****** You all know my blogs can be long winded… but this account is also for Voy and his family who weren't able to make it over for the wedding… so enjoy the details! ******
For those of you who read the blogs about my previous Poland trip, you'll know it was 10 special days for me. Two months ago, I visited Kraków on the recommendation of Voy, a friend from work in Australia. Apart from it being just a truly beautiful and captivating city, one of the best things that came out of that visit, was meeting Voy's very good friend Andrzej and his fiancé Karolina. I had been told that they were some of the nicest people I would ever meet, and that assessment was definitely spot on! I met these two, only a couple of times over the ten days, and within that time they had decided that I had to come back in October to attend their wedding… especially since Voy wouldn't be able to attend. So, after conferring with my parents, who were due to visit me the weekend of the wedding, they decided to come with me to Krakow for two days, and I had the joy of telling Karolina and Andy that I could attend their wedding.
So, Mum and Dad arrived in the Netherlands on the Thursday afternoon, and we took it easy for the first day, just with family and walking around town. The Friday evening, we went to Eindhoven airport for our flight, which ended up being delayed by over 2 hours. We finally arrived in Krakow at almost 2am, and were welcomed by the gorgeous Basia (9 months pregnant, due any day) who's apartment I'd rented last time I'd come. But it was straight to sleep for my heavily jetlagged parents and me.
At around 1pm the next day after a morning of walking around with my parents (there's another blog about that!), it was time for me to get ready. I put on my fancy party dress, applied make-up, and put on some comfy shoes to get me to the church (high-heels would go once there!). We walked to the Franciscan Church and Monastery where the ceremony was to be held, and Mum and Dad stayed while I waited for Agata (one of the friend's I'd met last time I was here, and the only person I knew at the wedding apart from the bride and groom). It's always nice knowing at least one person… and you get to know more as the day goes on. I got to see the bride and groom before the ceremony, they were waiting for some photos before it started. Karolina looked absolutely stunning with a long beaded white gown with thin straps and her hair up in loose curls. Andy was in the traditional black suit, and scrubbed up very well. And refreshingly, he's one of those guys who bursts with love, pride and happiness whenever he looks at Karolina. They were so relaxed and happy, that we as guests, couldn't do anything but follow suit.
The church dates back to the 13th century, so is ornately and beautifully decorated with lots of wood. The ceremony itself was at the high alter and guests were able to sit in the arranged chairs and the choir pews. Though there were a few of us who didn't fit, so sat in the next section back. When Karolina entered and took the long walk down the aisle, she met her groom-to-be between the two sections, and we were all able to share in that special moment with them, before they walked up to the front together and sat in their special chairs. The ceremony was obviously in Polish, so I and a few other foreigners (other travellers that A&K have met over their travelling years) couldn't follow the words. However, being brought up in the Catholic faith, I was amazingly still able to follow some of the songs/hymns/call-and-responses, I knew when to say Amen and even when to shake hands for the 'sign of peace'.
The ceremony was about 45 minutes, with a sole female singer whose voice was perfectly set to the large open space of the church. It was incredible. Though, the one thing that amazed me the whole time was that people were coming and going… not the wedding guests of course, but tourists and strangers who were there to see the church. Two in travelling coats even sat down in free chairs that were set up for the wedding. I just couldn't believe it. I'd be mortified if I accidentally walked into a wedding. But the tourists came and went, took photos and awww-ed and oooh-ed with the rest of us. It was a beautiful ceremony though and Karolina and Andy had eyes only for each other.
After the ceremony, everyone got to congratulate the new bride and groom, hand over cards and smaller gifts and take photos. Even having met me only two or three times, they were so happy that I was there, I felt very lucky and blessed to have met them, and to have been able to share this day with them, in place of their Aussie friend Voy. My parents came to pick up my DSLR camera so I didn't have to carry it and I got the 'don't drink too much' speech… I promised them that I would just try not to mix drinks… because we all know it goes badly when that happens. We all then walked the 200m to the Hotel across the square for the reception… for the party to get started.
At the entrance, we were handed a glass of champagne with a strawberry, drank a toast to the bride and groom, before they threw their glass flutes connected by ribbon over their shoulders to smash on the hotel foyer floor. Good luck to the couple! We made our way to our seats and were immediately set upon by waiters asking if we wanted red or white wine. And not 5 minutes later… the first bottle of vodka was opened to drink a proper Polish toast to the couple of the hour. So much for not mixing my drinks… I was only there for 10 minutes and I'd had three types. The table settings were lovely, fresh and white with some silver and green here and there, and I had to laugh at the glasses set out… 3 types of wine/champagne along with a shot glass for the regular toasts. Can't imagine many other countries having shot glasses on their wedding tables. The vodka was always followed by a glass of juice (orange, apple, black currant… your choice), so at least the drinking was semi-responsible… even if the number of vodka bottles seemed endless.
The food was incredible, a pâté vol-au-vent entrée with poached apples, a beef consommé soup, the main course was a seriously delicious dish of pork medallions wrapped in bacon with marinated carrots, with a perfect crème brûlée for dessert. And after a certain time they opened the buffet area for those who were still hungry to nibble away while they continued to drink their vodka.
Andy and Karolina came to chat with our table a fair amount which was great. The best man Szczepan, a friend of Andy's from childhood, whose girlfriend Vita was the maid-of-honour, were also extremely friendly and came to chat with us lots as well, as their friend Raj from America being seated between Agata and myself for the night. So, the whole table became good friends within the hour! Lots of laughing, dancing, drinking and eating!
Before it got too late, Andy, Karolina and I Skyped Voy in Australia to bring him and his wife and daughter, some of the wedding party action. And before long, about ten of us were yelling drunkenly at my phone screen as Voy killed himself laughing at the other end. But it was great for everyone.
The dancing was of course awesome too, with the bride and groom's first dance and the craziness of vodka-fuelled party-ers! The rest of the evening, was a fun-filled blur of cake cutting, wedding traditions involving garter belts, photos, slide shows, dancing and of course vodka. Every bit, as fun as I'd been told to expect.
I was somehow able to leave at about 2am in a state that even allowed me to walk the 15 minutes home. My mother even noticed I wasn't falling over my feet when I came in the door. So good work to me! J All in all, a beautiful weekend and wedding. My parents and I spent the next day wandering around the city again and I was so glad to have shared it with them.
Thank you Andy and Karolina for a beautiful weekend, and I wish the two of you all the happiness in the world as you start married life together.