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Published: September 13th 2011
The tradition in Poland is that the Groom goes in the Wedding car to collect the bride from her parental home and they go to the church/ cathedral together, unlike England where they don’t actually see each other on the day until they meet up at the alter.
As the groom’s parents we were to follow in a taxi and meet with the brides parents and carry out a few Polish traditions. We had no idea of Milena’s address in Poland so gestured to the driver to ‘ follow that car!’
The wedding car was a black and white vintage model. We set off through the busy streets of Lodz no problem until we hit the first set of lights, the wedding car sailed through and we got stuck as they turned to red. Now what? Luckily the wedding car was travelling very slowly due to it’s age and sent out an odd puff of black smoke now and again so as soon as the lights went to green our driver was able to spot it, speed up and catch it up. With a feeling of relief we arrived together at Milena’s and our taxi hung back as Gary got
Gary takes the bouquet to Milena
They leave Together for the Cathedral from Milena's Home
out, bouquet in hand. Two cameramen were there filming the proceedings, a bit like being a film star really!!
We were greeted warmly by Zenia and Jack and the photo shoot began, followed by lining up to kiss and wish the happy couple good luck etc etc. Then Zenia performed some kind of a blessing.
After this Gary and Milena got into their Wedding car and the rest of us got into a car belonging to and driven by a friend of Jack and Zenia’s . We all set off to the Cathedral, our car arriving there first. Most of the other guests had congregated outside by now; it wasn’t possible to go into the Cathedral as another wedding was in progress.
Soon after the wedding car arrived, the other wedding party vacated the Cathedral and we went in. It really was magnificent inside, light and airy and filled with gold statues at the front. We took our places and Gary and Milena walked down the aisle together looking absolutely gorgeous. They took their places at the front and the proceedings began. The ceremony was mostly conducted in Polish but some parts in English. The two witnesses, Gosia
and witold each had a reading, Gosia read in Polish while Witold read in English. The vows were read in Polish to Milena and English to Gary, they both answered really load and clear, which is what you’d expect from Milena as she’s a professional singer but Gary was clear to and at that moment I felt very proud (and a bit tearful too! I’m hopeless I can’t go to a wedding without shedding a few tears!!)
Due to the mixed languages, instead of hymns two of Milena’s friends sang some classical music which was beautiful.
After the ceremony we all congregated outside, all the guests lined up to hand bouquets of flowers to Gary and Milena and give their good wishes. This was a tradition we were not familiar with so none of the English guests had bouquets but there were so many it wasn’t really a problem. Another tradition is to add a soft toy stork to the bouquet; this is to wish the couple many children.
Eventually it was time to go to the ceremony; a fleet of taxis had been laid on to transport the guests.
The wedding car and the one we
parents were in left last. All the guests were waiting outside to greet Milena and Gary when they arrived. We all watched on whilst the photographer took some amusing photos. One was of Milena sitting in the driving seat of the wedding car while Gary was at the back pushing it as if it had broken down!
After this we all made our way into the reception room, the tables were set with a whole profusion of food to accompany the meal that was about to be served. Also at every place setting was a small bottle of vodka in addition to the obligatory larger ones in the middle of the tables. We sat ourselves next to Gary and Milena’s place only to discover in Poland that’s where the witnesses and their partners sit and the parents of the Bride and Groom sit opposite them. I liked that idea as we could see them and talk to them too. Everyone else eventually sat down and a toast proposed.
Before being served with the first course the traditions began, Gary and Milena stood on the dance floor and drank vodka together followed by them throwing the glasses over their
shoulder and smashing them on the floor. As the glasses smash it signifies that the reception is open then the first of the four courses was served. Within minutes the Band came to the tables serenading the newly weds, they were a traditional Polish band with the typical accordion music you’d expect and really got the party off with a swing! Of course the vodka was flowing freely by now!
We knew Gary had been practicing dance steps but were not expecting what happened next! In time to the music Gary strutted out into the middle of the dance floor then beckoned Milena to join him, she did and then followed a lovely dance routine, they were brilliant! Everyone was delighted and cheered loudly, all cameras were out recording the occasion.
From that moment on everyone else joined in and the dancing hardly stopped all night. The two families mixing well, language is no barrier where dancing is concerned! The Band played popular rock music everyone could relate to and at times broke into a traditional type of music that had everyone holding hands in a large circle dancing together with people taking it in turns to dance
in the middle. Later there was a long ‘crocodile’ with Milena leading the way weaving in and out of the tables, pretty much every guest joined in.
The second course, a pork dish was served, every now and again the Band would break into a particular tune and the Polish guests would respond, I asked a Band member what was going on and he explained that they were instructing everyone to drink a shot of vodka and the guests responded by saying the vodka was too bitter so the newly weds had to kiss to ‘sweeten’ the vodka and everyone would drink another shot. Now this was really beginning to feel ‘Polish’!
There were several other traditions carried out throughout the evening in between sitting back down eating and drinking. One was where the couple had their shoes stolen and had to earn them back. Gary picked up Milena and carried her right around the room to get one of his back then a guest did some press ups to earn the other back for him! Not sure what happened to get Milena’s shoes back, the vodka was beginning to take over now!!
At midnight, the guests
formed a queue and two by two went to give their good wishes to Gary and Milena and handed over their gifts, in most cases, as is the tradition in Poland, the gift was in the form of money. Milena stood in the middle of the dance floor while everyone else stood around and threw her veil over her head into the crowd whoever caught it would be the next person to marry.
After this Milena stood in the middle of the dance floor while everyone else formed a circle around, she threw her veil over her head into the crowd, whoever caught it would be the next person to marry. A similar thing happened with Gary's tie, all the men formed a circle and he threw his tie.
The third course was then served it was a kind of tasty goulash but sadly I think many people’s went cold as by now everyone was dancing yet again!
The evening became a bit of a blur then, I remember some guests going home and I began watching the clock closely, Sharon was due to leave to get to the airport for her flight home to California at
5am, she was so happy dancing with everyone it seemed such a shame she had to leave. Inevitably the time came and her taxi showed up. It was a very tearful goodbye and I hoped and prayed she would get home without a hitch, three long haul flights immediately after a very alcoholic wedding reception must have been very daunting!!
Before we knew it, the guests were getting thin on the ground and we realised it was 6.30am, the sun was beginning to rise. Patricia and John left and we soon followed at around 7am with Dave and Claire. Another tradition here is that the bride and groom are the last to leave but only just proceeded by their parents. Not sure I could have stayed much longer!
As we walked back to the hotel the sun was shining brightly, we crawled into bed but by 9am I realised my brain was just buzzing too much for sleep so I got up and went to see if Mum wanted to go for Breakfast!!
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