bride and groom exiting church

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!

W Szczebrzeszynie

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.

A family photo of sorts

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 zamknięty get into our room.

Kazimierz Dolny

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.)

Chłodnik, cold beetroot soup
Kogut Kazimierski
Daddy and Rosie 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 😉

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    July 16, 2016 at 3:02 am

    Great post! As always! You're a very talented writer. I am glad you survived the wedding. I just can't believe that the bride and groom didn't speak with you during the reception. This is not nice. One question – I often saw that the newlyweds do the toasts for godmothers and godfathers, did they do it for your husband since the bride was his goddaughter?

  • Reply
    July 16, 2016 at 6:53 am

    Thanks Gosia for the compliment. Now that you mention it, they didn't do godparent's toasts. It would have been quite simple as we were seated opposite the godmother and her husband. I feel cheated! 😉

    I was afraid to speak Polish to anyone because it was so loud, I thought I wouldn't understand anything or be understood. The godmother's husband caught me outside. He shares my husband's last name so I began questioning him (And your mother was? And your father? And your siblings?) trying to place him in the family tree. I was really struggling. It's hard to say things like "your father's brother" in Polish. After a good long time, he said, "Oh, I'm not a relative. It's just a coincidence we have the same the last name." 🙂

  • Reply
    July 27, 2016 at 3:11 pm

    OMG, Chris, I am laughing so hard right now. Too bad I am at work hahaha. it turns out nothing has changed (relating to weddings, anyhow) since I left 24 years ago.

  • Reply
    July 28, 2016 at 7:39 pm

    Polish wedding traditions are still going strong!

  • Reply
    August 6, 2016 at 12:31 am

    The question everyone is asking is why are pollaks so fucking stupid. Answer that one. Gotta be genetic.

  • Reply
    Słoik Warszawski
    August 6, 2016 at 3:43 am

    I visited your blog by mistake some 6 hrs ago and decided to read a post or two. It's 4.40 am and yes, I DO have to get up early even on Saturdays. Have you ever considered placing some kind of a warning or smth?

  • Reply
    August 7, 2016 at 6:09 am

    Vito – Is it a question often asked anymore? Polak as a derogatory term is used abroad, I mean outside of Poland. I suspect this concept of stupid Polak or even fucking stupid Polak came out of immigration in the early 1900s. That's when lots of Polish folks from agricultural areas of Poland moved to urban areas of the United States for example. Warsaw would have been difficult for such a person to navigate at first and adding the language barrier to that, I'm sure a lot of confusing situations took place in which the Polak appeared stupid. I myself was thoroughly confused by the New York City subway map in my own country and my own language, and was immensely proud to figure out how to get around in Poland. Genetics plays a part in intelligence or to put in another way, in fucking stupidity, but in this case I believe lack of experience was the true culprit.

  • Reply
    August 7, 2016 at 6:20 am

    Słoik Warszawski – I'm so glad you found your way here by mistake. Welcome! I hope you've had your morning coffee and have recovered from your night/ morning of reading. At least with kielbasa (stories) there's no hangover 😉

    Now about that warning, hmmm, something like this? Uwaga, można wpaść w ciąg (czytaniu)! Attention, you can go on a (reading) bender. I'm not sure I'm using it correctly. I heard the guys at the village store say something like that regarding drinking. Mr. Stasiu returned from odwyk (detox) and they were warning him to not drink a beer. His reply? It's only a beer. Haven't seen him sober since so I guess it's true.

    Thanks for reading!

  • Reply
    Słoik Warszawski
    August 7, 2016 at 11:29 pm

    Whoo-hoo,I've read everything starting with 2009. It's been a blur of pumpkin pies and egg hunting and religia lessons, but I really do admire your consistency – it is said an average blog lifespan is two years. Thank you for the wonderful time I have had and it is only me to blame that my family had to order pizza for dinner for the past two days 🙂

  • Reply
    August 8, 2016 at 8:11 am

    Słoik – No, thank you for taking the time to read everything. Wow, that's consistency. Pizza counts as obiad too!

  • Reply
    August 14, 2016 at 8:59 pm

    Great story…

    I wish I could speak Polish, but find it extremely hard to learn. Been spending enough time in Poland though first for work (around 2010-2011) and now as my girlfriend lives here… I still get confused about the usage of brother/sister to describe your cousin. I discovered your blog through Instagram and loved it! Keep those stories coming ��

  • Reply
    August 16, 2016 at 12:25 pm

    Harald – Thanks for your kind words and welcome to Kielbasa Stories. I can speak Polish fair enough, but I am by no means eloquent. Let's face it, I'm not willing to put in the work to reach eloquence, and eloquence isn't needed to order half a kilo of ground turkey at the butcher's 😉 About the sister/brother cousin thing, not all families use it. My friend who is an only child uses it for her cousin, siostra cioteczna I believe is how she calls her. My husband's family doesn't use it at all.

  • Reply
    Sallie Atkins
    April 13, 2023 at 11:38 am

    Love your family portrait………….and your shoes. 🙂

Leave a Reply