well I just got married to her.
My wedding was in June, many of my relatives came from Mexico City, it was an insane trip with my whole family. We travelled around Poland for almost two weeks, it was great. If you want to know more about my trip with my Mexican family check this post: Travelling Around Poland With 15 Mexicans.
When my parents and relatives were still planning to come to Poland, they said to me several times: “Please David, at the wedding, don’t give us strange food, and make sure to put a lot of Latino music because we want to dance, and don’t forget tequila or mariachi…”. Oh sure, I was born to serve you guys.
Mexican Wedding Ceremony
In Mexico, weddings are generally formal events, depending on the budget of each couple, the weddings could be organized in fancy places, right on the beach or some people just close the street and have a party right there!
Mexican weddings are normally divided into two ceremonies: civil ceremony and religious ceremony.
Normally, the civil ceremony is not much of a big deal, and many Mexicans do not really celebrate it. But in case of religious weddings (catholics), you have the full package. The bride wears a beautiful white dress, the church is fully decorated and people go there to celebrate the love of the couple.
It is common that the guests and groom will enter first to the church. The groom will be at the altar waiting for his love. When all people is ready the bride will enter to the church together with her dad, while the typical wedding song is played in the background.
Mexican Wedding Traditions
Sometimes, when people don’t have a lot of money to cover the wedding cost for themselves, it is common to have weddings sponsors. These sponsors are referred to as los padrinos or best men and las madrinas or the bridesmaids.
They have important responsibilities at a Mexican wedding, including paying for certain elements of the celebration, for example: the wedding cake, the alcohol, the food, photographer, etc.
Wedding coins (in Spanish: Arras matrimoniales)
During the wedding mass, the priest blesses a box that contains 13 gold coins (arras), the coins represent the groom’s financial treasures. When he gives them to the bride, he is showing that he trusts her with his wealth, and his money is her money – Mi casa es tu casa.
Vibora de la Mar (Snake of the Sea)
During weddings, it’s the best chance we have to show our moves! In Mexico, we really like to dance salsa, cumbia, merengue, pop, and nowadays reggeaton as well.
But one of the most traditional dances during the night is the infamous ‘Vibora de la Mar’. During this dance, the groom and the bride get on two chairs and they hold to two ends of the veil of the bride; while the guests must pass under the arch they form. So all those who pass try to throw them off the chairs, representing the problems they may have throughout their marriage.
The trick and objective of it is that nothing and no one can separate them; they must remain standing on the chairs, without letting go of each other as it is believed that they will endure the problems and difficulties. And if they separate it means that problems could separate them.
And of course, during weddings, it’s almost mandatory to have Mariachi! If there was no mariachi, was there even a wedding?. I had a mariachi at my wedding here in Warsaw and it was awesome! No one expected it and it was the highlight of the night!
Throw of the bouquet
As in many other countries in the world, the bride stands in front of single women, she turns back and throws the bouquet without seeing to whom, and the one who catches the bouquet is the next to get married.
The Food at Mexican Weddings
You might be thinking: “It’s a Mexican wedding so there must be tacos”, well you are not wrong, but you are not right either. At weddings, normally the food is quite fancy, or extremely traditional. For sure you will eat delicious food! But there is one dish that will always be present – Chilaquiles.
The chilaquiles are a typical Mexican dish, they are fried tortilla with green or red sauce, and of course, they have to be spicy to taste good. They are given at around 2-3 am in order to get people sober to continue the party! Mexicans we also like to drink, the traditional alcoholic drink is tequila, but many people also drink wine, rum and so on.
There are many more traditions at Mexican weddings, especially if it is taking place in smaller towns, but I guess I covered the most general and popular ones. Now that you have a general overview of Mexican weddings, let’s jump now for what you came for – Polish weddings.
Polish Wedding Traditions
As I said before, Polish weddings are quite unique and famous around the world, and now let’s see why is that. Let’s start with two fundamental things, the difference between ślub and wesele.
Ślub vs Wesele
In English and Spanish, the meaning of ślub and wesele is just wedding, there is no other word for this, but because this is the Polish language we are talking about, of course, there has to be something complicated.
