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Vacation to Poland - The Wedding

Saturday is the traditional day for weddings in Poland. As such our Poland vacation was planned around the wedding of a friend of my wife today.

We got out of bed around 8.30 to start preparing for the wedding. My wife had an hairdressers appointment on the other side of town. We drove up there together, first we went for the flowers and then my wife went to the hairdresser and I spent some time in the old apartment of my parents in law which happens to be in the same building.

About an hour later she was done and we went to have the car washed. I don't care much for cars and as such mine is washed about every six months, however you shouldn't show up at a wedding with a dirty car so we told the guys it needed a spit shine. They really do great work, you bring the car and drive it into the appointed booth and they start their work. We went to the mall next to the car wash and about 30 minutes later we returned to our transformed car. Full hand work and that for 40 zloty (which is not even 10 euros).

After that we raced back to the other side of town, ate something and got our self into a ready state for the wedding.

We arrived about 15 minutes before the service at the church. The weather was really great 20 degrees and a clear blue sky. We started chatting to some people while waiting for it all to begin.

My thoughts went back to my own weddings about 9 months earlier, I could visualize my wife's friend packed with nervous in anticipation for the service and the day to come. I hoped his experience will be as great as mine was.

Not much later we find our seats on one of the wooden benches in the church and we wait in anticipation for the young couple, as newly weds are called in Poland. The music starts and two nervous and smiling faces appear from the back of the church. My wife controls her tears and all uncles start pressing the shutter on their camera, the service has began.

The first 10 minutes I try to follow what's being said, my Polish isn't that good yet so it takes a lot of effort to understand. Pretty soon I start to look around and study the architecture of the church, beautiful windows, statues and the complementary gold that goes with it. No doubt about it this is a Catholic church, not really a discovery as more the 95% of Poland is Catholic. I start inspecting the guest, is everyone paying attention? Where is the photographer? I quickly spot him to alter right, but wait a moment, same hairdo as I have the way he looks at his display on the back of his DSLR. I know that guy! That's the photographer we had such a good time with on our wedding! He doesn't only have the same hairdo as I have but also the same name, he used to be an IT guy and to top it all of his wife is also called Marta. Scary!

It quickly becomes obvious to me that the army of photographing uncles are making his work difficult. Especially after the rice and coins are thrown and the gifts and flowers are given. Every time he finds a nice angle one of the uncles unknowingly jumps in front of his lens.

After all gifts are given we have some time for a short chat, my wife obviously gave her friend his phone number and that's how he came to be at this wedding. As such my wife figures we deserve a free picture for our promotion and we get ready to pose. Really great to be with these people again.

After sometime guest start finding their way to their cars or to some other form of transportation to go to the hotel where the wedding party was being held. All guests have to be their before the newly weds so you have to take care to leave on time. It's about a 15 minute drive from the church to the hotel and when we arrive there are already a lot guests waiting. However no young couple yet so we're on time.

While standing at the entrance we were chatting a bit until the loud honking of a car interrupts the conversation, the decorated car speeded around the corner and stopped close to where we were standing. Of course the groom has to show his best side and runs to open the door for his bride. They walk through the cheering crowd and halt at the entrance, everyone gathered around as we all waited for the bread ceremony. The bread ceremony is when the parents of the bride offer the young couple salted bread and a glass of vodka. After you eat the bread you have to drink the small glass of vodka in one go and throw it over your shoulder. If the glass breaks it's good luck for the marriage. I had no issue with drinking the vodka as salted bread is more like a kilo of salt held together by a crust which is in bread form.

For the newly weds everything went of without a hitch, they ate the bread, drank the vodka and the glasses broke. On that note the party was ready to start.

All guest gathered inside, time for a glass of champagne and a song. In general on Polish weddings the band is like the master of ceremony in charge of keeping the party going which means organizing weddings games to be played with guests and often involving the couple. It happens more and more that the band is replaced by a DJ but the roll remains the same. I really do admire those guys, they've made it an art to keep people entertained and get them to the dance floor when needed. They really do keep the party going in every way possible. This DJ was no different. At first we were a bit surprised about his appearance in his crocodile leather tux. But as we soon discovered it was all part of the subtle rock'n'roll theme he had going.

