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Getting married in Polska - some advice required about mixing traditions

Simpson 3 | 9  
18 Sep 2009 /  #1

I'm an English girl and I've been dating a Polish guy and have been living on Poland for almost 2 years. We already have a child together and we've decided to get married next month. Is there any advice anyone can offer about integrating both English Polish traditions/customs in the wedding? I know music will be difficult because we have to play something for everyone..of all ages and nationalities...

Any advice welcome

polilang - | 5  
18 Sep 2009 /  #2

This is a complex topic :-). I teach Polish as a foreign language in London and some of my students had the same problem.

- It starts with the speeches (Polish don't have them), so if you do them, then you will have to careful what you are saying in terms of cultural awareness and do them both in Polish and English.

- The menu might be a problem (don't allow Polish wedding planers to make everything in yelly - as they tend to do so and English wouldn't like that).

- The Polish games during the reception and at midnight would be a good fun and everyone will love them as well as the relaxed atmosphere (which English weddings lacks).
drew128 3 | 55  
18 Sep 2009 /  #3
I did this last year apart from me being the man and English. At that time we were living in the UK, but planning and have since moved now to Poland.

We both wanted Poland to be the place to be married, I felt the traditions here were important and having been to a few Polish weddings, I also thought it a better way of doing it than a British wedding. In the end we had a 90% Poles and 10% made it from the UK.

We had a civil service at midday and a friend did the translation for me and my families benefit. My wife wanted a church service also, but this was a problem as I am not a Catholic and a few meetings with the local priest to try and reach an acceptable solution to the service. In the end we all agreed a blessing was the way to go, everyone came and again we had another friend translate into English. We had no music, just the vows about 20 minutes for the whole thing, we both felt this was the correct way to do it and if we had gone for the full service I felt as a non Catholic my part would not amount to much.

My parents and friends had no problem with any of this, we made sure good English speakers were there to help with the day and explain what was going on. At the wedding party we had an introduction speech from a member of the band, done first in Polish and then in English. I am actually not sure of the tradition in the UK, sort of sit down, eat, speech, disco go home a few hours later. A Polish wedding is a bit more lively, I did not want a UK part as such, we held the 2 day party as a Polish affair, but making sure the non Poles were not left out or felt confused. It was a great 2 days and the English part had a great time and loved the Polish wedding experience. I shudder to think how a Pole would view an English wedding.

My biggest problem was making sure the DVD guy did not use western music, as some of the music choices are not good, Rod Stewarts, "Stay with me", good title, bad lyric. In the end the worst was 30 seconds of Take Thats "want you back for good" on pan pipes. I actually had a great time doing it Polish style.

The food was not a problem, we made sure the UK lot knew what was going to be served, we had a couple of veggies as well, the caterers knew this and offered different courses. No problems with food. I think trying to get some English food on the menu might be more difficult, I do think anyone coming to Poland for a wedding would be okay doing it like the locals.

The only problem was the drinking. We had a careful eye on the English incomers who gamely attempted to out drink the locals, a couple failed and ended up being shipped off back to the hotel early, I would try to explain the importance of eating and drinking soft drinks after a shot of vodka. Either the vodka or the dancing will take its toll.

I think the important part is make sure they know whats happening, the traditions on the first day, what the games are about on the second day, find a couple of English speakers to look after them, its easy for them to become confused with whats happening, perhaps post a DVD of a friends wedding to the UK, we did a 10 minute DVD for the folk back home of a friends wedding, so they would know its not a quite affair

Good luck
Paulie 1 | 43  
18 Sep 2009 /  #4
Is there any advice anyone can offer about integrating both English Polish traditions/customs in the wedding?

Is it a Catholic Wedding? If so, the church service will be v. familiar. If not, don't worry.

Make sure that the band is good, this is v.important that you have seen them / heard them before. We had traditional Polish music, dancers for the first couple of hours, then the band and everyone on my side liked that.

Also make sure that your English guests don't try to keep up with the Poles drinking vodka. This is hard, and ended in disaster for 2 of my guests! (on the 2nd day one fell flat on his face and smashed his teeth, and the other one got alcohol poisoning)

Is it hotel catering? make sure you choose something your guests can eat. A lot of food served at Polish weddings would be considered inedible by UK standards.

