I come from Poland and what comes to my mind when thinking of “getting married” or a “wedding” is hours, days, weeks, months of planning, preparations, stress and anxiety. Don’t get me wrong, I never thought marriage is bad, but just the process of getting married alone seems like a lot of trouble.
Weddings in Poland are a big thing for the whole family. It is not so much a ceremony to celebrate you deciding to be with your partner, but celebrating a new person entering your family. So it is not a day for the couple to-be-married, but a day for the whole family.
And so it all starts by this little innocent act of proposal. Then you need to decide a place and date of your wedding and book some place for it, which gives you more or less an idea on how much time you have to plan the rest. Obviously, everyone wants to get married in the prettiest church and have the best place for the wedding as well. Some more religious people would also want a specific priest to do their ceremony. After that’s settled, you need a guest list. And here in play comes Polish pettiness. You cannot invite uncle A, if you don’t invite uncle B, because they stay in touch and they would know and it doesn’t matter if you have met uncle B only once when you were born so you don’t even know his full name. If you invite a person, invitation extends to their partner and also kids, as the kids are most welcomed to weddings, no matter how much alcohol will there be.
Alcohol, right. Polish weddings are killers for both your liver and stomach. To survive a typical Polish wedding you need to know how to dose. First of all, after you eat the typical soup+main dish dinner, don’t go all crazy on cakes, because this is not the last meal of the night. Even more so, a proper wedding in Poland will have you get a new hot dish every couple hours to keep your stomach full for dancing and vodka drinking to come. And there is a lot of drinking and dancing. If you hang around long enough, there is a high chance you will get the “pleasure” of dancing with some drunk uncle by the end of the night.
P. and I came to Poland for a wedding of my friend back in July 2016 and it was a bit light version of the typical Polish wedding. It took place in a cute church in a smaller city in Poland and the wedding party was in a beautiful hotel/winery with great old-style atmosphere. It was a great experience, but P. got defeated by one thing that has actually been planned by my friend’s mother (i.e. more traditional person) – amount of food. Having a room in the hotel where the party took place, we would run up for small breaks to miss next meal “by accident” but every time we came back down, the meal would magically appear in front of us.
The food amount was horrifying to P. and I thought it’s because of different culture, until this one dinner not long after we moved to Hong Kong. Chinese typical dinners are exact same thing as the “food roll” on Polish weddings, minus those few hours between the dishes. During Chinese dinner (and that means dinner in typical Chinese-style restaurant), one meal is served after another. The only break is for people to clean up the plate before it gets exchanged with another. While during Polish wedding, it is expected of you to burn calories from one meal while dancing and having fun on the party, during Chinese dinner you are seated the whole time.
But going back to weddings. Knowing about the huge effort that planning a wedding takes, we decided to go easy on that and decided to do the least required to become a married couple. Here is how P. and I got married.
We went to Shatin Marriage Registry to book a time for getting married one month in advance. We had to show our passports and immigration stamp (only me), as I was still only a “visitor”. Booking time during a week is way cheaper, but we decided on a weekend, which made us pay 1000 HKD more. I had my mom coming with me to Hong Kong before the date scheduled for our wedding, and as the rest of my family couldn’t fly in, we decided to keep it discreet and have only our moms attend. We remembered that we don’t have rings one day before the ceremony so we run to jewellery shop close to our house and bought them in any size available.
On the day of our wedding, we almost overslept, but my mom was staying with us and made us wake up and “prepare”. We actually didn’t have anything to prepare at all, as P. just jumped into his suit and I put on a white dress I bought in Seattle few months before that was just too cute to leave alone in the shop.
We took a cab to Shatin and went to do the ceremony, which we did not expect to look as it did. The oath we read was in old English and quite difficult to read, but made us feel very official. We had a few photos taken by P.’s brother-in-law who owns really good camera and we took a bus home forgetting that it’s actually our wedding day.
In the evening we ate dinner with the whole family of P. in a German food restaurant to fit my mom’s taste – the only person there who do not prefer Asian style food.
After that day – 23rd of April 2017, we were legally married. Two weeks later we got our wedding rings resized as well, and few months later P. actually started wearing it.
Conclusion: getting married in Hong Kong is way easier when it comes to paperwork, but wedding party is way better the Polish style, if you just do not mind the planning and stressing part. In the end it’s definitely well worth it.
I wish to write more about typical HK style wedding party, but at this points I am waiting to participate in one myself first (go, sister-in-law, go!).