When everyone got hold of a glass filled with bubbles the DJ played the "Hundred years for the young pair" tune to get the guests to sing. I've heard the tune a couple of times so I sang in my best Polish as loud as I could. All guests quickly lubricated there vocal cords with the champagne. And we all set down to eat. At that time it was around 4 in the afternoon and as an traditional wedding lasts until midnight; when the bride throws her bouquet and the groom his tie, it promised to be a long party.

At the table my wife and I met Alex and his wife Ania. Clearly we were put placed with them deliberately. Alex a Romanian born Hungarian lives and works in Poland and is married to Ania whom is Polish.

I never met a guy with such talent for language. His English was perfect and his Polish as well, of course he spoke Romanian and Hungarian. But when he started dictating sentences in Dutch with a Flemish accent I was completely baffled. Not really what you expect to find on a Polish wedding a Romanian Hungarian that manages to produces Dutch sentences.

Maybe I should clarify a little why I keep calling him an Romanian born Hungarian. As a lot of people know Hungary used to be a lot bigger then it's today. After the first world war the lost a whole load of territory, divided between the different surrounding nations, be it new or existing. Between the first and start and end of the second world war there were still more border shifts. In some cases that meant that inhabitant of whole regains were moved or swapped with others. This wasn't only happening in and around Hungary, but for instance also in Poland where basically all Polish in habitants of the then Polish city of Lvov were moved to current day Wroclaw, which was previous to that the German city of Breslau. Of course previous, previous to that it was Polish territory. In short Alex was born in a part of Romania which previously belonged to Hungary, but he Hungarians living there back in those days stayed where they were and suddenly had a Romanian passport. Today for Alex this means that in Romania he's not perceived by the Romanians as an actual Romanian, but on the other side when he's in Hungry is also not perceived as an Hungarian. Which puts him and a lot of others with him in the awkward position of being denied an identity other then what they can give them selves.

Not long after dinner a couple of people picked up some movement in a dark corner of the room, sound of glass bottles rolling against each other was heart. A couple of people close to me were leaning close to each other and whispering. Suddenly to men walked by the tables, one was holding a basket and the other was taking frosted bottles out of the the basket and placing them on the table between the guests. It didn't take long for them to reach our part of the table. Before I knew it I could read the red letters on the label through the frost. Yes, the vodka had arrived.

Glasses were being filled and everyone was getting ready to drink to the health of the young couple. All guests stood up and on their health the satisfying feeling of an ice cold class of vodka on route to stomach could be felt.

The party went on glass after glass was poured as the food kept coming. Interesting chats with Alex and Ania were only interrupted by dancing and the occasional game or other forms of entertainment the DJ was organizing. A couple of times the guest started shouting for the young couple to kiss and they could only be silenced by giving in to their demand.

Around 20 glasses of vodka later it was already twelve and bride was throwing her vail (as she had no bouquet) and the broom his tie. Not long after that we got ready to leave, we thanked the couple for everything and wished them the best. While my wife started our car and I was enjoying the tranquilizing serenity brought on by the vodka in the passenger seat, we realized we both quietly relived our on wedding a bit.

This very enjoyable day two in Poland could only be topped of by throwing rocks at the bedroom window of my parents in law in the middle of the night. Only when we arrived back we realized that in our hurry to be on time at the church ceremony we didn't only forget to take our mobile phones but also the keys to the house.

While I was advising my wife on the velocity of the acquired stones to set window, it quickly dawned on us that more extreme measures were needed to wake them. I walked to the car and started honking the horn while my wife was throwing rocks. After waking just about every dog on the surrounding farms we still didn't manage to wake up the parents. We decided to regroup and discuss tactics, the only thing I could think of was also flashing the high-beam of the car on the bedroom window while honking the horn and throwing rocks. Much to my surprise that combination worked and we could finally enter the house and get ready to go to bed.

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