- Wedding of the Weddings
Wedding of the Weddings is an annual
meetingof couples who had non-alcoholic wedding receptions. The meetings take place in various cities of Polandsince 1995. The couples come together with their children to have an all-night-long non-alcoholic dancingparty, to exchange experience on organizing non-alcoholic parties for children, youth and adults, and just to spend several days together enjoying the local culture.
Wedding of the Weddings is a multilayered event. There are conferences usually held at a local
university, with invited talks, delivered by researchers, on family related issues (relationship in the marriage, growing up children, non-alcoholic weddings and other family feasts) and with contributions of participants. There are meetings and discussions with representatives of local government, responsible for family support and for alcohol related problems. A rich social program is offered: sports, sightseeing tours, excursions, picnics. Performances of folk singers and folk dancers as well as of pop stars accompany the meetings.
The major event of each Wedding of the Weddings follows a traditional wedding rite. In the evening there is a
Holy Massat the local cathedral, where a bishop blesses each couple, after confirmation of the marital oath. Thereafter, there is a wedding parade through the streets of the town to the restaurant, where a reception takes place. The reception starts with polonaise, an old Polish aristocratic dance, and lasts till 4:00 am, with dancing and games for participants led by professional entertainers.
The Reverend Władysław Zązel, provost of a small
parishin Kamesznica, became famous for spreading the tradition of non-alcoholic wedding receptions. In his parish, more than 90% of all wedding receptions were celebrated without alcohol. In 1995, he was invited by Radio Maryja(a well-known Catholic radio station) to tell the listeners about his experience with alcohol-free weddings. Listeners from all Poland were calling the radio station to say that alcohol-free weddings were organized by many individuals. Father Zązel proposed then to organize a meeting of those who had non-alcoholic weddings. The meetings were called “Wedding of the Weddings”.
The first two such meetings were organized in Father Zązel’s parish Kamesznica, then in
Zamość, Częstochowa, Kraków, Białystok, Koszęcin, Ludźmierz, Warszawa, Olsztyn, Wrocław, Bydgoszcz, Tarnów. In 1999, Father Zązel went with alcohol-free couples to Rome, where they were blessed by Pope John Paul II.
Speakers and preachers
Among the speakers, who usually come from the local communities, there also some prominent ones, well known in Poland, just to mention a few:
*Archbishop Franciszek Cardinal Macharski of
Zenon Cardinal Grocholewskifrom Vatican,
Wojciech Ziembaof Białystok,
Edmund Michał Piszczof Warmia,
Jan Tyrawaof Bydgoszcz,
Stanisław Stefanekof Łomża,
Antoni Pacyfik Dydyczof Drohiczyn,
Józef Zawitkowskifrom Łowicz,
Marian Duśfrom Warszawa,
Jan Szkodońfrom Kraków,
Andrzej Siemieniewskifrom Wrocław,
Wiesław Lechowiczfrom Tarnów,
Karol Meissner, specialist on sexology,
Aleksander Posacki, specialist of demonology, occultismand sects,
Janusz Królikowski,, specialist of dogmatic theology,
*Dr. Mieczysław Guzewicz, doctor of
theology, specialist on marriage issues
*Dr. Andrzej Dakowicz of
University of Białystok,
*Dr. Krzysztof A. Wojcieszek, of the Bogdan Janicki University,
*Mr. Andrzej Wronka, specialist on
Catholic apologetics, and many other.
Folk singers and dancers as well as orchestras from Polish mountains (
Gorals) are accompanying practically all the meetings. Folk groups from other regions appear occasionally also, like from Kujawyor Silesia. But also (former or current) pop stars come frequently to give concerts. Let us mention:
Magda Aniołand her band,
Viola Brzezińskaand 'New Day' group
Jarosław Wajek, former vocalist of the “ Oddział Zamknięty” rock band.
One of the reasons why the couples meet at the Wedding of the Weddings event is the general resistance in Poland (and also in other countries) against weddings without alcohol, so that feeling a little bit like strangers in the society, the couples seek other like-minded people.
The non-alcoholic weddings differ in fact from the ones with alcohol. The wedding ceremony is usually extended by the reading of a special letter of blessing (and acknowledgement) from the local
bishop. Then the wedding reception is not only featured by removal of alcohol, and so all the “traditions” associated with it, but by filling in the empty space by other attractions. As toasts in Poland are nearly by definition associated with alcohol drinking, they are either removed at all or replaced by table speeches, toasts raised with goat milk, songs in honor of the married couple and their parents etc. As the wedding reception in Poland is usually an all night long event, usually the alcohol “cares” for the guests late at night. A non-alcoholic wedding differs here significantly: dishes are served regularly, must be of comparable quality all the time, the orchestra has to play all the time, and the party is enriched by various group dances (polonaise, “cowboy dances”, “travel dances”), skill dances (zorba, mountain folk dances), games and competitions for the participants. Usually professional entertainers, who completed courses for non-alcoholic party entertainment, (call in Polish wodzirej) are employed for the reception to prepare and run the entertainment program.
Another aspect shared by the participants of the Wedding of the Weddings is the non-alcoholic
life style.All the family parties, like ones connected to birthday or name day of the parents or children, meetings with friends or friends of children, Sylvester (new year) party, church associated celebrations (baptism, first communion, funeral) are organized without alcohol.
The couples and their children are also frequently engaged in some abstinence societies.
* [http://en.weselewesel.lap.pl en.weselewesel.lap.pl Website of the meeting of 2007 in Bydgoszcz]
* [http://www.parpa.pl/?sub=3&check=32004#sub07_01 www.parpa.pl Webpage of the State Agency for the Prevention of Alcohol-Related Problems (in Polish) on the Wedding of the Weddings in 2004.]
* [http://www.duszp.trzezwosci.plock.opoka.org.pl/apostol_2006.pdf "Ruch Wesele Wesel"] (in Polish: “Action Wedding of the Weddings”), in. "APOSTOŁ TRZEŹWOŚCI 2006" (in Polish: Apostle of Sobriety), Annals of the Polish Catholic Bishop Conference), page. 108,
* D. R. Zimnoch: "Wesele Wesel - Kamesznica'95.” (In Polish: Wedding of the Weddings – Kamesznica’95”), in: "Hale i Dziedziny. Miesięcznik Ziem Górskich", 1995, nr 5-6 (57-58), pages. 14-15. (Polish journal "Monthly of the Mountains")
* B. Synajewska: "Bezalkoholowe uroczystości rodzinne jako element wychowania w trzeźwości" (in Polish: Nonalcoholic feasts in the family as an element of education for sobriety). M.Sc. Thesis.
University of Łódź, 2005.
* [http://ekai.pl/serwis/?MID=7841 ekai.pl Wesele wesel: do trzeciej, bez alkoholu (in Polish: Wedding of the Weddings, till three o’clock in the morning without alcohol)] , Article of the news agency KAI of 2004
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.