What Does a Polish Wedding Reception Look Like?
A wedding reception, in the Polish tradition, is the most important and exuberant family celebration. During this event the closest and farthest family of the Young Couple gather together, the party goes on through the whole night, sometimes even till the next day (it’s called "poprawiny"). There are even also wedding receptions that last for several days, this happens in the countryside, but now less often. Families of the engaged couples prepare for the wedding ceremony and the reception sometimes even several years before the planned date. They gather financial means; come to terms with the priest and co-ordinate all sorts of details with the catering companies. Usually engaged in those agreements are members of both families, the bride’s as well as the groom’s. This is a chance to meet the uniting families and often also a reason for arguments and lasting animosity.
Traditionally, the start of the wedding celebration begins right after the ceremony which took place in the department of a Civil Institution or the church. The young couple, after receiving compliments and presents from family and friends, rides in a car decorated with flowers, strings or balloons. The guests follow the young couple in cars decorated with ribbons. The whole procession makes a lot of noise by honking their horns. It also happens that the young couple chooses their carriage, coach or limousine as a way of transportation on this important day.
After the arrival of the Young Couple to the wedding reception place, they are greeted with bread and salt. The traditional toast is raised, after which the Young Couple break the glasses throwing them behind them. The next toast, most often in the form of a Champagne shot glass, is raised in the name of the Young Couple by all attendants of the wedding party. Later the guests settle by the tables where they eat a hot meal, most often in the form of soup (chicken soup is especially most often served) as well as second courses. Large amounts of meats are served, raw vegetables and salads. Tables of Polish weddings simply sway down from the amount of tasty dishes. Delicious cold-cuts, cakes, jellies, deviled eggs are only part of these excellencies, which delight the guests. During the process of the wedding reception, the waiters serve warm meals: bigos, beet soup with dumplings, Greek fish as well as ice-cream, coffee and tea and many other dishes.
Also the tables cannot run out of alcohol, which most often is vodka, served by a chosen family member, who travels with a basket between the banqueters and his role is to ensure that nobody has an empty glass.
After the first meal, the first dance of the Young Couple takes place, most often dancing to their favorite song. Then the rest of the guests gradually join in the dance. Most often an orchestra with a vocalist is hired for the party. They play most popular tunes geared to the likes of all generations taking part in the wedding reception. Hiring a DJ also happens, playing music from discs, this however is a less popular solution. The wedding reception is considered successful, when the Young Couple and their guests party till dawn. Every person invited to the celebration should traditionally dance at least one dance with the Bride or Groom.
At midnight the traditional "oczepiny" take place. The Bride throws her veil or wedding bouquet behind her into the crowd consisting of single women. The one who catches the prize, according to tradition, will be the first to get married. Similarly, the groom throws his tie behind him, this way choosing a bachelor who will be the first to join the wedding carpet. Next the celebration of cutting the wedding cake takes place, in such a way, which would symbolize marriage unity.
The Polish wedding reception has its own rich traditional history. Certain parts of it relate to cultural manners for tens of thousands of generations. During the party, the guests raise numerous toasts; they party with loud, dance music. Different funny contests and games are organized. It is an excellent chance for the individual members of the family, who don’t have a chance to meet every day to exchange news. The family of the Bride and Groom has a chance to break the ice during dancing together and drinking alcohol. In this way, all the attendants will get to know each other on a less formal ground, and the Young Couple most often are also showered with money and presents which then eases a beginning to an independent life.