The Polish word “ślub” refers to a ceremony in a church and “wesele” means wedding party, so what does this mean? It means that if you get an invitation for a Polish wedding, you must check carefully if they are inviting you just for the church ceremony or just for the party, or for both of them!
Honestly speaking, for me, it is weird and quite disrespectful for me to invite some people to just to the religious ceremony… but this is pretty common in Poland.
You Shouldn’t Get Married in Certain Months
In Poland, it is believed that people should only get married during months that contain the letter R on their names. In Polish these months are March, June, August, September, October, and December.
The reason for this is because it is believed that these months will bring good luck to a marriage! But of course, to find a free venue during these months is crazy! You should book at least 1 year in advance.
Polish Wedding Ceremony
In Poland, just like in Mexico, is still pretty common to have a wedding at the church, but probably the biggest difference is that if you have a religious ceremony, the civil paperwork will be done by the church, which is pretty great because you will save a lot of time.
Normally, both the bride and groom will enter the church at the same time! Which might be different from all the American movies you watched in the past. The ceremony at church is very formal, the couple will be sitting at the front of the altar and behind them the godfather and the bridesmaid.
It’s time for the rings. A difference from Mexico is that in Poland the rings will not be given by the godfather, they will be blessed by the priest and he will give them to the groom and bride!
The couple will have to say the vows in Polish, for the groom it looks like these: “Ja (groom’s name) biorę Ciebie (bride’s name) za żonę i ślubuję Ci miłość, wierność i uczciwość małżeńską oraz to, że Cię nie opuszczę aż do śmierci. Tak mi dopomóż Panie Boże Wszechmogący w Trójcy Jedyny i Wszyscy Święci.”. It looks like a tongue twister, but somehow when I got married I was able to say it!
The Queue for The Presents
When the beautiful couple gets married and they go out of the church, people will start making a queue outside of the church (this could happen as well outside the venue where the party will be held). But why people do this? In Poland, there is a tradition to give presents to the married couple, and the way to give the presents to them is by making a queue and going one by one.
The traditional gift is to put money inside an envelope, people can put as much money as they want, but, commonly, you give at least the equivalent of the cost of the food of the party. Many people give as well bottles of wine, flowers, chocolates and more.
Bread, Salt, Vodka & Water
After the church, people will go to the venue where the amazing party will be held. But they will not enter yet, they will wait for the married couple. Before they enter the venue, they will be received by their parents with a plate that has bread, salt, vodka, and water. The bread is given so the couple may never known hunger, and the salt reminds them of life’s difficulties and the importance of learning to cope.
Then, the couple has the first toast as a married couple. The father of the bride presents a couple with two shot glasses, one is which is full of vodka and the other one is full of water. The bride is the first to choose. The Polish tradition says that whoever chooses the vodka glass, will be the dominant partner in the relationship. After drinking the shot, they have to throw the glasses: If the glasses brake, it means they will leave together long and happy.
Large Tables For the Guests
When I attended my first Polish wedding I was surprised to see one large table where all the people would sit; which was completely different from my country.
In Mexico for example, we have round tables with ten people each. In Poland, it is still common to have this, two or three large tables with all of the guests sitting together.
Honestly, I’m not a big fan of those large tables, because you can’t talk with a lot of people, but that’s just my opinion.
Traditional Food at a Polish Wedding
Polish weddings are also really famous because of the insane amount of food that you will eat!
An important thing to mention: there is always food on the table (which is different from Mexican weddings for example). One of the reasons to have so much food is to avoid being completely drunk during the party. Believe me when I say this, be prepared to eat like you never did before! Normally, there will be at least:
- Hot soup
- One main dish
- Second hot soup
- Second main dish
But as I mentioned before, there is always food on the tables, what you can find there is all kind of appetizers, for example fruits, cheeses, cold meats, vegetables, herring, pickles, pastries and more!
The traditional hot soups that are served are: rosół, pomidorowa (tomato soup). As for the main dishes, they may vary from region to region, but it’s common to find potatoes or cabbage.
Also, it’s like a rule that there will be a designated table with a lot of traditional Polish food: sausages, smalec, bread, pickles, ham, cheese, and bimber.