We worried alot before hand about keeping everybody happy, but in the end it all worked out.
OP Simpson 3 | 9  
19 Sep 2009 /  #5

Thanks a lot for the replies!

Polilang: No, we are not doing speeches and only a few people will understand them anyway he he.
I agree that the food might be a problem, I am vegetarian and need to ask the caterer to prepare something especially for me. As for jelly, I really don't want have that at the wedding.

I would like to do some games but I think this should happen before midnight as the ceremony is at 1pm..


I am not catholic either but my partner is. We have to send some documents to bishop stating I'm not catholic etc but want to get married in a church. We've been told by the priest it will not be a problem. There will be a polish priest who speaks English performing the ceremony.

As for the reception, I think some traditions will take place, I don't know which ones yet.
We aren't doing the 2 day party thing...personally i think its too exhausting, but that is just me.
I only have 2 English guests coming (neither of which drink heavily, or have the desire to do so) so I think that should be fine. I can only imagine a non-polish person trying to out drink a polish one...

Yes i agree, it's important to let them know what is going on..although I've never been to a polish wedding so it will be new to me as well.

Yes, it will be a catholic wedding, but I've never been to one nor am I catholic, so unfortunately it will not be familiar.

The wedding and reception will be small so I think a dj is better, we just have to find some music for everyone as I don't particularly enjoy lots of Polish music (I know people will hate me for that) but I think for older guests, this will be necessary.

I think the food should be ok, my English guests are quite open minded so hopefully it will ok. To be honest I think me being veggie could be a potential problem.

Thanks again
drew128 3 | 55  
20 Sep 2009 /  #6
Its was the same for me, the bishop to agree to the marriage in church, the only thing our priest ask that we both would say in church that any children from our marriage should be raised as Catholics, which is not something I would disagree with.

I have been to Polish weddings, but there is a lot of traditions that I have never seen, such as the kissing of the bread, my best man was a Pole from the UK, who between him and my wife guided me through the day. I said yes to a 2 day party, we are from a small village and my wifes side would expect the proper thing, it was tiring as we also were picking people up from hotels, we also bought all the drinks, the wedding morning was taking 180 bottles of vodka up the stairs, along with all the rest of it, so the 2 days were full on for us. Even though we were using the local firehouse with its caterers the veggie thing was no problem and the waiters knew who was veggie, so no problem.

We made sure that the UK part had wine and beer, but even my father joined in the vodka and did very well. The first day was long the party lasted 13 hours, finishing at 5.00 am. The second day was great as it was more laid back with a lot of children and lots of games. Our band was super, they hold the whole party together, the 2 girl singers worked their asses off, no one was allowed to sit down, the 2 girls spent most of the event in the crowd making sure everyone was involved and having fun. As I said to the wife after the second day "I want a divorce and lets do it again"
plk123 8 | 4,138  
20 Sep 2009 /  #7
make sure to have a mop and a bucket ready. poles tend to get torn up at weddings.
drew128 3 | 55  
20 Sep 2009 /  #8
explain pik123, I have no ideal what that means.
plk123 8 | 4,138  
20 Sep 2009 /  #9
which part?
SzwedwPolsce 11 | 1,594  
20 Sep 2009 /  #10
So far I haven't been to a Polish wedding, but I have heard it's one of the most entertaining things you can attend.
Seanus 15 | 19,672  
20 Sep 2009 /  #11
You'd be right there, SP. Non-stop eating, drinking and dancing. Atmosphere is key :)
ShelleyS 14 | 2,893  
20 Sep 2009 /  #12
Yes, it will be a catholic wedding, but I've never been to one nor am I catholic, so unfortunately it will not be familiar.

Sorry but that amused me, the only thing Catholic about a Catholic wedding is the church service...Its also the same as Church of England wedding held in a church (maybe slightly different if you opt for the full Requiem Mass in RC)

Nice to see everyone slagging off the UK and trying to say our weddings are crap, for everyones information, we have live bands at our weddings, we also have good food, but by the sounds of it most of the Brits here complaining how bad they you've evidently only ever been to one at some dodgy liberal club with Daves mobile disco and egg and cress butties on the buffet!

