Macedonian Wedding

'Traditionally weddings were only Sunday things but now, because of work commitments, they do it Friday or Saturday night, so they are changing. And people want to get married at Christmas time because they are on holidays.' Elena

'We were married three times. Once at the registry office in Velusina my village in Macedonia with my few remaining relatives there; once in Skopje with Elena's parents because they missed out on the first wedding; and a church wedding at St Dimitrija, the Macedonian Orthodox Church in Stewart St Wollongong, with 400 guests all from my side of the family.

On the day of the wedding here everyone gathered at our house with the musicians, all local Macedonians including two accordion players, a drummer and clarinettist. Then the singing and dancing began. Normally the bride would not be there but since we were already married Elena was present. First you must welcome the numko (godfather), the most important person who ensures that everything goes according to plan. Everyone drinks rakia. There is also a numka (godmother).

I was 'shaved' before the ceremony, a tradition that says either the groom is so nervous he might cut himself, or to make it easier to remember this important day. You use a large broom, an axe, a towel and a bucket. As we left the house, Elena spilled a glass of water with her right foot to symbolise a life as smoothly flowing as water.

At the church, we were draped in a white cloth and crowns were held above our heads to symbolise us being a king and queen. We circled the altar three times, while the numka threw money and sugared almonds, which all the children collected. This means that we, the newlyweds, will have many children running around.

The kolak (large round loaf of bread) for the ceremony has to be mixed by a young boy and girl on the day before the wedding. During the ceremony it is held above the groom's head, then cut up and everyone gets a piece.' Mendo

The pre-wedding celebrations at Mendo and Elena's house, where guests dance the oro, accompanied by a drum, and Mendo is shaved to remind him of his duties as the man of the household.

One of Mendo and Elena's guests offers the couple another kolak after the wedding ceremony. Bread is an essential part of the church ceremony, as it is in many other cultures and religions.During the wedding ceremony, Mendo and Elena are crowned as a king and queen.