Macedonian Wedding

Though not solely culinary, a Macedonian wedding is an adventure, to say the least. I have never even been to a Slovenian wedding (except when we were bride and groom at the pretend wedding), so as you can imagine, going straight to a Macedonian one has been quite a shock. In addition to a Macedonian wedding being overwhelming in itself, my boyfriend was the “dever” (a kind of best man) which meant that I, as his girlfriend, also had an important role in the wedding (which I was not aware of until we arrived but I think I managed to pull it of just fine).

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{On our way to pick up the bride in our daytime outfits}

My preparations for the wedding started by getting my nails, hair and make up done. I had my two outfits picked out a few weeks before that (yes, two outfits – one for the day part and one for the evening part of the wedding – a dream come true for us girls who like to dress up). Meanwhile (and months in advance of course) the families of the bride and groom were getting their homes ready for the guests to arrive. As I learned later on, they both hired catering companies, but not for the preparation of the food – grandmas, mothers, aunts and family friends were in charge of all the baking; the catering companies only covered the plating and table decorations.

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{A bride needs to be picked up by the prettiest car possible}

Since my boyfriend was the “dever”, we were invited to take part from the beginning which meant the wedding started at 11.30 a.m. for us by coming over to the groom’s house to “celebrate a little”, as the groom would say. Well, this little celebration was far from little. Tables were barely holding up underneath all the food – all sorts and shapes of homemade bread, bread sticks, bread rolls, yellow cheese, ham, salami, chocolates and of course alcohol. Dever and his date got to sit at the main table with the groom and his parents.The band was playing traditional Macedonian songs, people were dancing, drinking, congratulating the family of the groom and overall just being happy.

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{A small part of what we were offered at the groom’s house}

After a few dances and a lot of food, we took of to a neighboring town to pick up the bride. As you can imagine, we came to a similar setting, maybe even a bigger table full of food, as if they were trying to outdo the groom’s parents (even though they haven’t seen what the parents of the groom have prepared at their house). Again, endless plates of bread, cheese, ham, different spreads, chocolates, cakes and fruits. And of course alcohol. The parents of the groom, the groom, “dever” and his date and some of the closest members of the groom’s family were invited to sit at the main table to eat and drink.

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{At the bride’s house}

All the food at both houses was really delicious. They both served (among others):
– “kiflicki” which I mentioned in my post on Macedonian cuisine (and for which I will be posting a recipe soon);
– “kashkaval” – a type of yellow cheese made of cow milk, sheep milk, or both. The name is derived from the Italian caciocavallo. In Albania, Bulgaria, Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Romania, the term is often used to refer to all yellow cheeses.
– “kulen” –  a type of flavoured sausage made of minced pork. The meat is low-fat, rather brittle and dense, and the flavour is spicy with the hot red paprika bringing it aroma and colour, and garlic for additional spice. The original kulen recipe does not contain black pepper; its hot flavour comes from the paprika.
– roasted peanuts – as you could see in my previous post, Macedonians are big fans of roasted nuts and dried fruits to nibble on while walking the streets and apparently also at weddings.

There are many traditions not involving food as well, such as the “buying of the bride” in which the dever has to pay the sister and girlfriends of the bride to allow him to enter the room. This is immediately followed by the “shoe ceremony” in which the dever brings the shoes to the bride and she tries them to see if they fit. Of course, without some money stuffed in them, they don’t. After that, the groom can finally see the bride, we exchange gifts (I got a really lovely necklace by the way), dance and leave for the church. Come to think of it, the dance part is actually a great thing for all of you that are counting the calories even at special occasions. Each meal or, better said, each bite, is followed by a round or two of oro, so you burn the calories as you go.

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{Bride’s bouquet, flowers on bride’s door, flower decoration for “dever’s” date and table decoration}

The church ceremony was also something completely new for me. It involves crowns and rings, but also some food – a loaf of bread and red wine, brought to church by the parents of the groom. The “pop” dips a chunk of bread into a glass of wine and feeds them to the groom, bride, “dever” and kum. This is followed by a sip of red wine (or if you are a dever, which means you come up last, an entire glass of wine). After that they all make three circles around the altar and small bags of candy, roasted chickpeas (“leblebija” – see my previous post for more info) and money are thrown after them. The children then run around and compete to collect as many bags as possible.

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{bags of candy, roasted chickpeas (leblebija) and money}

At this point the guests are given about an hour of time to go home, change into their evening gowns and come back for the dinner and party. It all takes place in a large dance hall with tables (by the way, the hall in which this wedding took place could hold around 250 – 280 people which is considered a small hall and a small wedding), with a long bride and groom’s table in the center and large round tables on both sides, the center of the room being empty and ready for 200 people to dance oro.

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{the “small” dance hall}

As far as the evening part of the wedding is concerned, though it is much bigger than the ones in Slovenia (like I said, 270 guests are considered a small wedding) and there are many more indoor venue options, the choices regarding meals are much more restricted. While you can pretty much order anything you want here in Slovenia (and the bride and groom spend quite some time driving around, tasting different menus and lastly base their decision about the venue on the menu), it seems like in Macedonia the choice of venue is mostly influenced by the number of guests, while the choice of food is more or less the same everywhere – they mostly offer this standard meal:
– mixed salad (beetroots, carrots, cabbage, green lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes),
– cold platter of mixed cheese and ham,
– main course containing natural chicken and pork steak, mushroom sauce, baked potatoes and rice.

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{dinner menu}

Each meal is unnoticeably served while the entire room of people is dancing oro, a circular dance, to traditional Macedonian songs for the bride, groom, dever, kum and the parents of the newlyweds. The problem is, that most people don’t even realize their meal has been served so a lot of food stays unnoticed and therefore not eaten. They do stop the music for the main course so that everyone can sit down and enjoy their meal.

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{wedding cakes}

Another interesting tradition is that the wedding cake(s) is (are) a gift from certain guests. Consequently, a cake is placed on the bride and groom’s table, with a small note saying who the cake is from. This also means that as a rule, there will be more than one cake per wedding. The cutting of the cake and the throwing of a bouquet are the same as in our weddings but are followed by some more oro. The wedding ended at 1 a.m. (so after more than 13 hours!) with all the guests, especially the ones who were there from the start, being quite tired. Oh, lets not forget about the last tradition – the “dever” gets to take some cake home. But by “some cake” I of course don’t mean a piece or two like you would get at a family birthday. Some cake is half a cake!

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{in our evening gowns after a long and successful wedding}

Good luck to the newlyweds and to many, many years! ❤

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One thought on “Macedonian Wedding

  1. Pingback: Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies {for Breakfast} | Ursalicious

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