I dont want to spoil the thread for the OP but it anoys me when people slag off anything English...
plk123 8 | 4,138  
20 Sep 2009 /  #13
maybe they are just slagging of weddings?
Polonius3 990 | 12,349  
20 Sep 2009 /  #14
There are countless Polish wedding traditons, some regional, but the basic ones are the following:

PARENTAL BLESSING: if all four parents are not present, deceased, etc., an uncle, aunt, godparents or other older rellive can fill in. At the bride's home the couple kneel as the parents bestow their blessing and sprinkle them with holy water.

NUPTIAL AT CHURCH: the officiating clergyman will know what to do.

BREAD & SALT WELCOME: at the entrance to the wedding-party venue the bride and groom are greeted with bread, salt and vodka/wine on a tray.

MONEY DANCE: male guests pay for a chance to dance with the bride; in today's feminist era, female guests get to dance with the groom. The collected cash is cradle money for the future offpsirng.

BECAPPING/UNVEILING: the bride's veil is ritually removed and a traditonal matron's cap is plaed on her head amid the singing of traditonal songs, signifying her passage from maidenhood (virignity?) to wifehood.

There are many games of recent vintage whcih the band or wedding oragnisers can conduct.
King Sobieski 2 | 714  
21 Sep 2009 /  #15
Nice to see everyone slagging off the UK and trying to say our weddings are crap, for everyones information, we have live bands at our weddings, we also have good food, but by the sounds of it most of the Brits here complaining how bad they you've evidently only ever been to one at some dodgy liberal club with Daves mobile disco and egg and cress butties on the buffet..

maybe it was scotland, but the 2 weddings i went to were both buffet food and pay for your own drinks.

in australia, booze is free (technically not as you are assumed to have bought a equivalent priced gift, around the $100) and sit down served 3 course meal.
Lodz_The_Boat 32 | 1,535  
21 Sep 2009 /  #16
but it anoys me when people slag off anything English


But no one should slag off any nation, race or country I think :)... let us work together for unity, open borders, love and peace! :)
drew128 3 | 55  
21 Sep 2009 /  #17
ShelleyS it seemed someone was asking about an her upcoming wedding in Poland. I do not see how that is slagging of the English/British. As a British born male personally the Polish weddings I have gone to so far are much more fun and interesting than the UK weddings I have been to as a lighting technician working at wedding parties or attending them as a guest, my opinion only you understand. I would have thought there was a bias towards Polish weddings here as its a Polish forum, you could try a Scots/Brit site for people who might care more for that sort of party.

I have no interest in the UK anymore, I don't miss anything about it, I really like Poland, it ticks so many of the right boxes, as long as the good stuff out weighs the bad stuff then I am happy, the balance is all wrong in the UK for me, I don't think I can have a standards that are acceptable anymore there.
andrewwright 8 | 65  
21 Sep 2009 /  #18
I went to my first polish wedding in july it was my fiancee's cousin,i had never met her or her husband(now)before,probably the best wedding iv'e been to including my own a long time ago,(thats not the great lady i am with now, our's will be the best) if you ever get the chance its a must.
Ajb 6 | 232  
21 Sep 2009 /  #19
Ok i have been to Polish-Polish & Polish-Irish Weddings in Poland: things that can be odd,

Throwing rice and 1gr outside the church so be prepared to pick up a load of 1gr's

When you arrive at the reception, be ready to throw your champange glass over your sholder and then clean it up after you

One of the problems i noticed was getting the British people to take part in the game's especalliy after you hav just eaten a massive meal!

Teaching your British people to drink vodka or bear... not to mix them!... but they need to have vodka to do toasts so its better to drink vodka!

Hope that helps, just ask if you need to know anything else
andrewwright 8 | 65  
21 Sep 2009 /  #20
I didn't know what the games were at the time but if i did,i would have been involved !oh yes bring on them polish wedding!
polilang - | 5  
22 Sep 2009 /  #21
Hi Simpson,

The games (usually drinking games) can be planned or be spontaneous during whole reception however the ones at midnight are traditional and are called "oczepiny". They symbolise bride becoming a wife.

Usually the service is around 1.00, 2.00 pm and the reception ends after midnight.

Which is not the end as the next day is called "poprawiny" and you should have a similar but less formal party (so no wedding dress and more drinking).

Ending the reception before midnight might be a bit odd for Polish people and can think you didn't have fun.

