One of the most incredibly beautiful wedding's we've ever been to was in Krakow, Poland. Ania, the stunning Polish bride, and Martin, an adoring Irish groom, invited us to join in a wedding set for royalty. The wedding was held in the stunning village of Katowice which is about 50 minutes drive from old Krakow town. The ceremony set the tone for the affair, being held in a historic church and in true polish style.
Guests were then welcomed into the rustic and industrial reception venue with shots of homemade Polish vodka and a traditional glass throwing ceremony. We were privileged enough to share the bridal table at this spectacular affair and enjoy the day so closely with the couple. After the first 3-courses, guests were ushered off to an underground private recital room where we enjoyed a performance by a professional violinist and opera singer. The feast continued with courses continuing until 4am where guests danced until the sun came up.
Before getting married, Ania and Martin had spent the past few years living in Australia. When the couple decided to get engaged they set out to plan the ultimate wedding remotely. This was an incredible challenge and we applaud the couple for how flawless the whole day was. It was undoubtably one of the most memorable experiences we've ever had and we are so fortunate that Ania has given our brides the opportunity to learn from her experience and what it was like to plan a wedding in Poland.
Here are Ania's tips on all the aspects of planning her spectacular 5-star wedding international wedding. It was timeless, elegant and utterly romantic... something dreams are made of!
PLAN A POLISH WEDDING
How did your husband propose?
We went for a holiday to Fiji. We stayed in a beautiful boutique hotel in one of the hundreds of little islands in Mammanuca. One day we decided to kayak to one of the nearby islands. We took a bottle of champagne and paddle to the deserted beach we could see from faraway. It was lovely as there was no other people around, just us and nature. We drank champagne and enjoyed amazing views, then out of the blue, Martin kneeled down and pulled a beautiful ring out. I was literally in shock! I always thought that I would know exactly when this moment would come but that day I did not expect it at all. It was amazing. I loved the fact that it was just the two of us to share the moment, it made it very special. That’s exactly how I wanted it to happen. It was a perfect day!
Did he have a ring?
Yes, I got a beautiful diamond ring. I'm normally not a blingy person but I do love my ring. Especially because Martin did all the research and chose a ring himself. It reminds me of him every day.
Did you have a special way to ask your friends/family to be in your bridal party?
Since primary school I've had three best friends. And as I’ve been living abroad for the last 10 years, every moment I can spend with them is very special. The minute I got engaged I knew they would be my bridal party so the only question I had, was how am I going to ask them. I’m a wine lover and every time I go home the 4 of us catch up, talk, laugh and drink wine. So I bought 4 lovely Aussie wines, designed a wine label saying ‘will you be my bridesmaid?’ and gave it to the girls. They loved it.
Tell us about your ceremony
I’m Catholic so for me the only way to get married was always in the church. I also wanted to get married in my hometown, I couldn’t imagine leaving for the church from anywhere else but my home! We choose a red brick church – simple but elegant, based in one of the oldest parts of my city. I wanted a rustic wedding, so this church was the perfect fit. It was also a great representation of the coal mine region I grew up in and that I love. We had a violin playing during the ceremony and at the reception, it was a perfect combination of classical (in the church) and traditional Irish music (at the reception) – perfect to welcome the family of my Irish husband in Poland.
How did you select your celebrant, minister...?
We got a priest who was based at the parish where we were getting married. We needed a priest that could speak both Polish and English fluently and we were lucky enough that one of the priests in that parish spoke both languages, he also was one of the friendliest priest we have ever met.
Venue & Destination
Which reception venue did you select and why?
I wanted it to be close to home. I’m very proud where I come from and I wanted to show to my new family and friends from around the world why I call Poland home. I managed to find a venue that was exactly the style I was looking for, it was close to my home and it represented the region that I grew up in (Upper Silesia). It was an old coal mine building that was beautifully refurbished, combination of rustic and elegance, red brick walls, tall windows, simple but and lovely.
Planning an international wedding has many challenges. What were the hardest parts to coordinate?
The biggest challenge was finding venue that would tick all the boxes for us. I went home only once before the wedding and even though I visited 20-30 venues, I didn’t fall in love with any of them. Unfortunately, that meant we had to keep looking for a venue from Australia and we didn’t get to see it until 3 weeks before the wedding. Thankfully everything was perfect but the whole process caused a bit of stress for us. Apart from the venue we had couple of other challenges like picking a florist. Flowers were extremely important to me and I just couldn’t find a good enough florists online. I ended up asking friends and friends of my friends for recommendations. It all worked in the end but planning a wedding from a different continent was definitely a challenge.
Did you have someone in the country you were getting married in to help plan and coordinate your wedding?
