Monday, July 25, 2011

Zlatne Uste Plays for Surprise Wedding :)

(photo 1, Sandy and Ken) (photo 2, Zlatne Uste Balkan Brass Band)

Have you ever been to one of those "cookie cutter" wedding receptions?

During the years when my friends were getting married, I went to plenty of them, and they were pretty much interchangeable, except for the couples. My husband and I had one. The format is familiar: appetizers followed by bland prime rib and then the wedding cake, all of it washed down with gallons of booze. The bride and groom entering, the first dance, the first kiss, the throw of the garter, the dance with Mom, the dance with Dad. The music, performed by a band or a DJ, is a mixture of sappy love songs, pop music, the Chicken Dance and Alley Cat.

In my next life I'd like to have a wedding reception like the one I went to recently. It was delightfully different.

The couple, Sandy and Ken, have been together a long time and surprised everyone when they announced their marriage during one of the band breaks. We all thought it was a party showcasing the Balkan brass band from New York City, Zlatne Uste.

Sandy and Ken are dancers and musicians, and play for Panharmonium, the Amherst International Folk Dance house band:

Sandy also writes a monthly article for the Danvers Herald, and a blog about growing up in Danvers, Massachusetts:

During the month of May, at one of the Friday night dances, they announced that Zlatne Uste was going to play locally, a rare event, since they usually do gigs in the New York City area (where I danced to their music at the very first Golden Festival in 1985). This was something I was not going to miss, and I marked it prominently on my calendar as soon as I knew.

It was an unforgettable experience, and the music was loud enough to wake the dead (believe it or not a few people wore earplugs).

Here's one of the videos I took during the party. This is a dance very popular in the Balkans, Devetorka.

Here's another, are we having fun yet?

I wish the happy couple the best, and I thank them for arranging one of the the most enjoyable events I have ever been to!

For more on Zlatne Uste read:

Their web site can be found here:

The Zlatne Uste Golden Festival, which celebrated its 26th year, has been held the third weekend of January in New York City every year since 1985. It has gotten so big that they had to move to Brooklyn.

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  1. I had one of those cookie cutter weddings too which is probably why the marriage crumbled! :) If I ever get married again it would definitely be different the next go round. I really enjoyed the dancing and singing in the subway car...:)

  2. Love and Marriage... blah but as always I agree that this music is very different at least, for me :)

  3. The dancing in the train looked fun. It would have been nice to have been a passenger on that one :)

  4. thank you all for stopping by and reading! I think if more people danced and sang in subway cars the world would be a happier place :)

  5. Cookie cutter weddings? I had no idea you had that concept.. in Bulgaria, all weddings are long and full of rituals and always lots of fun! There's the "bribing" of the bride's brother or relatives by filling different objects with money, the stealing of the bride from her home, then signing the papers at the municipality or eventually the ceremony at the church, then all the guests' cars decorated with flowers or balloons beeping and honking while driving in a line to the restaurant, then the restaurant with fun customs such as stuffing the mouth of the mother-in-law with ritual bread and honey (so that she doesn't speak too much), presenting the best man with presents, dancing the horo, some performances, and so on! its always a big party, especially if you like drinking till dawn! :)
    But i think that the dance with the dad and the dance with the mom sound so romantic. I'd love to attend a "cookie cutter/ Wedding Singer" style wedding :)
    Good luck to that Balkan-dances-loving couple!!

  6. The Bulgarian wedding customs are fascinating. As for the one about stuffing the mother-in-law's mouth with bread, I'd best not let my kids know about that, there would be a run on the bakery.

    I read something on BNR wedding traditions recently. I've also seen some Bulgarian wedding videos on YouTube, they look like so much fun :)

    American weddings tend to be commercialized and are, for the most part, very similar, and they are also very expensive.