Ball Cap and I are both of Polish heritage, and we wanted to incorporate a few traditions into our wedding day. We had already served our guests some Polish dishes with dinner, but there were three things I clearly remember from Polish weddings I attended as a kid that we wanted to include during the night.
The first was the removal of the bride’s veil and an apron tied around her waist. Traditionally, this takes place on the first day of the Polish couple’s two-day wedding celebration, and it symbolizes the bride giving up her innocence and accepting her duties as a wife, mother, and hostess. The removal is done by a married woman, or in my experience, my mother.
I took my place on a chair in the middle of the dance floor. I completely forgot that I should have been sitting on Ball Cap’s lap for this part!
Mom removed my veil and brought out the same apron she wore on her wedding day. It had little brooms, rolling pins, and baby bottles sewn on the front.
Next, the DJ requested all of our guests make their way to the dance floor and form a circle around Ball Cap and me. Mrs. Ribbons discussed this same tradition here. While this song and dance may lack historical documentation, any good, Chicagoland Polska will have experienced it a time a two at a wedding!
“Let Me Call You Sweetheart” began to play, our guests joined hands and encircled us, and all began to sing.
It was one of the most memorable parts of the evening. There was so much love surrounding us. Ball Cap’s aunts said they hadn’t seen that done at a wedding in years and had so much fun!
Every once in a while, the guests would all rush toward us, arms raised. What a demonstration of love and support for a newly wedded couple!
The final tradition was the bridal march. The bride and groom head a sort of “conga line” around the hall and pick up guests along the way. The march ends at a head table where guests can gift money to the bride and groom, pick up a cigar, and take a shot.
This is another tradition that has been changed over the years from its original purposes. Traditionally, the table would hold a small dish of salt, two small slices of rye bread, and a glass of wine. The bread represents the hope that the couple never goes hungry. The salt represents that there will be hard times and the couple must learn to cope with struggles. The wine represents the hope that the couple never thirsts and that they have good health. Somehow, this all was broken down to liquor and cigars!
Whew! We were hot and thirsty by the time we made it to the head table!
Mama’s got her cigar!
I was so happy we were able to work these all into our reception. We even squeezed in a few polkas! These traditions were always the parts of the weddings I remembered most as a kid, and it was great making our own memories.
Up Next: The Final Countdown
All images by: Stephen Martin Photography