I couldn’t have done it without my parents. They were my eyes and my voice on the ground and without them I would never be able to organise my wedding. Thank you so much mum and dad.
How involved was your venue in the planning process?
In Poland, the venue doesn’t really take part in the planning process. They mainly take care of the food, drinks and service, they usually do basic decorations as well. If you want to change or bring your own decorations, drinks, etc. they’re usually happy to accommodate that for you.
Tell us about your dress, shoes and accessories and how you found them?
I was never a girl who knew what kind of dress she wanted. But once I got engaged I started searching for my perfect dress. Very quickly I found a dress online (or style) that I loved. And thankfully one of the bridal shops in Sydney had it in stock so I was able to try it on. Once I put it on I knew it was the one! Although I didn’t buy it at first, I kept looking for the next couple of weeks (just in case). And of course I ended up buying that dress. Fishtail style, fitted in the upper body and ..... at the bottom. I chose simple but elegant patent leather heels in light grey. As the dress was the star of the show I didn’t want to overdo with accessories, but I normally wear quite chunky necklaces, so I decided to get a beautiful, bold necklace that would complete my look. Everyone said that it was very me. I absolutely loved it.
Were there any challenges with bringing a dress overseas?
Not really, I was fortunate to get special treatment because of my dress. My journey home included 3 flights, 2 on big A380 planes and one on a normal short haul plane. On the big planes I was able to put the dress into closets but on the small plane there was no such a thing. The last leg was a flight from Frankfurt to Krakow. Once I got aboard I asked the stewardess if they could store my dress somewhere for me, she asked me to wait on the side and disappeared. After few minutes she came back to tell me that the safest place for my dress would be in the pilots’ cockpit but the pilots gave one condition, they insisted they had to meet this bride. So for the first time I had a chance to go into the cockpit and chat to the pilots. We chatted for 15 minutes, took some pictures together and had a bit of laugh. They really made my day (and my dress was very safe during this flight)!
How did you coordinate and choose your bridal party outfits? What were the challenges?
Well I was a bit selfish. I chose dresses I really liked and thought the girls would look great in them. They were infinity dresses so there was no issue with size or anything else. They loved them and they looked stunning.
What challenges did you face with coordinating your invitations and guest list?
I designed my own invitations so coordinating that process was easy and exciting. The biggest challenge for us was getting some of our invited guests to RSVP. Our close family and friends were in touch very quickly but some of our other relatives (some of which we didn’t really know but had to invite) never got back to us. It was little bit frustrating as we didn’t know if we were going to have 50 or 150 people at the wedding. In the end we (or I) just stopped stressing and focused on the people that we really wanted to have at the wedding.
Tell us about your suppliers
I think that was one of the hardest parts of the wedding planning, find and then coordinate all the different suppliers from the other side of the world. Unfortunately, in Poland, there are still a lot of small businesses that don’t have an online presence, so most of the times you would be looking for suppliers through the word of mouth.
First supplier I booked (which was also the most important for me) was the photographer (pieczkopietras.com). They were recommended to us by our reception venue, but they also had good website and Facebook page so they were easy to find online. Once we saw their work we knew that was it! Beautiful photos, especially details and action shots, it was exactly what we wanted. Ania & Mateusz were great to deal with and very flexible with our requests. I would definitely recommend them to any one!
I also loved my hair and make up but the process of choosing these suppliers was very different to the photographer! I couldn’t find anyone suitable online so I waited until I was home to talk to all my friends and friends of friends to get some recommendations. And I got it! The hairdresser, Magda, was great, she was open to all my suggestions and was also able to advise what she thought was best for me. The party went on until 5am and my hair was perfect, it even lasted through the next day! What was also great she did hair for my 3 bridesmaids and they were all happy (and believe me that’s not something that can be easily done!). The same goes for my make-up artist, Gosia, pure professionalism and at the same time, a really lovely girl. The no makeup makeup look, was how she called it, was just perfect for me!
What tools did you use to make sure the day ran smoothly e.g. run sheets, budget charts?
I created a spreadsheet which was based on the Google docs wedding template. It had everything, so I could choose things I wanted to keep and remove everything else. It was perfect to keep everything under control and I was able to share this document through Gmail with my fiancé or our parents to coordinate the invitation list.
What were your biggest challenges during the planning process? Did anything go wrong on the night?
Ah there was a lot of challenges. The biggest one would of course be planning a Polish wedding all the way from Australia! As mentioned, finding suppliers was really hard. A lot of things had to be finished with a face to face meeting/discussion which meant that I had to do them all while I was home 1 month before the wedding.
Thankfully, everything went perfect on the day of and the best thing for me was hearing that my guests loved it too. My parents were a huge help for me during the whole planning process and on the day. It’s great to have people you trust and can count on that can help out.
