We had some time to kill before we needed to head to Hbova for the wedding, so we made our way to Donovaly to take some photos in our wedding attire (who doesn’t want mountains as a backdrop)? We had fun goofing about and I tried to give my best ballet pose.
Julian then wanted to take me to Vlkolinec, a world Heritage Site formed of 97 traditional cottages and has only 20 families residing in the village. We (and by we I mean he) got talking to a guy in the tourist shop, who questioned our wedding attire and said the Father of the Bride was in fact leading the restoration project on the wooden house next door. Small small world.
After a few chocolates and some water-I’d over heated and felt light headed- we were officially wedding bound.
A traditional Slovak wedding starts with drinks and nibbles ( I use both those terms loosely, there was a lot of drinking and cake! Yum), at the Bride’s family home.
The guests spend time getting to know each other and wait for the Bride and Groom. In Slovakia the Bride and Groom will often see each other before the ceremony, as the Groom has to officially ask the Brides parents for their blessing and her hand. In this case, our friends had made the most of the gorgeous summer weather and gone to take some mountain view pictures.
I am biased, the Bride has become a friend for life in the 18 months we have known each other, but her dress is by far one of the most beautiful I had ever seen. She went for a simple, yet elegant long sleeved lace gown with beading and she then incorporated her village colours by having a hand embroidered sash around the middle of the dress that then flowed over the tulle skirt of the dress like ribbons. It was simple yet amazing.
Then there was a blessing, Julian kindly translated this for me. The Bride thanks her parents for bringing her up and taking care of her for all those years and now she must leave them as she becomes a wife. The Bride’s sister sings in a local Slovak folk group. I cannot begin explain to you guys how beautiful her voice was, I was crying before Julian had even begun really translating the lyrics or the blessing for that matter.
The Church Ceremony
Then its onwards and upwards to the local village church. Traditionally, the Bride and Groom walk on ahead, then the guests follow behind. This gives the community a chance to give ‘Gratulujem’ (congratulations) ,to the soon to be man and wife and as village churches tend to be very close, when you can walk for 10 minutes it far outweighs the cost of driving.
We begun with drinks in the Garden of the hotel. Julian and I took the opportunity to get to know the Groomsmen (whom the Groom knew from his 3 years living in Australia) and their significant others. We also decided to goof about and take some more pictures. Why not?
During the first course of soup, the Slovak guests began chanting “Polievka je malo slana, nevesta je nebozkana” (‘Soup is not salty enough, Bride is not kissed enough’), which signals the Bride and Groom to kiss. It was a lovely little tradition that made me start to think British traditions are not nearly as entertaining and inclusive.
I wish I’d taken photos of the gorgeous food, but I was to busy enjoying it and making new friendships, so you’ll have to take my word for it that it looked and tasted scrumptious.
The Midnight Ceremony
At midnight the Bride changes into a traditional folk costume, and the Groom joins. The angelic vocals of the Bride’s sister were back in the room *holds back tears*. The folk group sung some songs about a girl sitting on a stone brushing her hair (usually long) and how it now has to go underneath ‘cepiec’ the bonnet as now you are married you cannot wear your hair loose anymore. *I asked the Bride herself, so I’m sure it is fairly right*. Then a man wielding an axe (yep an axe!) asked the Bride if she will take off her veil (which signifies purity) and replace it with a hat, which in this case looked like a bonnet which signifies the Bride finally becoming a women. So back to the man with the axe. His job is to get the Bride to remove the veil and put on this bonnet, or risk having her head cut off. The Bride refuses to do this a few times, before finally taking it off. It was actually quite funny to watch. This is another instance where I wish I’d taken photos, but alas I was too engrossed in the traditions.
Our friends then made promises to each other to look after each other and I believe there were some football related promises thrown in for the sport fanatical Groom too,that I’m not so sure the Groom was expecting or (knowing the Groom) is likely to follow through. It was all said in jest really, to make it more personal to them as a couple.
Then the wedding guests then encircle the Bride and Groom and pay to dance with them -known as the ‘Bridal Dance’.
Booze and Bedtime
Knowing how much I love my sleep and also, how much of an old women I am when it comes to burning the midnight oil, my lovely man “forgot” to mention that Slovak weddings, go on until 4am! By 2pm I was really flagging and although we politely told the Bride we were heading to bed, she was adamant we stay until the end. So, that’s what we did. After all she had taken the time to invite us and genuinely wanted us to share in her special day. What’s a few more hours between good friends? I powered through by munching on a plate of Watermelon, whilst Julian took the “drink my weight in alcohol” approach. Both of us also continued to dance, despite the aching legs and burnings feet and surprisingly this was when everyone really woke up. See, power through. Now I know.
It was by far one of the best weddings I had ever been too, bar last years when I donned my bridesmaid hat (trust me there have been a fair few in my short years as a 20-something).
We finally crawled into bed around 4.30am, greeted by birdsong. The next morning (or should that be, a few hours later), we made ourselves presentable and joined the newlyweds and their families for brunch. We had a 2 hour drive to our camp site near the Slovensky Raj and the boy was not in a fit state to drive. There was only one thing for it, I was going to have to brave driving on “the wrong side of the road” and navigate the Slovak motorway. My first motorway….