Zuzana + Martin | Slovak wedding, Michalovce
Wedding , April 18, 2018
How a wedding looks like where I come from, and which things were new for me in Sweden.
I have started to photograph weddings professionally only after I have moved to Sweden. Therefore I haven’t photographed that many Slovak weddings. However, I had been invited to quite a few as a guest. Let me tell you about some of the differences between a Swedish and a Slovak wedding.
Well, I guess in every country you will see weddings that differ in the amount of effort put into preparation, choice of colors, traditions and so on. Slovakia is really trying to keep the wedding traditions alive.
Before the wedding
Just like in most of western countries, there will most likely be a black costume and a white wedding dress. After the preparations, the groom accompanied by music band. comes to pick up the bride from her parents’ house. Traditionally, he will be offered a couple of other young women first, whom he’s supposed to refuse. When he finally gets the woman he came for, the parents will give the couple their blessings and possibly seal the deal with a shot of ‘something strong’. (Just like in any eastern European country, strong alcohol is involved in events like these.) Nowadays, less than in the past, the bride’s parents stand for the cost of the wedding.
(More information follows, keep scrolling… 🙂 )
The ceremony and congratulations follow. Contrast to the Swedish churches with big windows and white walls, most of the Slovak churches are huge and dark. I was quite shocked to see how much light there was when I first photographed a wedding in Sweden.
Things get interesting before the reception. On the arrival to the venue, the couple are given a welcoming shot (one of the many that day), followed by bread with salt. Then the now ‘wife’ gets a plate that she throws onto the floor in order to break it into as many pieces as possible. The shards are supposed to bring luck to the newlyweds. The groom gets a broom and a dustpan to clean up the mess while the bride orders him around. This is to clearly show ‘who is the BOSS’ from now on. 😀
Giving toasts in Slovakia is not as important as it is in Sweden. Most likely, only two people would speak. One on bride’s side and one on groom’s side. More focus is on the eating, drinking and especially on the party. During the dinner the couple have to feed each other a soup. At any time during the evening, guests can start clinking the glasses in order for the couple to kiss.
Slovaks, too, dedicate certain portion of the evening to all sorts of wedding games, but since the invention of the Internet, these are often similar to other countries.
At midnight there is a ceremony of changing bride’s flower crown or veil for a bonnet, making her a wife. (Traditional costumes may be involved.) To make it slightly complicated for the groom, a group of people (attendees to the wedding) sometimes kidnap the bride, and the groom has to find her and get her back. This may be a bit of a challenge. (I once went to a wedding where the bride was missing until 3am). When he finds her, he has to bribe the kidnappers to release her. Since they’re probably already sitting somewhere at a nearby pub, a round of shots normally does the trick.
Time for the bride to change into another dress and that’s when we proceed to cutting the wedding cake. (On top of the main wedding cake there might be many other cakes brought by the guests.) The guests may now dance with the bride and the groom, but they have to pay for it. On top of the presents (and the cakes), this is another way to contribute to the newlyweds’ future. When everyone has had their round, the party continues until people have the energy and it can easily stretch to early morning hours of the following day.
Finally, before you leave someone’s wedding, you will probably be given a goodie bag/box, full of cakes (consider it a potluck of the guests’ cakes) and a bottle of wedding wine as a ‘Thank you’.
These are some of the major Slovak wedding traditions as I experienced them from a guest’s perspective. Of course, they may vary quite a bit even from one region to another, but that’s a whole new story. If you would like to know more, I encourage you to search for Slovak wedding traditions, I’m sure there is plenty of information out there.
These photos are from a wedding of a family friend whom I photographed at the beginning of my career as a wedding photographer. Enjoy!