Any tips for brides?
Definitely have a budget and a to do list. As I mentioned earlier Google wedding planner is pretty useful. If you can be close to your wedding venue during the planning process that is definitely an advantage, if you’re not, make sure you have someone on the ground that can help you!
Themes, Colours & Inspiration
Tell us about your theme and wedding style? Where did you find your inspiration?
There were couple of things I was looking for when planning my wedding. I didn’t have a theme as such, however I wanted it to be a rustic/industrial inspired wedding. Once we found our perfect venue (redbrick/industrial style) we decided to pick colours we liked but colours that would go nicely with the red brick walls. We decided on white and grey with a touch of light purple/blue. I absolutely love hydrangeas and they were the foundation of my flowers and decorations. As we were going for a rustic/industrial elegance look, our centrepieces were based on long clear vases, in the vases were white and grey stones and pieces of wood, on top were white hydrangeas with the addition of grey plants and rustic branches coming out from the flowers.
We also had candles swimming in smaller vases around the venue and on tables. On the top table we had the same flowers but in baskets instead of vases and of course candles too. As a backdrop we had the same center piece as the guests’ tables, only slightly bigger and with little tea candles hanging from the branches. We also had two pieces of grey linen with little pockets which were filled with beautiful flowers behind us creating that rustic atmosphere.
Tip: Even most the beautiful venue might have something you don’t like but you can find clever ways to fix it. Our venue had two frescos painted on the main wall (behind the top table) which I didn’t like. I knew they would be featured in all the photos as they were directly behind us. So I discussed different options with my florist and she came up with the idea of flower linen covering the frescos. It was perfect, there was no frescos visible and the two linens added nicely into our rustic theme.
What were the must haves in your wedding?
Must haves were definitely beautiful flowers. A good photographer was another thing. That was second after the wedding venue that we choose. We love our wedding pictures so it was a perfect decision.
At a Polish wedding, hospitality is also very important, so making sure our guests had enough to eat and drink and that they were taken care of was crucial (especially for the parents!).
Did you have anything made where you live locally and bring it with you?
I designed and made our own invitations. I work in Marketing so I love creating new things. Our invites were very simple, but I loved the final look. My local printing company printed them for us, then we had to assemble them together.
We also had a little gift for our international guests. I wanted it to be something Polish, something special and ideally something homemade. My dad has a lot of talents, and one of them is making awesome lemon vodka. So we put the vodka into cute little bottles with a thank you message on them and we left them in their hotel rooms waiting for their arrival.
What were some of the unique elements to your wedding (e.g. activities, games, food stands)?
One of the unique elements was pre wedding party. In the region I come from, there is a tradition that the day before the wedding the friends and family of the bride and groom gather in the bride’s house and smash porcelain. It’s meant to bring luck to the couple’s marriage. Normally it’s quite a low key event, however as we had visitors from all over the world, we wanted to make it something a bit more special. We decorated the whole garden in a rustic style (we had flowers, candles and even bales to sit on). We had food and cold drinks (placed in a barrow as it was 35 degrees) and a lot of broken dishes to clean. Everything went great, porcelain was smashed and party lasted till 2am. Definitely a night to remember before the wedding!
Other unique elements we had on our wedding day was when the guests would shout, “bitter – bitter – bitter,” until we kissed, smashing our Champagne glasses (again for good luck) after first entrance to the venue or having ‘oczepiny’ at midnight. Oczepiny is when the bride needs to take off the groom’s dicky bow and the groom takes off the bride’s veil while bridesmaids and groomsman try to stop them, then the bride throws a veil and the groom, a dicky bow to all the single ladies/men.
Did you have anything special coordinated for guests over the wedding period?
During the wedding day we had a violin concert dedicated to all the guests. The traditional pre wedding party. The day after we had post wedding party with food and drinks for everyone. It really was 4 days of dancing, eating and drinking. We all needed a bit of rest after that!
Where did you have your honeymoon?
As we just came back from Australia, we wanted to spend some time in Europe, so we went for a Mediterranean cruise. We flew from Poland to Milan and spent a night there, the next day we took the train to Venice where we spent a night too. The following day our cruise was leaving for Venice and we were heading for Dubrovink, Santorini, Kusadasi and Katakolon and back to Venice. It was a perfect way for us to relax after months of wedding preparations and see some of the most beautiful places in Europe.
Would you do it all over again? If so, is there anything you’d do differently to make the process easier?
I would definitely. But as I said earlier to make mine and my parents life much easier I wouldn’t be organising the wedding from a different continent. It would be great to have much more time to meet with all the suppliers and think through some of the decisions we had to rush.
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Article compiled by Kelsey Olive / Alex Gilles. Images courtesy of pieczkopietras.com