Weddings in Macedonia are composed of several important rituals, so important that these rites are not treated lightly. Some of the very important rituals are looking through the ring and the dowry. Usually almost the entire village will come and make donations for the wedding, which starts on a Thursday night. The customs in the Old Country and in America are somewhat related, although some rituals done in America have been blended with the traditional customs and in some cases, have been partly omitted.
The members of the Macedonian wedding reception are the same as in America, except for the Nunko and Nunka or the godparents. These 2 are also important persons in the ceremony, with the Nunko performing more than the best man counterpart in Western weddings. The Nunko is given the authority to supervise the arrangements of the wedding; and he may also have the authority to decide when and where the wedding should take place. He is also expected to help with the costs of the wedding, with some Nunkos giving as much as $1,000 to the father of the bride. He also brings the biggest gift.
The Day before the Wedding
Macedonian weddings are traditionally held on Sundays. So Saturday, the day before the wedding, is the day when the wedding cake (koluk) is made. This is a yeast cake, sweet, large (2 ft. in diameter) and the recipe is almost similar to the Easter bread recipe (kosunak).
The guests to the wedding are invited also on this day and they get invited with a band. In small villages, everyone can come to the wedding, as it is easy to make preparations for them. However, in larger towns of six thousand to seven thousand people, not everyone gets invited.
The Wedding Day
On the morning of Sunday, the wedding day, one of the duties of the Nunko is the shaving of the groom, who is not allowed to shave himself. The groom is supposed to be very nervous on the wedding day and might cut himself in the process, so the Nunko comes to his house and does this for him. This shaving ritual is also the groom’s last opportunity to be with his male friends in bachelor status.
The bride, in the old country, wore the traditional Macedonian wedding costume, but in most of the weddings done today and also in America, it is quite different. She is wearing a Western style white wedding gown and has a small bouquet in her hands.
As the bride leaves the house of her parents, a sad song is sung that makes the mother and the elder relatives cry. Another tradition observed while the bride goes down the stairs is the pouring of a glass of water on the steps by the mother of the bride. This will symbolize the transition of the bride from the care of her parents to her new life as a wife. The water also signifies the wish that her life flow as smooth as the flow of the water.
On the way to the church, it is believed to bring good luck to the bride and the groom if they make a series of turns to the right in going to the church.
After the service, the guests will be greeted by the wedding party outside the church. Rice will be thrown on the couple as a sign of fertility. There will be a sit down dinner for relatives and close friends after the service and usually after several hours, the reception follows. This will be attended by all guests. At this moment, the Nunko will start the dance with the bread and he will be joined by the couple and soon by the other guests. An important dance is the hard dance (Teskoto) which reminds the couple of the struggles of the past. Then as usual the toast is also raised in honor of the couple.
The above is a clear and brief idea of how a Macedonian wedding is performed. Certain customs are obviously lost for some reasons, however, some rituals only changed or there has been some addition of some modern rituals. This does not change the significance of the wedding, which is still considered the focal point of the Macedonian folkways.
The Boulevard Room has hosted many small Macedonian weddings. The in house catering team designs and prepares traditional Macedonian cuisine in conjunctions with modern culinary techniques.