About a month ago we were invited to a Serbian wedding. A co-worker of Christian’s was getting married and he offered to let us stay in his family home. So we decided to take him up on that offer and journey the 12 hour bus ride from Vienna to Serbia.
We got to the bus station and joined a group of other people who were waiting to board the bus. We were excited to just get there, despite the thought of sitting on a bus for 12 hours (thats longer than a flight to Vancouver!)
After boarding the bus and finding our seats the bus was ready to leave. The engines started and we were ready to pull away when all of a sudden the front tire popped. With our whole bus tilted over to the right side, we all got off the bus to see what happened.
‘Of course!’ I thought, an already long journey would now become a much longer one. After an hour the tire was still not fixed so another (yet older) bus picked us up and we were on our way.
On the bus they provided some entertainment (vintage Serbian movies from the 70’s), but Christian and I kept ourselves entertained listening to music and talking about the wedding. Its known that Serbian weddings are quite unique. They include certain traditions and customs that make them stand out from other weddings. For example, the custom of ‘buying’ the bride (when the groom pays the brother in exchange to marry her) is still practiced by some to this day.
The bus ride continued on and despite it being many hours long, in the end it wasn’t that bad. I, of course got no sleep but I was able to witness a beautiful Serbian sunrise.
We arrived to the house and were greeted warmly by the family. Everyone was hectic setting up last minute wedding stuff so we made our way to the town centre. In the centre I noticed many stray dogs. They are quite common in Serbia, so unfortunately they don’t always get the attention they deserve. We were greeted by one dog though who literally melted my heart. He followed us around all day and I wanted so badly to rub his belly and take him home with me but I could tell he was scratching a lot and most likely had flees.
We were informed that Serbian weddings go all day long, with many weddings lasting three days. Due to the extreme heat though we were happy that in this case, it was just for one day.
9 am: Everyone in the grooms party gathers outside the groom’s house holding hands and dancing a traditional Serbian dance.
After a morning of dancing, the groom’s party all gathered to eat a meal ( mainly consisting of meats, cheeses and breads). At the same time the groom had his party, the bride was having her own at her family home.
It is tradition for the groom to show up at the brides house bringing her her wedding dress ( and its at this time he “buys” his bride off the family). So after the big meal everyone got into cars and drove to the next village to meet the bride and her party.
When we arrived at the bride’s home everyone continued to dance while live music was playing. Everyone waited in anticipation to see the bride in her dress. I could tell the groom was getting nervous as she made him wait for quite a long time.
Finally the bride came out of the house and there was cheering and chanting from the 400 plus people who had gathered outside the house.
Shortly after, the two got onto a horse drawn carriage and made their way to the church.
The ceremony in the church was very beautiful and traditionally orthodox. They wore crowns during the ceremony and then took them off at the end (although traditionally they are suppose to wear the crowns for up to a week after the wedding). The crowns are a visual representation of the crowns that wait for them in heaven. A more immediate representation is that they have become the king and queen of their own family.
After the ceremony everyone retreated back to the reception hall where lots of food and drinks awaited us (and of course more dancing). It was a wild night of partying until 3 am, and by the time we got home we were all danced out.
Overall it was a great day and we felt honoured to be a part of such a beautiful ceremony. It made me think about the ideas of weddings and the traditions associated with them. I would love to attend other traditional weddings and learn more about their customs.
If you get the chance to attend a Serbian wedding I suggest doing it- it is quite the unique experience!