31 paź 2011

Polish wedding

I was asked to write about the Polish wedding traditions. I must say that it’s a big topic because they are in a process of change. I will put it from my point of view which means a person living in a big city.

Firstly, a dictionary:

ślub – wedding

wesele – party after wedding

pan młody – groom

panna/pani młoda - bride

młoda para/nowożeńcy - newly-weds

goście – guests

świadek/świadkowa – best man, one from the bride’s side and one from the groom’s

wieczór panieński/kawalerski – hen/stag night

For many people ślub is an extremely important moment, planned even 2 years ahead. If you want a special place for wesele, you should book it very early. Still mostly women take care of wedding preparations but hopefully it’s also changing.


Before a wedding there are wieczór panieński and wieczór kawalerski. The idea of these parties depends on the engaged couple, can be quieter or more crazy. Usually best men organize this evening at home or in a club, so it’s a surprise. Some people are happy to receive erotic gadgets from sex shop and some aren’t so please take it into consideration if you are a guest:) You can for example order tort (a cake) like this:



There are 2 kinds of ślub: cywilny and kościelny (Catholic as most Poles are TRADITIONALLY Catholics).

a) Ślub cywilny takes place in Urząd Stanu Cywilnego – a public institution. It lasts 15 minutes. Here there’s an example of przysięga małżeńska (wedding vow). Then newly-weds exchange obrączki (rings) and are free to go.

b) Ślub kościelny – a special mass that lasts about 50 minutes. You can watch it here. Ślub kościelny requires a lot more preparations – you must attend to nauki przedmałżeńskie – a course of the Catholic version of preparation for family life (including family planning). A confession is also obligatory. Poles are good in avoiding all kinds of regulations, there are some way-outs if you don’t want to do this;)


After the wedding in front of a church or Urząd Stanu Cywilnego guests give flowers and presents to newly-weds. Now many people prefer to avoid flowers and ask for books, wine or a donation to charity. What main gift should you give? The best idea is to ask, money (in envelopes;) is very popular. The amount depends on how close you’re to the newly-weds and if you’re invited to wesele.


If you are, then you go to a place of wesele – can be far away from the church. Wesele starts with welcoming newly-weds by their parents. Usually there’s a music band that plays all sort of Polish and international music. Can be fine, can be a total kitsch. DJs are more and more popular because newly-weds like to decide about the music on their party. The two most important songs are "100 lat" and "Gorzka wódka" (bitter vodka) after which newly-weds should kiss to make it sweeter.

The first dance is important, bride and groom often prepare something special.



On wesele you should have fun, so eat, drink, dance and take part in competitions. If there’s a good konferansjer (master of the ceremony), it can be really a great party. Don’t feel obliged to drink a lot of wódka – I never do this and nobody forces me. You can drink wine or water, it doesn’t matter. More and more people drink less and don’t end under the table;)


I would like to write you about the Polish wedding traditions. What part is the most interesting or different for you? What should I explain better?

13 komentarzy:

  1. what about the fact that it's 2 days? i was also quite impress because it's the newly-weds who pay for the acommodation!

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  2. Especially in the coutryside wesele can last 2 days (the second part is called poprawiny - corrections:) but in Warsaw doesn't happen.

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  3. Poprawiny - a drink-fuelled brunch (late) in the morning after before happy couple and guests go their own way...

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  4. It all depends, different places, different traditions.

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  5. What sort of games have you experienced at the wedding celebration?

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  6. A lot, I'm not able to name them! The most popular is oczepiny (it's easier to watch than to describe): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8T0Za9Og_0&feature=related. Games can be funny, ridiculous or a little bit erotic. Some ideas you will find here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WXCxDPwhwY&feature=related. Usually the winner receives a bottle of vodka.

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  7. Which Polish foods are commonly served at the weddings?

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  8. Cold fish: herring, ryba po grecku
    Cold meat: ham, loin
    Hot meat: de volaille, kotlet schabowy, bigos
    Salads: with mayonaise
    Soups: rosół, flaki, barszcz czerwony, żurek
    Dessert: different cakes plus an obligatory big layer cake (tort)

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  9. hi paulina, i just found your site while searching for a paczki recipe. You are very prolific and interesting, My grandmother was from Poland and made the best "punchki". No filling and granulated sugar on top and very brown color. Is that how they are made in Warsaw where my grandmother was from? Thanks

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  10. Hi, thank you! We prefer them with filling but without are also possible :)

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  11. With out filling they might be " racuchy" instead :)

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