Trumpeters, Buklia, Folklore dancing and singing, ikebana flowers, rosemary for wedding guests, apple shooting, sieve throwing, “buy the bride”…. Just a few words that can describe the atmosphere of Serbian wedding. Oh, sure – plentiful menu, we should not skip such important characteristic of Serbian wedding! A lot of Serbs get married while respecting national and religious traditions. They don’t let these wonderful customs sink into oblivion.
A couple of weeks earlier: Preparation for Serbian Big Day
Buklia is a nice decorated bottle filled with homemade Wine or Rakija (traditional fruit brandy). Buklia is used to invite guests to the wedding, like a formal invitation. Young man, usually the groom’s cousin, carries around this Buklia, by visiting the homes of those who are invited to the wedding.
Decoration is an indispensable entertainment, enjoyed by both old and young. Both the bride and the groom’s house are decorated with flowers, balloons, ribbons, etc. The door or gate of the house is especially well decorated.
The folk costume came back into fashion in a big way. In the old days, a bride and groom are dressed in national costumes (folklore garments) for their Big Day. The Serbian folk costume, whether it is male or female, includes several parts. Here are a few components: Opanci (handcrafted traditional peasant footwear), hand embroidered shirts, Tkanica (men’s belt), Jelek (a short women’s vest), Sajkaca (Serbian national men’s hat) and so on. Nowadays, a large number of the newlyweds opt for a nice old-fashioned Folk Costume instead of trendy Wedding dresses and Groom Tuxedos and Suits.
According to tradition: Wedding Guests and Wedding Ceremony
Kum is the best man at a wedding. To be the best man is a great honor, this offer should not be refused. The most important guests at any wedding in Serbia are the Best Man and the Bridesman. This tradition is kept today, in slightly altered form. The “old godfather” custom (which is transmitted from generation to generation) is strictly respected by the Serbian people. Although today, the groom sometimes can choose a new best man. It is usually his best friend.
Svatovi are the wedding guests. The wedding ceremony begins early in the morning. Firstly, wedding guests come to the groom’s house. Then, they all go together to the bride’s house.
Like the past: Buying the bride, Apple Shooting, Wedding bouquet throwing
The custom known as “buying the bride” is used today for fun. This means that the groom „buys“ the bride from the groom’s brother. Once upon a time, the bride was really purchased with large amounts of money or gold. In 1846., Serbian Prince Alexander Karadjordjevic issued an order: asking for and giving money and gold for the girl is abolished, as a custom that is contrary to the human dignity. Nowadays, it’s just a joke, a way to calm the jitters.
There is one more custom that is still practiced in rural areas, known as “Apple Shooting“. An apple is hanged, in the courtyard of the bride’s house, on the top of the tree. The groom has to shoot the apple. Only when he takes off the apple from the tree, he is allowed to enter the bride’s house.
After that, the wedding procession goes to the wedding ceremony. Whether they go to church or the municipal building, wedding guests form an entertaining column of cars. Decorated Wedding car leads a column of cars, and you can hear the car horns which announce big ceremony.
After the wedding ceremony, the bride indiscriminately throws the bouquet over her shoulder, and single girls are supposed to catch it. The girl who catches the bouquet is the lucky one – she is going to be the next bride!
In addition, godparents throw metal coins around, in front of the church, which is supposed to symbolize prosperity for newlyweds, in their future married life.
Autumn is the best time for Serbian Weddings
After the wedding ceremony, the celebration goes on, with Folklore dancing and singing, a lot of food and drink. At the celebration, there are many customs. Cutting the wedding cake symbolizes the union of the young couple. Stealing the bride’s shoes by a child is a funny and cute custom.
At the end of the celebration, when newlyweds go home, the groom must carry the bride over the doorstep. It’s a Pagan custom of the ancient Slavs. According to the belief, the spirits of ancestors are living in the doorstep of each house, protecting the household and family members. Groom carries her over the threshold by respecting their ancestors.
