Wedding in Ukraine

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What is it A Ukrainian Wedding? Oh, it is very simply! Just eat, drink, sing and dance! Something complicated? No! But it is just for guests, not for organizers of Ukrainian wedding. Usually the parents of the bride and groom become the planners and organizers of the wedding, but in Ron’s and my case WE ARE the planners and organizers of our wedding. Oh, I almost forgot! We still are the bride and groom :)!
So, it seems to me, I won’t be feeling myself like a real romantic, affectionate and quivering fiancée, but like “the center of the mechanism” named “wedding”. I will worry whether a fresh vegetable, fish and meat was delivered in time to the restaurant, is everything OK with the hall’s decorations, and still many different practical thoughts will visit my head in the morning, August, 4 when I will sit on the hairdresser's chair.
But the half of Ron’s and my work is already done. For example, a menu of the festive table already chosen. Wedding clothes and shoes we have. Musicians, cameraman, wedding transport we have ordered. Now we are working for the “scenario” of our wedding.
The standard scheme of the modern Ukrainian wedding mostly is very simple. There are first table, dances, second table, dances, and finally third table. The duration of the first table is usually 2-3 hours, after that is dances break for about 2-3 hours, and then a second table. Second table duration is about 2 hours and no more, because guests are usually getting tired. A second dances break is not too long, about 1-2 hours. A last one, third table proceeds for about one hour and no more.
Now about the “tables”. The Ukrainian wedding’s table usually contain 10-15 appetizers (we have ordered 12) and up to 10 hot dishes (we have ordered 7). The guests during the first and second tables are eating, drinking, singing, joking and saying toasts to the bride and groom. During the third table they are trying Korovaj (Ukrainian Wedding’s Ceremonial Sweet Bread) and having a dessert (cakes, fruits, coffee, tea). People have some of the hot dishes during the first table, and some for the second table. The cooks with experience usually advise to give more hot dishes on the first table, because people are getting more hungry after spending a whole day with bride and groom at the Church ceremony, photo session etc.
The dishes for the our wedding tables were ordered by Anna, who is a famous emcee for Ternopil’s weddings. She knows almost EVERYTHING about Ukrainian weddings. First of all, we started to order appetizers. When I have counted in 7 appetizers, I asked Anna, “Maybe enough?”. “Enough, but not for Ukrainian wedding. Or do you want that your guests called you “cheap”?, Anna answered. Of course, I didn’t want that, so 12appetizers were ordered and 7 hot dishes as well, and I went home with a calm feeling that I have kept a tradition of Ukrainian hospitality.
I won’t tell about all the dishes which we are going to have on our wedding table, because I would like to save some surprises to our guests. Just I can say about some of food, also about what appetizers and hot dishes usually must to be on the typical Ukrainian wedding. First of all, a meat. Ukrainians says, “No meat no wedding”. Usually in Ukrainian villages for the wedding (especially for the big wedding, from 100 to 350 persons) people will raise a pig or a calf. Several kinds of ham and sausages should be on a wedding table necessarily, and some hot dishes from meat must be included.
The next very important part of the appetizers are the salads. Many salads. The more salads on the wedding table the more compliments to the chief cook and organizers of wedding. Ukrainian women are able to prepare many different salads, and especially with mayonnaise. If the salad is without mayonnaise, Ukrainian women usually says it is not a festive salad. For example, I had a long discussion about including a salad from cabbage to the wedding menu. Anna who was emcee on many of Ternopil’s weddings, tried to convince me that salad from fresh cabbage, cucumber, green onion and sunflower oil it is a casual salad, not a festive salad. But I said to her that my husband would be disappointed if he wouldn’t see on the table his favorite cabbage salad with sunflower oil. So, Ron, we have in wedding’s menu, a salad from your favorite cabbage, but we decided to add to it carrots and dill. For the festivity :).
Also my Ron (and other guests too) will enjoy another two dishes from the cabbage as well. It is holubtsi and a stewed cabbage with pork ribs. Holubtsi is rolls from cabbage leaves with rice (rice is used in modern times and buckwheat is traditional) and mincemeat inside. We decided to make both of kinds of holubtsi, half of rice and half of buckwheat.
So it seems to me we have ordered enough dishes for our guests and I hope that our festive tables won’t be empty. If plates are empty on the wedding tables, it mean a big shame for the bride, groom and their parents, also these families can get a “reputation” of being misers. But if we have a REAL Ukrainian wedding, we have to keep the REAL Ukrainian traditions, and in food especially.

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