Polish Weddings Rock!

While being home last time, I was honored to participate in celebrating a traditional Polish wedding. I was absolutely blown away and nervous at the same time, when one of my high school friends asked me to go with him. Why? Firstly, I did not know either the bride or the groom. Secondly, I didn’t really know what to wear to a Polish wedding! I had no clothes, apart from my sneakers, jeans and a fancy Thai hat: pieces of clothing that are rarely part of a Polish wedding dress code. However, my sister was super sweet by getting me ready for the party by providing me with a beautiful green dress, as you can see in the picture below!

Two people are smiling at a Polish wedding
 Me and my partner Daniel

So what are the Polish weddings like? How to behave? What food can you expect? Now is the time to answer these questions. After hours of eating food and dancing on the floor followed by a long mass in the church, I feel like a professional Polish wedding advisor. ;)

A girl dancing and smiling
Me dancing like crazy, that’s the spirit!

All you need to know before you crash a Polish wedding is that Polish people are very hospitable, friendly and they like drinking a lot of vodka. Each holiday or celebration is an excellent opportunity for us to overeat and overdrink :).

Polish vodka with faces of the bride and groom
Polish vodka with faces of the bride and groom

Traditional Polish weddings are, without a doubt, one of the funniest in Europe and the wedding party can last even a few days. These weddings often pull whole families together to celebrate such an important moment in the life of their relatives. There is no way you will get bored or go home before 5 am!

Polish Wedding Ceremony Traditions

Marriage and weddings are subject to a number of traditions, customs and superstitions in Poland.

To start with, according to the tradition, an engagement lasts up to one year. Therefore, the wedding must take place within 365 days from the date of engagement. In Poland, there is a superstition that the wedding should take place in a month that contains the letter “r”. Planning a Polish wedding ceremony on the 1st April is not recommended for obvious reasons – April Fool likes to make mischief, not only in terms of weather (April in Polish is “kwiecień” and thus does not contain the letter “r”).

Friends and family gather together in front of the church
Friends and family gather together in front of the church
Polish church and wedding
The church in Zagan where the wedding mass took place
Polish church
Friends and family of the bride and groom
The bride and groom are picking up some money to bring them wealth and good luck
The bride and groom are picking up some money to bring them wealth and good luck

Polish Wedding Dress Traditions

Selecting a wedding dress is also shrouded in tradition. The groom should not see the bride in her wedding dress until the wedding ceremony. Moreover, a woman must bear in mind that the wedding dress should be worn only once when trying it on. Unnecessary parades in the dress carry a bad omen.

People are making a toast
A Polish wedding toast
People are making a toast at a Polish wedding
The just married couple is surrounded by their friends and members of the family

A traditional Polish wedding dress should contain at least one white and one blue element. The white element is a symbol of purity. The blue component bodes marital fidelity. In addition, the bride should also have something borrowed (and the favor of her husband’s family), something old (if necessary guarantees help from relatives) and something new (a symbol of abundance).

First dance of a just married couple
First dance
First kiss of a just married couple
and … first kiss

On the way to the church or registry office, just wed should look out for pigeons, as they bring happiness. In contrast to crows and ravens: they can be a bad symbol. Also, the weather on the wedding day has some symbolic meaning.  It probably doesn’t come as a surprise for you that beautiful sunny sky heralds happiness, and thunder and rain augur bad luck. It is interesting though that light rain is considered a blessing of God.

A table full of food at Polish wedding
 The table full of delicious meals including cakes and fruits

The journey to the church should go without turning back, even if someone forgot something! Furthermore, the bride’s father should accompany her till the end of the trip. The first moments of marriage require a thread of traditions. The young couple is showered by guests with rice or barley grain to provide them with fertility and abundance. The first joint toast should end up with throwing glasses so that they break.

Champagne and the fresh bread
Champagne and fresh Polish wedding bread

The Wedding Party

The wedding party is something everyone looks forward to. All guests are dancing like crazy to the music played by a band and you might be able to spot a traditional Polish wedding dance. There is no way you can stop dancing (maybe if you want to have another vodka shot). The whole place is decorated by fancy balloons and colorful ribbons.  To organize a party like that, the younger generation tends to opt for the help of a wedding planner.

People are dancing at a wedding
Let’s dance!
Wedding band
Cool wedding band
Two people are dancing and smiling
Everyone is over the moon!

At midnight, there is time for “Oczepiny”, a wedding ceremony during which the bride symbolically passes from maiden to married status. During the ceremony the veil of the bride is removed and gets tossed into a crowd of single women and the groom takes off his tie and throws it to the attending men. Then there’s time for some fun games. For example, a game where 10 women are sitting on a chair with their skirts and dresses rolled up and the groom needs to find out which legs belong to his wife, without looking.

Just wed are just about to cut the wedding cake into small pieces
Just wed are about to cut the wedding cake into small pieces
Wedding cake
Polish wedding cake
Piece of cake
That’s my piece of cake

Polish Wedding Food and Drinks

Weddings are one of Polish traditions (after Christmas) when you will never feel hungry or thirsty. You will be stuffed with enormous amount of Polish food and drinks. Overeating and hangover are guaranteed. There are many traditional Polish dishes served, such as Polish dumplings, herring in oil or vegetable salad with mayonnaise so everyone can find something for themselves.

Vegetable salad with mayonnaise and eggs
Vegetable salad with mayonnaise and eggs

The food is being served by waitresses every few minutes so you can taste it all and pick up your favorite.

Polish galareta with vegetables
Polish galareta with vegetables
Polish variety of pork breaded cutlets coated with breadcrumbs similar and chicken breasts
Polish variety of pork breaded cutlets coated with breadcrumbs similar and chicken breasts

How a Polish Wedding Ends..

