No weddings and a divorce or two
You may have heard a little something about Polish weddings and how cool they are. Well, I’m at the age where I rarely get invited to weddings anymore, a Polish wedding or otherwise. And my own wedding – despite being a Polish wedding – wasn’t so cool. I mean I’m not invited because nobody is getting married, not that I’m so obnoxious nobody invites me. I do get invited out for divorce celebration drinks though. FYI, celebratory drinks post-divorce is a hoot. Really. Anyhow, no one expects us to pop back to the States for a wedding (or divorce drinks) especially for a second or a third wedding (or divorce), although one friend did have her new graphic artist husband photoshop me into a couple of pictures. We haven’t got much in the way of family here in Poland, the standard source of wedding invites. I’d pretty much given up on weddings, thinking the next round would be our kids.
Long, not exactly lost, family
You can probably see where I’m going. We got a wedding invitation in the mail. We rarely get mail that isn’t a bill or a last notice of some kind or a summons to testify in court, so we were pretty excited to get some mail. Here comes the tricky part, although the invitation was addressed to us, I did not have a clue who the bride or groom were. Not a clue. It was like the time we found a DVD of a wedding in our DVD collection, most certainly a Polish wedding, but not our wedding, not a clue whose wedding it was, watched the whole damn thing, didn’t recognize a single person nor the person filming, no idea how it came into our possession. It’s like that.
Who could it be?
It turns out that the bride is my husband’s goddaughter. Da-da-dum! The mystery thickens.
This August, I will have known my husband for 20 years. In all that time, I never once heard a single mention of a goddaughter. I mean I had always let open the possibility that a child much older than our own might appear in our lives one day; my husband was quite the popular guy, but never a long-lost goddaughter. We’re atheists for goodness sake!
This goddaughter comes from the Szczebrzeszyn side of the family, and my husband himself had not seen the bride for about 25 years. While I do thoroughly enjoy a Polish wedding, I thought considering we don’t actually know them that we didn’t have to go, right? Wrong! We were going! All four of us. Auntie What’s Her Name will be so pleased.
While my husband is a couple of years older than me, he’s really not old enough to be the godfather of a bride in her 30s. It turns out that if you really want someone to be a godfather, even a child, it’s doable in the church – da się, it just takes a little persuasion.
So off to Szczebrzeszyn, I guess. And it just so happens as it often does that as we were getting ready to drive across the country, our car died. Not wanting to cancel at the last minute, we rented a car for the occasion.
We arrived at the roadside hotel/restaurant where the reception would take place and got ourselves gussied up for the event. Then we were off to the church. We weren’t quite sure we had the right place actually. I mean we saw a bride, but we couldn’t say with any certainty that it was our bride. It turned out it was. We said our Hellos and waited for the wedding already taking place inside to finish up so our wedding could begin. The other bride and groom came out to a shower of rice and right behind them a lady we had met at the hotel. She didn’t know the bride and groom either and sat through someone else’s wedding (complete with mass) not realizing she was at the wrong one until the vows. She came out after the other couple and peered from left to right like a lady Mr. Bean, a Pani Fasola, if you will. She spotted us, and sighed with relief.
…they have different traditions.
The ceremony was a little different than I had come to expect at Polish weddings. First, there was no wedding march coming in. We guests were like – is it starting? I guess it was. The young couple were well into their thirties but were so shy and quiet in delivering their vows. I could barely speak Polish at my own wedding, but I belted out my vows loud and clear. Another new thing was that in this church after you take communion you cross your arms across your chest and keep them crossed as you return to your seat. At the end of the ceremony, the priest blessed the newlyweds, the guests, and also some keepsakes from the ceremony. That was new to me. The keepsakes were a crucifix and an icon of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa. It appeared that they were gifts from the best man and maid of honor otherwise known as the witnesses in Polish. That’s a nice tradition because if you really are a couple starting out your lives together in a new home, you’d need blessed objects to hang in your home. After that we were all a little thrown off because the bride and groom and their immediate family very unceremoniously walked down the aisle with no music, and it appeared that they exited the church. We confused guests high-tailed it out of there not to miss the couple and the rice and all that, but we discovered them in a vestibule near the entrance lighting some candles. We decided to go outside as the bride and groom returned to the aisle, and as the music began they exited the church. Rice, kisses, wished of all the best on their new way of life, envelope with tysiak (that’s a thousand złoty)…and that’s the last the bride and the groom spoke to us for the evening. Oh well.
Polish Wedding Crashers
The wedding reception was fortunately in an air-conditioned reception hall. The DJs specialized in disco-polo with various medleys of YMCA and Cocojambo thrown in. (Nobody did the arm movements to YMCA, nobody!) The DJs however thought that they were the most important folks of the night. For example, as the dinner was being served they insisted the bride and groom dance their first dance because the dry ice smoke was a-wasting. We were seated with Auntie’s friends from work, so the average age of our table was 67, but we got a hot political discussion going anyhow…I mean after those friends announced loudly that they couldn’t stand the current ruling party. That called for a toast 😉
I spent a good long time trying to figure out who everybody was, who this stryj and stryjenka were. After a very long interrogation of the godmother’s husband (with the same last name as my husband), I told him that sadly, I couldn’t figure out how we were related. He laughed and explained that we were not exactly related, that he and his wife had the same last name (her maiden name was the same) and that we were related to her, but not to him, He wasn’t a Szczebrzeszyn local – the names were coincidental.
The wedding was lovely. The bride looked beautiful. The other guests were gracious and friendly. Nobody forced me to dance or to drink. I had flat shoes. Misiu could dance with his girls on the dance floor (Rosie said all the songs were about her), but honestly, it was as if I got all dressed up, drove to a random church, and crashed a stranger’s wedding.
The kids were all danced out by 1 a.m. so I was able to put them to bed. Unfortunately for us, our room was situated in such as way that our door appeared to be an entrance to a hallway. That left us with wedding guests of various levels of sobriety trying to kurwa mać są zamknięty get into our room.
We declined attending the second day party (second day parties are traditional in Polish weddings) and headed off to Kazimierz Dolny, a place my husband had promised to take me for the last 20 years. Kazimierz Dolny is a lovely place. I recommend it, but perhaps not on the weekend. Maybe a lot of other husbands promised to take their wives there too that day, or so it seemed. We saw the sights, ate some lunch, and got back on the road. (PS This is chłodnik, a cold soup. If you mistakenly blow on it out of habit, your children will never let you forget that one time you blew on the chłodnik in Kazimierz Dolny.)
That’s a Polish wedding in a nutshell. It was an exhausting weekend, and now I have pink tulle skirt and nowhere to go. It will just have to wait for the next Polish wedding 😉