I recently had the pleasure of attending a Swiss-Polish Wedding. The celebrations took place in Poland and they were organized according to Polish traditions. In addition to the invitation, the Swiss guests received a guide to Polish weddings with useful information about customs and norms. This made me curious. I was looking forward to spending a weekend with my friends in Poland but also to being part of a wedding celebration of a different culture. Geographically seen, Poland is not that far from Switzerland. Nevertheless, there are some significant differences when it comes to weddings. Thanks to the information we received in advance, we were well prepared and ready to celebrate!
To make sure other newbies will be ready too, I have put together a list of five things you should know before attending a Polish wedding:
1. The dress code:
One of the first things I noticed in Poland is how chic women dress. Even older ladies dress up for celebrations and wear extremely high shoes. Weddings in Poland are a big deal and dressing up is a must. While guys wear suit and tie, it is appropriate for girls to wear a nice cocktail dress and high heels. Choosing the right shoes is important though, as there is a lot of dancing.
Obviously, we Swiss girls wanted to fit in and took the styling part of the wedding extremely serious. Before the wedding started there were four women who, during nine hours, took care of our hair and makeup. I think we were even more dressed up than the Polish girls!
2. The food:
At a Polish wedding it is normal to eat a lot and all the time. Within the first hour a starter, main course, dessert and coffee is served. After a while the eating continues with meat, then soup, then cake and back to meat again and so on…Basically you are eating the whole time and it is advisable to not eat too much in the beginning. In our case, the food was placed in the middle of the table and everyone was free to take whatever he or she wanted. Although this eating habit was a bit unusual for us, it does make sense when you consider it together with the drinking habit at Polish weddings.
3. The vodka:
Now let us look at the most important part of Polish weddings, the VODKA. I once read somewhere that questions about where to buy the vodka and who it will be purchased by, are addressed even before issues such as who is getting married and where. Supposedly this is due to a vodka shortage in the past, when it had to be produced in the woods. I don’t know if this is true but vodka is kind of a big deal at Polish weddings. Everyone is constantly drinking pure vodka in shots. In our case we had 80 bottles of vodka for around 100 guests. Obviously, this might have had some negative impacts on people who were not used to it…
4. The dancing:
There is a LOT of dancing at Polish weddings. Or maybe it was just unusual for us Swiss, where dancing only happens after significant amounts of alcohol. Right after the first round of food the guests, old and young, stormed the dancefloor and stayed there the rest of the night. And they danced properly in pairs. I loved it because there was a good vibe from the start and a real party. Once in a while they mixed it up with some traditional interludes. Once for example, they threw the groom up in the air while dancing around him and singing “he is getting married, we lost our friend”. This is their way of saying goodbye to the groom and his bachelor life.
5. The second day:
This is when the continuation of the wedding, in Polish poprawiny, takes place. You should take this seriously because it is almost as intense as the first day. In our case, there was a lot of food and vodka again and we spent the afternoon outside enjoying the sunny weather. The dress code for the second day is not as formal as for the first day but it is appropriate for guys to wear a nice shirt and for girls a blouse or a dress.
The wedding in Poland was a true adventure, and we will keep it in good memory. I would like to wish the newlyweds all the best and thank them for the great weekend!
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