Current Location: Past Events > Polish Wedding
Party June 2011
WSDPAHS’s Third Annual Summer Social Event:
‘60s Polish Wedding Party Jeszcze Raz (“One More Time”)!
Saturday Evening, June 25, 2011
American Legion Carl E. Stitt Post 232 – Dearborn Heights, MI
Was a Smashing Success
By Laurie A.
Oh, what a night!
The music of Big Daddy Lackowski and His La-De-Da’s Polka Band was the
featured highlight of the West Side Detroit Polish American Historical
Society’s Third Annual Summer Social Event and just one of the attractions
of its second ‘60s Polish Wedding Party held on the gorgeous summer evening
of June 25, 2011, at the American Legion Carl E. Stitt Post 232 at 23850
Military Road in Dearborn Heights. The event was totally groovy and
a smashing success!
Two years ago the
Society held its unprecedented ‘60s Polish Wedding Party at St. Aidan’s
social hall in Livonia, and the event was so popular that the Board decided
to bring it back this year by popular demand. There is nothing quite as
traditional as a Polish wedding, and during the ‘60s weddings were at their
peak in the Polish neighborhoods in Detroit. Live polka bands, big Polish
dinners, and emphasis on family and revered customs were hallmarks of the
wedding receptions. To capture and preserve this part of our heritage, the
West Side Detroit Polish American Historical Society decided to recreate one
night in the 1960s and to restage a “wedding reception” with a “bride and
groom” and bridal party “attendants.”
This year’s bridal
party couples were all members of the Society, and all of them were married
in the 1960s. They were Joe and Georgia Hawrylak (married August 13, 1960,
at St. Christopher Catholic Church in Detroit), Joe and Mary Kay Gromala
(married August 14, 1965, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Norwalk,
Connecticut), John and Mary LaDrigue (married August 21, 1965, at Our Lady
of Grace Catholic Church in Dearborn), Mike and Liz Poterala (married
February 4, 1961, at Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Detroit), and Don
and Chris Unwin (married February 1, 1964, at Our Lady Queen of Angels
Catholic Church in Detroit).
There was much
emphasis placed on customs and traditions at Polish weddings back in the
1940s, ‘50s, and ‘60s, and those customs and traditions were carried over to
America from Poland. They originated in the Polish countryside and evolved
in American cities. These beautiful customs and traditions included the
blessing of the bride in the home as she knelt before her mother and
received her mother’s benediction as a live band performed the traditional
Serdeczna Matko, or “Dearest Mother.” As the bride then emerged from
the home onto the porch, the band performed the traditional Polish Wedding
March, Troska Porodina (“Longing for Home”), also known as Marsz
Weselny. This is a Ukrainian march and has come to be known as both the
“Ukrainian Wedding March” and the “Polish Wedding March.” Over the years,
the title became Anglicized by Polish Americans as Na Porciu (“On the
The band also
played the Polish national anthem as the bride emerged. This was a signal
to the entire neighborhood that there was a Polish wedding taking place in
the neighborhood, and it was not uncommon for neighbors to emerge from their
surrounding homes at this time and to stand in reverence with their hands
over their hearts as the anthem was played.
When the bride and
groom entered the reception hall, the band performed the traditional Po
Ślubie (“After the Ceremony”), also known as Po Weselu (“After
the Wedding”). At this time, it was not uncommon for wedding reception
attendees to insert dollar bills into the F-holes of the stand-up string
bass as they entered the hall, which later were shaken out and divided up
among the musicians.
As the bridal party
entered the hall, the cook came from the kitchen with a tray containing
bread and salt, with which she would bless the bridal party. The
traditional blessing, “Aby Wam go nigdy nie brakowało!” (“May you
never be without”) was proclaimed by the parents.
At the Society’s
‘60s Polish Wedding Party, these customs were recreated. Once everyone had
arrived, the “bridal party” was escorted out of the hall and then led back
in as Big Daddy and His La-De-Da Orchestra performed the traditional Polish
Wedding March. The blessing with bread and salt was then recreated and the
“bridal party” took their seats at the head table.
Milewski, Chancellor-Emeritus of the Orchard Lake Schools and a WSDPAHS
member, blessed the “newlyweds” and wished them many long years of happiness
together, much to the delight and stifled laughter of the wedding party
guests. He then blessed the food and all enjoyed a meal prepared by Halina,
our cook, that consisted of chicken noodle soup (rosół), another
long-standing tradition of Polish-American weddings, stuffed cabbage (gołąbki),
city chicken (patyczki), chicken (kurczak), green salad with
ranch and Italian dressing (sałatka), cole slaw, green beans with
mushrooms (fasola i grzyby), mashed potatoes & gravy (źiemniaki i
sos), au gratin potatoes (źiemniaki i ser), sauerkraut (kapusta),
bread & butter (chleb i mazło), and wedding cake (kolacz Weselny).
Music and dancing
continued throughout the evening and at 9:00 we held the “Grand March” and
Oczepiny (“Unveiling”). The Grand March traditionally was led by the
orchestra leader and took place at midnight. It signified a new day, when
the bride and groom became man and wife. During the performance of
Oczepiny, the bride’s veil was ceremoniously removed by one of the
bridesmaids and it was passed to each bridesmaid to wear on her head as she
danced with her partner for a few measures of dancing.
played during a 1960s wedding reception were Jak Szybko Mijają Chwile
(“How Quickly Time Passes”), “Daddy’s Little Girl,” Tatusiu
(“Daddy’s”) Waltz, “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” and “Anniversary Waltz.”
Big Daddy’s trumpet player Jack Wolak did a fabulous job leading the Grand
March, and everyone had a blast forming a chain that wound throughout the
reception hall. Later, Big Daddy led everyone in the traditional “Chicken
Dance,” which progressively got faster and faster and was hilarious!
This year’s ‘60s
Polish Wedding Party committee included Laurie A. Gomulka, Bob Bielenda,
Alina Klin, Ph.D., Adam R. Lis, Rev. Gary Michalik, Aleksandra (Sandy)
Porter, Rev. Walter Ptak, Pamela Rupinski, Leonard Skowronski, and Richard
Sokolowski. Cakes were provided by Sisters Cakery on West Warren Ave. in
Detroit. Special thanks are extended to Esther Dasin, aunt of Mary LaDrigue,
who hand-made the bridesmaids’ headpieces; to Mary LaDrigue, who helped with
all the table favors; to Larry Choraszewski, who helped with the hall
set-up; to Mike Poterala, who helped promote our event; to Msgr. Stanley E.
Milewski; to Chuck Roeske of Stitt Post; and to Halina and family for the
wonderful meal. The Society also thanks our friends, patrons and
advertisers who supported us by sponsoring our event with ads in our
The Society is
grateful to all who put forth an effort to make this year’s event the
success that it was, and we look forward to our next “totally” social event!