Vodka, vodka and more vodka
I wrote before that one of the reasons that there is so much food is to avoid being completely drunk during the party… Yes! Poles love to drink vodka during their weddings! Recently, there was an analysis made by an e-commerce website and the conclusion was: 163 bottles of vodka are ordered for an average Polish wedding.
It’s hard to imagine this, but if you’ve ever been to a Polish wedding you might find this normal. The bottles of vodka seem endless.
Since the first moment you sit on the table, someone will start pouring vodka and start to celebrate. Also, in random times during the party, people will be shouting “gorzko, gorzko, gorzko”, which means “bitter, bitter, bitter”, they do this so the groom and bride kiss each other to make the night sweeter!
If you are wondering: How I survived so many Polish weddings? Well, my advice is to keep eating the whole night, especially fatty food like smalec, and go dancing as much as possible! And of course, don’t dare any Polish uncle of the bride or groom for a drinking game… you will lose!
Typical Music in a Polish Wedding
In Poland, it is common to have a live band that will play during the night, but nowadays it’s also pretty common to have just a DJ that will play the best music to make people dance. In general, there is one musical genre that is hated by many people but at the same time loved by millions! This musical genre is called ‘Disco-Polo’.
Disco-Polo is a musical genre that was born in Poland at the beginning of the 80’s and it was known as Pavement Music (piosenka chodnikowa in Polish) because you could only find this type of music in the streets markets. But Disco-Polo is the most typical music in most of Polish weddings! It has rhythm and some songs that all Poles know (even if some say they don’t).
My favorite Disco-Polo songs are: Jesteś szalona, Ona Tańczy dla mnie or Przez Twe Oczy Zielone. One important thing that you need to remember: It is mandatory to dance at least one song with the bride.
Just like some other countries in the world, there will be a traditional wedding cake. Guests will be singing the song Sto Lat, and the bride and groom will cut the first piece and feed each other with it.
Traditional Games – Oczepiny
Exactly at midnight, after all that food, cake, vodka and dance, it’s time for something called Oczepiny. It is one of the most expected moments of the night, it is organized at midnight as it represents the moment when the bride moved from her single youth towards her married future.
In the past, during the oczepiny there were crazy traditions like cutting the hair of the bride, but nowadays this is different. This moment of the night is more to have fun and play games.
The first thing during the oczepiny is that the bride will throw her bouquet or veil to the single women. The groom will throw his tie to the single men. It is believed that those who catch these gadgets, will be the next to get married.
After this, more games can be organized, for example: making a trivia or a contest to give prizes to the guests! It’s really funny!
Duration of weddings
In Mexico, the wedding celebration last one day and that’s it! They will ask you to go home. In Poland, this is different. It’s extremely common to have a 2nd day celebration! Yes, you read it right! After all that food you ate, and all the liters of vodka that are punching your liver, guess
what!? It is not over yet…
The second-day celebration is called “poprawiny” and it basically looks the same as the first day: tons of food, lots of vodka, disco-polo and a lot of fun! In some regions of Poland, wedding parties can last three or four days!
Which Weddings are Better? Mexicans or Polish Weddings?
Now that you know a little bit more about Mexican and Polish weddings, you can decide which one is better. For me, both are great and unique. In our case, our wedding was a Polish-Mexican one, so we have the best of both cultures: vodka, tequila, mariachi, disco-polo, tacos and żurek!
But one thing is for sure, you have to attend at least one Polish wedding in your life! You will have one of the best moments of your life!
Wow very interesting to compare. I love the arch made by the wedding veil and all folks passing underneath it. That sounds like fun, if the vodka had not got to you! Great post.
Thank you so much for reading my article! :D And yes! the arch is pretty awesome! People enjoy it more after a few shots of tequila or vodka haha
STO LAT !!!!
“The bread is given so the couple may never known hunger, and the salt reminds them of life’s difficulties and the importance of learning to cope.” Salt usually was considered as symbol of wealth & perseverance: old kind of refrigeration 😉
Oh yes! :D they mentioned that about salt in the Wieliczka tour I did! :D Thanks for sharing!