Polish Wedding Tradition - Reception and Toasts (III)

We just described a typical wedding ceremony (slub) in a previous article. Here is a continuation about wedding reception (Polish: wesele).

Typical wedding in a village is much bigger than a wedding which takes place in a town. Since people in villages own usually a house - they can afford to invite much more guests than in the towns where people usually live in apartments. In towns weddings usually take place in the restaurants, clubs, party houses in the recreation centers. If you are really rich you could probably afford to be married even in one of the old Polish castles but this is only for a high class or foreigners.

In the village it is not unusual to have a wedding which last three days and nights straight. Village weddings are very pompous with hundreds of invited guests. Often wedding parties began independently in the house of the bride - for her family and guests and in the house of the groom - for his guests. When evening comes two houses and two groups of guests are united, usually in groom house. There are some interesting traditions there. Of course many villagers are coming out of curiosity near a wedding house just for fun, even if they do not belong to the family or friends. Since they are not officially invited they cannot enter a reception until… the late evening comes. Finally a groom steps out and officially invites these who watch the wedding outside the fence into the house or at least inside the house yard for food and drink.

A follow-up party after the wedding is called poprawiny . Poprawiny are more popular at villages than in towns. This party is held at the home of one of the newlyweds' parents, especially when there is lots of food and drink left over from the wedding festivities.


Lets continue with a description of a typical wedding party in town or city which we started in a previous article.

It takes time for all the guests to arrive at a wedding party which may take place in a restaurant far from a church. A young couple can use this time for a visit at a photographer. Sometimes they do so between civil and church wedding ceremony. It would be surprising for a Pole to see the pictures of a bride solo in some newspaper wedding announcements in the USA. For me - this is not one of this day when we should be alone. In Poland the couple is usually photographed together, sometimes with other family members but the main wedding picture - show both, groom and bride together.


Beautiful Polish-South African couple
credit: Val Waters


Finally when a young couple arrives in a wedding house they are welcomed with bread and salt by parents who are also hosts of wedding ceremony. This is an old tradition it symbolizes not only the wishes of future prosperity but also a welcome of another child to the family. Since they should treat the husband or a wife of their child as their child also. If the ceremony takes place in a future house or apartment of young people the groom carries he bride through the door.

The most important toasts are:

GORZKO, GORZKO (bitter, bitter) - this is a typical wedding toast, the young couple should kiss each other in lips during this toast so that all guests would see it

STO LAT (hundred years) - very popular also during birthdays and namesdays (namesday is almost specifically Polish and Catholic tradition to celebrate a day of the saint after which we have a name)

NA ZDROWIE (for a good health).


Read the next part Polish Wedding - Food and Gifts - Polish versus American Wedding (IV). We will also try to point differences between typical Polish versus American wedding.

written by Jagoda Urban-Klaehn, (article #108)




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