When everyone is drunk and falls asleep on the floor, the party is coming to an end. The next day all guests gather together again to have a dinner. Although I am not a big fan of parties and drinking too much, I had a lot of fun and met great people.

I wish the bride and the groom all the best and hope all their dreams will come true.

Have you ever crashed a wedding? How was it? Different or similar to Polish? Share your thoughts with us in comments!

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About Agness

Travel freak, vagabond, photography passionate, blogger, life enthusiast, backpacker, adventure hunter and endless energy couchsurfer living by the rule "Pack lite, travel far and live long!"


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36 Comments

  • What a fun post! It was interesting to see how some Polish wedding traditions overlap with those in North America (like the something new, something borrowed, and something blue), but other aspects of the ceremony are completely unique (like Oczepiny, which sounds hilarious). Personally I think you should have worn the fancy Thai hat to the reception, though, haha.

    • Yeah, Polish weddings have a lot in common with North American weddings. Oczepiny is one of the funniest Polish words I know, makes me laugh every time I say it. YES, I should have worn the fancy Thai hat, would have been a lot of fun and what’s more I would have felt sooooo embarrassed!

  • Lovely detail there Agness. We were invited to a Polish wedding for 2011 yet sadly were unable to make it. We’d heard about some of the traditions but not as many as you mentioned there. There are loads.

    We’d also heard about the long party and extensive drinking.

    You have got me worried now. We get married in May, can I re-write the calendar month as rMay?

    • Not to worry the Guy, most of these superstitions are very silly, but you can re-write the calandar month as rMay LOL. Maybe you can attend the wedding in Poland next time :):)

  • Love this – but now I’m hungry with all the food pictures! Agness, you look so pretty in those shots you posted! I so want to go to a Polish wedding… Aggy of dreamexplorewander.com and I had a twitter talk on that just recently. Way high on my Bucketlist.

    • The food was just amazing. Thank you! Maybe one day I can take you to Poland with me and we can crash a wedding together :). Would be a lot of fun!

      • I loooove that idea!!! :) But only if we both wear fancy Thai hats :) Jezeli wszystko sie uda co mam na mysli, to chyba od sierpnia bede mieszkala w Polsce na rok – chyba w tym roku damy rade z tym planem :D

      • That’s so awesome Mariella! Hope we can meet up one day for a coffee in a nice Polish coffee shop :-). 3mam kciuki kochana, zeby wszystkie plany poszly Ci po mysli :):)

  • What a gorgeous wedding! Congrats to the bride and groom.
    Such an interesting post, Agness. It’s amazing how many superstitions there are surrounding the wedding ceremony in Poland. The ones about the wedding planning and 365 day max engagement were the ones that really blew me away!

    • They are many superstitions – that’s why I don’t wanna get married LOL Some of them are so silly like the one with 365 day max engagement :P

  • What a great post, Agness! I love learning about a country’s culture and traditions through attending weddings abroad! I once crashed a wedding in the States, and was surprised to find out that it is exactly like all in the movies! And after reading this, I really want to go to a Polish wedding now! They sound like so much fun!

    • I’m so jealous of your wedding in the States. I watched a lot of American movies and thought the weddings like this don’t happen. Good to know they are exactly like in the movies!

  • Polish weddings sound like a lot of fun! I love learning about different wedding traditions, especially all the quirky superstitions. You look beautiful Agness :)

    • Thank you Sarah. If you ever crash a foreign wedding, just let me know. I am also interested in different wedding traditions!

  • Nice to read about Polish traditions and interesting to see that some are the same as in Italy. Like the fact that the groom doesn’t have to see the bride dress before the wedding, or the ‘something old, new and borrowed’. The amount of food, drinking and dancing sounds similar too..
    I guess that was fun! Why didn’t you were your Thai hat? That would had been epic! :)

    • Good to know Polish weddings are so like Italian weddings. That was a lot of fun! I was going to wear my Thai hat and my favourite snickers I always wear when travel, but my sister started shouting “Are you mad!????? You are attending a serious wedding, not a party for backpackers” :-) so I gave up ;-P

  • Looks like Polish weddings are a lot of fun and of course lots of great food and drinks. Hope to go to a Polish wedding myself one day and experience it all.

  • Where are your shoes, Miss Walewinder? ;)

    Spanish wedding are way the same as the one you described,except for the Oczepiny and the huge amount of vodka :P

    • I lost my shoes somewhere LOL had so much fun, was dancing like crazy!! Spanish weddings rock as well :) Nobody drinks that much vodka so I’m not surprised :)

  • This was a really interesting read, Agness! I’ve only ever attended weddings with my family in the states. Since my relatives are strict Southern Baptists, I’ve never been to a wedding (or any other family event!) where there was alcohol ! This would be unheard of in Poland, I imagine? ;)

    I found it really interesting how the Polish interpret wedding-day weather; how nifty that a light rain is a positive sign, while heavy rain is not!

    • Thanks Cassandra for sharing. Actually I don’t drink much alcohol either and it’s hard to believe but I didn’t drink at that wedding at all. Of course, people tried to convince me many times during the wedding party but as long as you keep saying no while smiling, you are gonna be ok ;-)

  • This looks like it was a great experience, Agness. I have never been to a Polish wedding, but I want to go to one now!
    Actually, you share a lot of the same customs and beliefs surrounding marriage as North Americans do. Maybe not as much vodka though…
    xo

  • That is one hell of a party, I got scared when you said, as a groom, I have to identy the brides legs without looking. How do you do that? The bad omen signals are scary also, because you have no control over them.

    • Hey Sam! Thanks a lot for your comment :). It was a beautiful wedding and an awesome wedding party :)

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