I’ve lived in Poland for 6 years and this year was the first time I got the chance to experience the notorious Polish wedding – two in fact. And they were both more fun than most American weddings I’ve been to. In short, absurd amounts of food and drink and lots of dancing. So basically really great parties. Poles also like to play games at weddings, which can be a little kitschy but allow you to be silly and have more fun, so they’re not that bad. And if you really don’t want to, you don’t have to participate. Here are some other differences which I think are worth noting.
Guests are showered with food and drink. True to Polish hospitality, there is a mountain of food served at Polish weddings. First there’s dinner almost immediately after arriving. Dinner starts with chicken soup, then there’s the choice of like, I’m not kidding, 4-5 different types of meat, and of course cabbage salads and potatoes. Then there are two suppers which let’s be honest… one is like a second dinner and the other is just like some deli meats, bread and snacks on the table, which is more like supper. Then there’s multiple soup courses at the end of the night. It’s pretty incredible. I love that you can eat as much as you want because sometimes at American weddings the food isn’t that great and there’s not much of it, so you might leave hungry.
Translation: (not all translations are perfect because I don’t know what some things are called in English!) Starter – pate on toast with cranberry sauce. Dinner – chicken soup with pasta, beef rolls, fried chicken filled with butter (very tasty), chicken stuffed with dried tomatoes and blue cheese, ham stuffed with apricots, ham stuffed with plums, light and dark potato dumplings, potatoes with dill, a variety of raw veggies, and warm sauerkraut. Next is the wedding cake. Then the 1st supper – Pork loin with mushroom sauce or green pepper sauce, roasted potatoes, and green salad with cherry tomatoes. 2nd supper – żurek (rye soup with sausage and a boiled egg). 3rd supper – borscht with croquettes. In addition to that, they have cold meats and bread on the table and a table with baked goods Yum.
They last a long ass time. The American weddings I’ve been to have always been pretty short – 5-7 hours and that’s it. Polish weddings often go until 4 or 5 am and sometimes they’re even two or three days long, depending on the region.
No shame. The first thing that I really noticed is that, at weddings, Poles have no shame. None. Zero. No shame whatsoever… which to be honest kinda rules because everyone has fun, no one judges you if you can’t dance, and everyone dances. Literally everyone. My husband scared me at first by saying I’d have to dance with all the sweaty uncles but it wasn’t true.
Vodka is consumed. That’s the understatement of the century of course. It’s consumed at levels that would kill a normal human. Or at least leave them with a hangover like no other. My husband? Small headache the next day but nothing serious, whereas I would have probably died. Like literally I would have ceased to exist if I had consumed that much alcohol. You’d have to see it to believe it.
Gifts. Poles generally give money at weddings instead of a gift, whereas in America, wedding registries are really popular. This is where you go to a specific store and register for the things you’d like to receive. Then your guests can check the list, buy you something, and it’s removed from the list. People here skip all that mess and just give money, which I think makes things easier. I believe the amount is typically about 300-500 zł, depending on the person and your relationship to them.
Greetings outside the church. They also give little gifts outside the church directly after the ceremony – things like wine, flowers, books. This is when you can give wishes and some love to the bride and groom. It’s also the time to drop your envelope in the box. It’s nice because you get at least one chance to say something to the couple even if you’re not attending the reception.
No bridesmaids or groomsmen. Thank god for that. The whole tradition of bridesmaids is pretty exhausting in America, if you ask me. You’re expected to buy a dress that someone else chooses that you aren’t even going to wear again. Then there’s the lame pictures and all that. It’s nice to stand next to your best friend or sibling at the wedding but Poles have witnesses, meaning they choose one important person to be next to them at the wedding, and I think that’s really nice. Big plus – you can wear whatever you want.
Overall, I was delighted with my Polish wedding experiences this year. Looking forward to the food at the next one! Have you ever been to a Polish wedding that you didn’t have fun at or something embarrassing happened? If so, be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments!