Young women in Vlkolínec used to get married at the age between 16 and 18. Young men would get married a little bit later, after their return from the mandatory military service, approximately after the age of 21.
The first step before the wedding was the courtship ritual. Usually on a Sunday, the suitor and his confirmation father came to the house of the young woman whose hand they were asking for in marriage. The proposal was directed to the father of the young woman. If the father agreed, the daughter was then asked if she agreed as well. If she did, it was set, they toasted the arrangement and the house residents offered food and drinks to the suitor.
Before the wedding, the groom had to choose his main groomsman and the bride had to choose her main bridesmaid. These two were actually the witnesses. The confirmation father of the groom and his wife became the elder man and the elder woman of the wedding. The confirmation mother of the bride became the dowry woman. She was responsible for delivering of the dowry – the duvets and other things to the house of the newly-wed couple. The roles of groomsmen and bridesmaids were taken by single siblings and cousins of the bride and groom. The wedding party also included musicians, godparents, grandparents, sisters and brothers in law and other relatives and, naturally, friends of the bride and groom.
On the day of the wedding, people in Vlkolínec used to bake their typical wedding cake, which was really big, and which they called a “cake of joy”. A room was prepared for the wedding reception. Sitting at the forefront of the room were the bride and the groom, their parents and godparents, the main groomsman and the main bridesmaid, the elder man and the elder woman. Sitting at the sides were the groomsmen and bridesmaids and other participants in the wedding. There was room for dancing in the centre and the musicians were seated in the corner.
In the afternoon, at first, the main groomsman met with the main bridesmaid, who was wearing a traditional costume.
In the house where she lived, the bride was getting dressed in the meantime. She was wearing a white dress and a white ribbon in her hair.
Meanwhile, the groomsmen, the bridesmaids and the musicians met in the house of the elder man. After having a drink of “hriatô” spirit, they went off to the groom’s house, singing along the way. They were joined by the main groomsman and the main bridesmaid on the way. When they came to the house of the groom, the groom knelt down in front of his parents, thanked them for everything they had done for him, asked them for forgiveness for anything he had upset them with, and he asked them for their blessing. The mother and the father made a cross on his forehead and gave him a blessing.
Afterwards, the entire party including the groom went off to the house of the young bride – bride to be. The groom was accompanied by the main bridesmaid. After their arrival, the bride, just like the groom, knelt down in front of her parents, thanked them for everything and asked them for their parental blessing. The parents made her a cross on the forehead and gave her their blessing. Then the elder man asked for permission to take the bride to the altar. The permission was given by the husband of the confirmation mother – the man handing over the bride to the groom.
After that, the whole party went off to the church for the wedding ceremony. The priest and the ministrants were wearing formal clothes and, after the ceremony, the priest accompanied the newly-wed couple in front of the church and handed them over to their relatives.
Then the whole party went home to have the reception. This procession was associated with a particular custom. Along the way, the party encountered an obstacle prepared by the young men. The elder man had to pay “ransom” in the form of a bottle of spirit and some pastries. Only then the procession could continue.
The reception started with a toast and sweet treats. After that, it was time for the wedding dinner. First course was meat soup with noodles. Then they had roasted meat, and sometimes also sweet bread gnocchi with poppy seeds.
The dinner was followed by dancing. Everyone participated: the old, the young and the children. As the wedding continued, people from the village came to look as well. They were treated with a glass of distilled spirit and pastries.
At the stroke of midnight, music went silent. The bride had to sit down on a chair in the centre of the room. The main groomsman asked her: “Off with the wreath or with the head?” She answered: “With the head.” Only at the third time she answered: “With the wreath.” The groomsman then loosened the wreath and took it off, which was followed by an auction of the wreath, which had to be won by the groom. Then they unravelled the bride’s braid, removed the ribbons from her hair, braided it back with only a string, and, finally, they put a bonnet on her head.
After that, they danced the wreath dance. The first dance was for the newlywed couple, then the bride and the groom danced with their parents and then they were joined by everyone else. Everyone who went dancing with the bride or the groom threw a coin on the plate on which the wreath was placed.
Then it was time for the second dinner, which was either sauerkraut soup or mutton stew.
Dancing continued after dinner, and occasionally men would lift the women up in the air and the women would whoop. Meanwhile, people ate and drank. They partied almost until dawn. At the end, everyone received a box of wedding sweets and other goodies to take home, so everyone was leaving with a package in their hands.