But all in all, it is all about informing people what you are planning to do and they should accept it.
drew128 3 | 55  
22 Sep 2009 /  #22
I forgot about the blessing in the house, we did not have this, it did not seem right. I went to pick the bride up from across the street, escorted by 2 unmarried women, one of which was married..... I paid 4 bottles of vodka for her and they let me in. I went inside, but we all had a cup of tea instead of the tradition parents blessing, it was more comfortable for me and my parents.

Its worth to mention the importance of the band. Apart from playing the music, they run the games and you should look at them as the people running the whole party. They know when its time to do the important stuff, so you really can relax and enjoy the night without the need to worry about what time it is and so on.

Our band also provides the dvd of out wedding, so we had a meeting with the leader and we talked about the music, the video and what games we wanted. We left it up to them on the 2 days and were not at all disappointed, infact when they finished and had packed a lot of the stuff up 5 year old girl wanted to sing us a song, so they set up again for her to do this. We viewed the band as part of our party, they ate with us and drank with us.

We had 4 waiters for 96 people, they certainly worked hard, food courses after food courses arriving and making sure everyone had vodka. Its also a tradition that we have a dance with the waiters and cooks and pour them a vodka for their hard work.

Also my wife informed me as we sat down after throwing the glasses over our shoulders "We have now finished our part of the day, the rest of the time is a party for our guests"
OP Simpson 3 | 9  
24 Sep 2009 /  #23
Hi everyone,

thank you again for all your responses :D

I personally think that it doesn't matter about the country of the wedding, it depends on the atmosphere and the most important thing is people having a good time.

I've been informed by my fiancé, you throw your vodka glass outside the reception hall...maybe its a regional thing..I'm unsure. I havent heard about throwing the champaign glass.

Well i think people will enjoy the games and i think i want to do 'dancing with the bride bit' but does it really matter if we do that a bit early because as i mentioned before the ceremony is at 1pm and I will be exhausted and my son will be as well. I suppose we can leave earlier and leave the guests to it...i can imagine all the empty vodka bottles now...

I agree about not being comfortable with the blessing, it won't be right for us either. We already live together so there isn't a point.

oh right i had no idea about the band and waiters...we will have a dj so i think he will need a rest after a while :D

As far as i know there will be 2 waiters for possibly 70 they will also need to rest for their hard work.

that's a very nice way to look at the reception.
IrishinPoland 1 | 22  
24 Sep 2009 /  #24
A few people here have mentioned that they have had really good bands at their weddings. I am hoping to get married next July in Warsaw (where I live with my fiancee) so please PM me or post contact details here of the band you had at your wedding if you would like to recommend them. Note to wedding band surfers, don't self-promote by sending me your details cause I only wanna hear from people who got married, attended a wedding and have first hand experience of good party, music groups in Warsaw. Thanks.
Ajb 6 | 232  
24 Sep 2009 /  #25
details here of the band

I was just wondering if someone had a goood band and then how much it cost to hire.... the hotel we are planing our wedding with said 4000zl for them to arrange it.. this is in the south-west in Szklarska Poręba...

Thanks in advance :)
Jay24 12 | 64  
24 Sep 2009 /  #26
I was watching a mates wedding video the other day. He is Australian and his wife is Polish. They married a few months ago in Krakow. I didn't watch all of the video but it seemed like they found a good balance between the two traditions. For example, they did do speeches and a close Polish friend of theirs helped with the translation - these were well received and seemed to go down very well with everyone. Also, they didn't just offer vodka on the table but also provided wine. They used popular songs which despite being mostly in English were known by all. At the same time, they also had some more traditional Polish music to keep it varied.

I think the girlfriend and I when we get hitched, would do something similar. For example, I know my girlfriend likes the idea of her father walking her down the isle and not seeing each other the night before the wedding etc which I understand isn't commonly done in Poland.

So I think with the right planning, mixing the traditions can make for a really great and unique wedding experience.
IrishinPoland 1 | 22  
24 Sep 2009 /  #27
Re. wedding band prices I've heard quotes are generally 1000-3000 zł. It's a lot of money o pay and a big risk if ya the ya haven't got some references regarding their quality of music, ability to ensure mixed trads/languages are catered for. Still hoping someone here can give more first hand account of their experiences of mixed trad wedding bands.

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