13+1 Hungarian wedding traditions You can incorporate in your wedding
Owing to the “stormy history” of Hungary, Hungarian people spread all around the World in several waves during the past decades.
Accordingly, however being born out of Hungary You also might have Hungarian ancestors, who You wish to dignify by involving some Hungarian traditions into your wedding. We show You some elements, which You easily can involve independently from the “basic traditions” You follow in your wedding or the country You live in - even in the totally “other corner” of the World.
1. Send-off of the Bride (“Kikérő” or “Menyasszony búcsúztatása”)
This wedding tradition originally is performed by the traditional Hungarian best man (called “vőfély” - see the photo on the left), but You can involve your non-Hungarian best man (if any) or any of your friends also. During the send-off, the best man asks the Bride (“Menyasszony”) from her parents in the name of the Groom (“Vőlegény”) - traditionally at the house of Bride’s parents, but symbolically it can be anywhere, where You can fit it before the (first) ceremony. During his speech - as I mentioned - he asks the parents to let the Bride “going away” from the parental home and also says thank You in the name of the Bride for bringing her up.
2. Bandage of her head (“Bekötik a fejét”)
This is not about any injuries (LOL), but about the symbolism of becoming a wife from being a fiancée. Traditionally if the girl accepted the proposal from the boy, she handed over a silk kerchief called “engagement kerchief” (“jegykendő”) to him, with which her head was bandaged by the oldest women during the wedding reception. In most of the cases the kerchief is embroidered with traditional Hungarian motives, but if You can’t get one, it can me by any kind of kerchief.
3. Bridal dance (“Menyasszonytánc”)
During this dance the bride is dancing with each guest (usually with couples and families, not separately with each person). Originally this is the occasion to hand over the wedding gift. The mothers of the bride and the groom used to collect the gifts (or envelops) and the best man is screaming: “Bride for sale” (“Eladó a menyasszony”)!
4. Change of dress at midnight
Hungarian brides still change their white bridal dress at midnight. Traditionally the new dress is red (but nowadays it can be of any colour fitting to the colours of the decoration) and it is called the “new wife dress” (“menyecskeruha”). This also symbolises becoming a wife. Sometimes the groom also changes his shirt to a red one. When they come back in the new dress, the best man announces the new wife and new husband.
5. Candle-light dance/waltz (“Gyertyafénykeringő”)
If the bride changes her dress at midnight, she used to say good-bye to the white dress with this dance. She dances a last dance with the groom holding one candle in their hands. The guests are standing in a big circle around them and they are also holding candles, which the newly-weds blow away while dancing. When all “guest candles” are blown away, the couple blows away their own one too, and leaves the room to change the dress. Traditionally, when leaving the room, the groom picks up the bride on his lap, and runs out with her.
The dance itself - as its name shows - used to be a waltz: Viennese Waltz (“bécsi keringő”) or English Waltz (“angol keringő”), but if You just dance “something” to a slow song, it still will be amazing. :)
6. New wife dance in red (“Menyecsketánc”)
Sometimes the bride doesn’t want to dance with all guests in her white (and big) dress, if she feels it uncomfortable, so they rather makes this dance in the red dress (which is always smaller and lighter then the white one). In this case we call it a new wife dance and the gifts are handed over at this occasion. The best man is screaming: “New wife for sale!” (“Eladó az Új Asszony!”)
7. Coin dance
This is another form of new wife dance, but it is danced with the groom, while the guests are throwing coins on the couple. At the end of the dance the couple must clean the coins with a broom and a shovel. It’s not an easy task, since the guests try to prevent it by kicking away the coins.
8. Hungarian motives
Several elements of the wedding can be decorated with Hungarian motives. The most famous motives are the “Kalocsa embroidery” (“Kalocsai hímzés”) or embroideries of other regions of the country (“Kalotaszeg”, “Matyó”, “Palóc”, “Sárköz”). You can apply these decoration on the invitation cards, your dress, the wedding favours, the seating cards or even the wedding cake (if You find a creative cake-shop nearby).
9. Wedding favours
If You wish to give your guests something really Hungarian wedding favour, then You should consider the traditional gingerbread (“mézeskalács”) hearts, small bottles of “pálinka” (traditional Hungarian spirit) or your favourite Hungarian wine or champagne with own label, or a small bag of red Hungarian ground pepper (“pirospaprika”).
10. Hungarian food
If You wish to involve something Hungarian food (and You have the opportunity to order it at the restaurant or wedding venue or the chef is open to try new recipes), then the Újházi chicken soup in the main wedding dinner and the stuffed cabbage at midnight are good choices. In Hungary there is no wedding without these two! :)
11. Gala-suit (“Díszmagyar”)
If the groom or the bride wishes to pay respect to his/her Hungarian origins in a clearly visible way, then he/she can choose to wear a gala-suit during the wedding. “Díszmagyar” is existing both in male and female version and in several colours. The male gala-suit originally is the ceremonial dress worn by Hungarian nobility in the 19th century, which “survived” until the IIWW, however its character origins from the 16th century. The female version comes from the Italian Renaissence. Nowadays several web-shops can be found, which might supply the dresses Worldwide.
You can read about Díszmagyar on Britannica.com:
12. Brittle wedding cake (“Pörköltcukor” cake)
This might be a challenge to order, if living out of Central-Europe, but it’s worth a try. The brittle wedding cake is made of melted sugar and ground nut formed into spectacular shapes. Traditionally the bride and the groom break it with a hammer or with their joint hands banded with a kerchief of textile napkin. It is said that they will have so many children as many pieces the brittle cake falls apart to.
13. Traditional Hungarian dance: “Csárdás”
“Csárdás” is a quite simple dance, what anybody can learn. The basic steps are: two to the left and two to the right. It can be a separate program to teach the guests or it can be the dance, what the bride dances with each guests. The music can be played from CD or pendrive.
Csárdás music by Csurgó zenekar CLICK
Video about the Csárdás dance CLICK
+1: Gypsy Music
Hungarian Gypsy musicians are also spread all over the World, so You might have the luck to be able to book a live band for your wedding. Gypsy music used to be played during the dinner or during the bridal dance (with the guests).