Polish Wedding Traditions – “Polterabend”

A Polish wedding is not simply a one day affair. It is a full-out celebration consisting of three full days of binge eating, drinking, and dancing. The fun begins with the Polterabend: a Polish/German custom (side note history lesson: our part of Poland was under German/Prussian occupation for close to 300 years before WWI) where anyone from the community that wants to come and wish the soon-to-be-married couple well is invited to bring a collection of bottles and jars and smash the glass on the porch of the bride’s house. Traditionally, the bride and groom were supposed to clean the glass up themselves to prove that they would work together on the household chores. The people “testing” them could only be persuaded to stop throwing glass if the groom persuaded them with enough wodka.

***All pictures below are personal shots taken by Mr. P or me at my cousin’s Polterabend in Poland.

In the modern version of the Polterabend, some things have changed:

The glass is now thrown into a self made bin for easy clean up (The sign says “Wishing You Luck”).

And some things haven’t changed at all:

There is still a lot of wodka 😛

If you ever go to a Polterabend, you can also expect a lot of food:

My aunt and me with a tub of freshly made kielbasa on the morning of the party

And, in true Polish fashion, someone is bound to whip out an accordion and play a polka or two:

Mr. Pudding and I will be having our own version of the Polterabend, although it will be more symbolic than authentic.

Has anyone out there been to one of these celebrations? Does your culture have any pre-wedding traditions?


Mrs. Pudding

Greater Toronto Area/Vermont
Wedding Date:
July 2010
When Wedding Planning Meets Life
Wedding Drama

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  1. Member
    sarahbean 87 posts, Worker bee @ 6:53 pm

    Awesome! I’m of German-Jewish descent and I’m having a Polterabend the night before the rehearsal dinner, it should be a really fun evening!

  2. cardigan Member
    cardigan 8645 posts, Bumble Beekeeper @ 7:07 pm

    That looks like a lot of fun!

  3. perfume Member
    perfume 82 posts, Worker bee @ 7:09 pm

    Can I just say, I LOVE all your Polish wedding traditions! They’re all so meaningful, memorable, and often poignant!!! This one looks particularly fun!

  4. misspug Member
    misspug 3668 posts, Sugar bee @ 7:18 pm

    wow, look at that kielbasa! and homemade? just tell me when and where and i’ll show up.

  5. cola Member
    cola 2827 posts, Sugar bee @ 7:28 pm

    Man, you guys have the best traditions! Alcohol and food, yes please! (but maybe not so much on the cleaning glasses 😉 )

  6. quiche Member
    quiche 3150 posts, Sugar bee @ 7:36 pm

    Our friends had a full on polterabend here in the city – it was awesome!

  7. Member
    brittanymichelle 878 posts, Busy bee @ 8:08 pm

    that pretty much qualifies as the coolest thing ever!! our culture(being from the south) is just to invite everyone you know and have a bbq.. and bbq we will, probably the entire week before the wedding i’m sure i will be at my parents for my dad’s delicious cooking for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

  8. Member
    jordynrose 6351 posts, Bee Keeper @ 8:36 pm

    This one is super crazy! Good thing the box has come into style, or you could be in for one horrendous clean-up!

  9. Member
    gweenyb 13 posts, Newbee @ 10:17 pm

    I would love to do that but my condo association doesn’t look too fondly on the whole broken glass thing, I have wanted it do that since I was little have fun with it. I hope to see pictures of your mess. The hope is that if the bride and groom have to clean it there will never be another dish thrown in the house.

    I also want to do the kidnaping of the bride but I don’t think we have enough time. My big problem is that we have all Philippine customs as my fh was born in manila, and my to be mother in law is having a hard time accepting that I have a separate cultural background too. Just because I am white doesn’t mean that we all have the same ethnic background. I hope they have fun and will understand during the wedding that I am just as rooted in my culture even though I wasn’t born in Germany, just as my Future Husband is. I am just waiting for our children to only identify themselves as asian, that will be an exciting day.

  10. Member
    slicey19 3500 posts, Sugar bee @ 3:21 am

    We’re also planning a symbolic polterabend (in the German tradition for FI) the night before the rehersal dinner. I like the idea of a self made box for the smashing to avoid the clean-up. I’ll have to see if FI’s mom will support that one since she is our voice of experience on this tradition. I would love to go to one in Germany but most of the weddings I have attended involved traveling and the polterabend was a week before the wedding in order to give the B&G time to sober up.

  11. Member
    bzbear2 13 posts, Newbee @ 4:48 am

    I have been to many a Polterabend in Germany –

    Here the tradition is that everyone stands in a circle, and before they throw their object, they wish the couple something for their future.

    They then throw their object into the middle of the circle, let it smash on the ground and the future bride and groom are supposed to sweep it up at the end together.

    The sweeping together part was the nicest part after the wishes – it is supposed to symbolize partnership and cooperation.

    Then we had a big party with food and drink :)

    Have fun!

  12. Member
    mrspaetz 3812 posts, Honey bee @ 5:07 am

    thank you for posting these!!!

  13. Member
    beexiong 194 posts, Blushing bee @ 9:08 am

    Awesome! That looks so fun!

  14. Member
    alivoo01 2625 posts, Sugar bee @ 11:26 am

    I like the symbolism behind the polterabend! For a Chinese wedding, we have door games/tests the groom must overcome given by the bridesmaids pre-ceremony.

  15. piglet Member
    piglet 1045 posts, Bumble bee @ 11:28 am

    3 days of drinking and eating? invite, please? :) thanks for sharing! always love the insight into different traditions.

  16. Member
    winter 1333 posts, Bumble bee @ 1:41 am

    i love the symbolism too!! the symbolisms for all those traditions are wonderful.

  17. Guest Icon Guest
    No Day but Today | Weddingbee, Guest @ 11:00 am

    […] is all here, sans some missing baggage. The rehearsal dinner has come and gone, and my makeshift polterabend was such a big hit (who new that breaking a beer bottle on the eve before your wedding could be so […]

  18. Guest Icon Guest
    “So, What Does It Feel Like to Be a Married Lady?” | Weddingbee, Guest @ 6:45 pm

    […] make matters worse, my eating habits were pretty much just as dismal during our polterabend/rehearsal dinner, and our Sunday Poprawiny. That means that I spent a whole three days […]

  19. Guest Icon Guest
    The Foreign Affair: Let the Pudding Recaps Commence! | Weddingbee, Guest @ 8:15 am

    […] next, our Polterabend – less drama, more glass […]

  20. Guest Icon Guest
    My Polterabend | Weddingbee, Guest @ 2:45 pm

    […] aliiiive. (And Mr. Funnel Cake is too!) We both survived our Polterabends none the worse for wear. Sadly, I was having too much of a good time trying to understand […]

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