Sunday, June 18, 2006

Serbian Wedding, Part II: The Bride's House

As soon as we arrived and got out of the cars, the accordions started up (of course).

When the groom's party arrives at the bride's house, there is a tradition that the groom must shoot an apple placed somewhere in the yard by the bride's family before being allowed inside. Sometimes they put it in a tricky spot, like on top of the house or up in a tree (how difficult the shot is supposedly relates to how much the bride's family likes the groom). In this case, there was no apple - the groom simply greeted the bride's family at the gate, and they let us in.

We followed the garden path conga line-style, getting pinned with corsages on the way. The line wound its way up to the balcony, where we were once again offered drinks (vino, pivo, rakija?) and pečenje (roasted meat). At this point the bride's brother and the groom's brother began negotiating the price of the bride.

That's right, we were there to buy the bride. While this was once a serious transaction, it's now done very much in the spirit of tradition and good fun. The negotiations were heated, with much waving around of money and arguing, and at one point the groom's brother pretended to walk away, saying "She's too expensive. Let's go." They were all trying really hard to keep straight faces. I just laughed and laughed.

Throughout the negations, the bride was kept inside the house. I've heard that sometimes the groom will arrange with the bride in advance to "steal" her. While the groom is distracting the family, his friends sneak around back and take the bride. In this case, the groom was honest and paid up. The first offer was for 10 euros, and the last offer I heard was for 40 or 50 euros, but I didn't hear the final price they settled on. Once they came to an agreement, the bride was produced and there was much drinking, celebrating, and ooh ahhing over how beautiful she looked. Gifts were exchanged (including jewelry for the bride from the groom's mother and sister) and the groom shot off a full clip into the air (and later his mother would do the same). Does anyone have statistics on wedding day tragedies resulting from celebratory gun shooting gone wrong?

We sat for a while drinking and eating (Dan and I were pleased to discover that many people spoke English) before climbing back into the cars and heading to the opština (city hall) for the first of two ceremonies. It was 11:30 AM, we were already full of roasted meat and home made liquor, and we still had 12 hours of wedding ahead of us.

From here I'm going to throw the ball into Dan's court - he was there too and he should get to write about it. So you can read about the ceremonies and the reception at The Native Speaker, although maybe not until after Wednesday.


Anonymous said...

Hi There...I was reading about Serbian OLD wedding customs and I had no idea they still shoot an apple out of a tree! That is hysterical. I have to read on to the ceremony and do you get to it? I followed the link but did not see anything there at your friends site. Please send links to Thank you!

Meaghan said...

Well, I'm not sure how many people still shoot the apple at Serbian weddings - as I mentioned in the post, there was gunfire at this wedding, but it was directed skyward and not at anything in particular.

A few commenters have mentioned other wedding traditions that I didn't write about here - that's simply because this is an account of the one wedding I attended in Serbia, and not a complete list of all Serbian wedding traditions.

I'm sad to say Dan never got around to finishing up the wedding commentary - too busy with the move back to the States and starting a new job!