Traditionally, weddings in Serbia are mainly organized in the autumn period. The custom was established at the time when life was subordinated to rural activities. Field works are finished in the fall, after the harvest. Then, people are able to celebrate.
This is a brief overview of Serbian weddings. To create the real impression, you need to see, to smell, you need to experience it for yourself. If you get an invitation to the Serbian wedding, don’t miss it!
Traditional Wedding Menu in Serbia
There is an old Serbian folk saying: “It’s better to sell the country, rather than lose traditions.” Traditions and customs of a nation, in addition to language and religion, are important keepers of the ethnic identity of a community. The most common and best-known Serbian traditions are related to the life cycle, including the wedding.
The most important feature of Serbian wedding is “a ton of food “! There is a lot of food, particularly meat, and beverages, especially Serbian traditional Rakija (type of brandy) and Wine.
Traditional wedding etiquette in Serbia
In the morning, when receiving guests at bridegroom’s house, and then at the bride’s home, the hosts usually set up the buffet table. Here, you can find bakery products, sweet biscuits, canapes, croissants, small muffins, bagels and similar delicacies. Thereafter, the newlyweds and guests go to a wedding ceremony, in a church.
After the wedding ceremony in the church, the guests go to the Wedding Luncheon. According to Serbian tradition, the dining hall is a Wedding Tent instead of the restaurant or hotel. According to the custom, the Serbs prefer to organize big weddings, so the tent is a perfect solution. What kind of food Serbs serve at traditional wedding? A lot of roast lamb and pork are required, as well as boiled cabbage (with several types of meat). Spit-cooked beef meat is served mainly in rural areas.
The rule is this: The Best man, the Bridesman, Dever (brother-in-law) and Barjaktar (a cousin who carries decorated flag as a symbol of happy marriage), should sit down at the table together with the newlyweds. The other wedding guests sit at several long tables.
The Wedding Luncheon is composed of several parts: 1) an appetizer, 2) a soup, 3) a main dish, 4) roast or grilled meatgrill and 5) a lot of cakes. This is the sit down meal.
Here are several examples of Serbian traditional wedding menu
- The classic menu
- Cold Appetizer
Njeguska prsuta and Uzicka prsuta (homemade prosciutto), homemade pork sausage, stuffed eggs, Russian Salad, Ham and cheese bread rolls, Kajmak (traditional dairy Product).
- Vegetable Potage or veal soup the Serbian way.
- A warm appetizer
Sarma (a dish made of cabbage, minced meat and rice) or Stuffed peppers (dried peppers are used).
- Main Course
Mixed meat roast (lamb, pork, veal), Potatoes on Serbian way (fat from roasted meat is topped), cooked vegetables. Mixed salad and chili peppers.
- A modern menu with a touch of tradition
- Cold Appetizer known as “Mladenacka zakuska “
Beef ham, Homemade prosciutto, Serbian cheese (semi soft cheese), Hard cheese (e.g. Iriski, Sjenicki), chicken salad, Leskovacki urnebes (cream cheese with red paprika pepper), Proja (type of corn-bread).
- Hot veal soup.
- Main Course
Any roast-meat or barbecue, side dishes, seasonal salads. The second choice is: Pork Medallions in mushroom sauce.
- Lepinja (Serbian flatbread).
- Wedding Cake and several other cakes.
Wedding cake and symbolism
Bride’s mother purchases wedding cake, according to an old custom. When the wedding cake is spectacularly presented, the bride and groom cut together the first piece of cake. The bride gives the groom first bite from this piece, making a mess around his mouth! Then, the groom has to do the same thing to her. Then, they should kiss each other. They wipe their mouths by kisses! Funny and silly! This custom symbolizes the happiness of married life. The married life should be sweet like cakes!
There are different cakes, at Serbian weddings. Usually, female wedding guests bring cakes. They are sisters, aunts and other closest relatives.
And so, with food, with drinks and toasts, Serbian wedding lasts until the early morning hours. Sometimes, Serbian wedding may last for a few days!
Surely, we may conclude, the respect of marriage is deeply rooted in the Serbian tradition.