How to do an Albanian wedding: the Bride’s party

With oodles of tradition and celebration, weddings in Albania are on a whole new level of madness.

We were not able to tick all the boxes in our Albanian wedding – it just doesn’t work when the bride is from overseas, rather than from the neighbouring village – but we tried to stick as close as possible to the real thing.

Weddings traditionally lasted a whole week with days of dancing, exchanging gifts and celebrating in the days leading up to the main event. Modern life makes this more difficult so these days weddings commonly last two days. The Bride’s family host her party (for Catholic families, this is usually a Saturday) the day before the Groom’s party (for Catholic families, this is usually a Sunday).

Usually the Groom and his family do not attend all of the Bride’s wedding party. A small group will turn up part way through the evening and stay for an hour or so.

Seeing as my family are all overseas, and 90% of my friends in Albania are cousins of my husband, my fear was the Bride’s party would have been a little low on attendance! However, we did have a wonderful bunch of friends and family travelling from NZ, UK and Germany. Amazing! So Saturday night we hosted a dinner party and blended our close family and friends – more in the style of a rehearsal dinner.

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Normally the Bride is also glammed up in one of several wedding dresses hired for the weekend. I only had the one wedding dress, bought over from London so decided to opt for something a little simpler instead!

So about 40 of us gathered for a relaxed meal under grapevines. We feasted, drank and danced. It was so cool to see my non-Albanian friends mix and mingle with my new family. It was the perfect way to ease into the madness that lay ahead on Sunday.

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