Krakovany Wedding Ceremony

9 Aug 2005

Krakovany is a small village near Piestany, which is north of Bratislava, Slovakia. The town has a group of folk performers who put on a mock wedding ceremony for tour groups. Following is a summary of the main stages of the ceremony (or go directly to the photos of the ceremony).

1. The girls in the wedding party greet the guests with the traditional bread and salt. They pin sprigs of laurel on each guest, which indicates that the guest is invited to the reception.

2. The starting point represents the groom's home, and the groom is presented by the best man.

3. The wedding party and guests follow the band to the bride's home.

4. At the bride's home the best man knocks on the door. A girl comes out, but she has a sheet over her head. Maybe she's the bride, maybe not. The best man dances a fast polka with her, pulls off the sheet, and discovers that she is not the bride. He chases her back inside and knocks again. Another girl comes out with a sheet over her head. However, this one appears old, clumsy, and uncouth. She scratches the back of her leg with her foot. She dances very badly; her ankles keep turning over and she trips a lot. The best man strikes her legs with a stick to get her to behave. Finally, he pulls off the sheet and everyone is relieved to find that this is not the bride either. The best man then goes into the home to retrieve the real bride. He brings her out. She is beautiful and everyone ooohs! and aaahs!

5. The wedding party, guests, and band march to the church.

6. The wedding party slowly marches to the front of the church while beautiful organ music is playing and two young women sing. Later some men sing. Then the wedding party marches out of the church and pose on the steps.

7. Now the wedding party, guests, and band march to the reception hall (Kulturny Dom, or Cultural Center).

8. A ceremony is performed on the steps of the reception hall. Someone brings out a plate holding a small bowl of honey. A taste of honey is given to the bride and groom. Suddenly, the plate is "accidentally" dropped and breaks into many pieces. The honey symbolizes the sweetness of their future life together, and the broken dish symbolizes the unhappiness that is sure to come into their life. The number of pieces that the dish breaks into foretells the number of children the couple will have. The best man and others stomp on the larger pieces to increase the count!

9. The groom carries the bride across the threshold and the wedding party, guests, and band go into the reception hall. Inside, the groom dances with the bride. A meal is served, beginning with chicken noodle soup. The members of the wedding party perform fast polkas and other athletic dances to the music of the band. Guests dance with the performers and with each other. Next is a capping ceremony (not shown), in which the bride's beautiful headpiece is replaced by a cap and kerchief (babushka), which indicates she is now a married woman. Wives were expected to always wear a kerchief when out in public (to hide their hair and beauty).

10. Women guests pose for photos wearing the bridal headpiece and seated next to the groom.

11. Gypsies invade! Suddenly a loud uproar as a band of gypsies come whirling and shouting into the hall to loud and fast music. One of them wears a flashy red blouse, has unusually large breasts, and is carrying a baby. She claims the groom is the father of her baby. Several girls and a strange old man accompany the woman. The girls are skimpily dressed and do some wild, sexy, and high-speed dancing. Finally, the Gypsies are paid off and leave.

12. The dancers perform the last dance.

Photos of the ceremony