Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Albania Wedding #2 - Red Poppy Theme (Red and White) Wedding

Some people who are not from Albania, but would like to get married there may choose to go a lot more ''Western" than the traditional Albanian wedding, but there are still some easy ways to keep Albania the focal point. Keeping with a red and black theme is a great option for Albania but it can easily be made more traditional to fit any person's dream wedding. If the couple is already married, a nice little ceremony outside for their family and friends is a great way to show case the beauty Albania has to offer.

(Agora ruins, photo by: Tony Wheeler for Lonely Planet)

The poppy worked well to show case the red and black of the Albanian flag, and it is the national flower, so using it would tie in the red theme and it would represent Albania well.  Not many people have ever seen a real poppy, most people are used to seeing poppies around remembrance day but the real things are very beautiful. A great option for the groom and his groom's men, and the father of the bride/groom would be brooch or fake flower. 

(Poppy brooches)                    

The Dress: 
A traditional Dashmas (Albanian Wedding) dress looks something similar to the wedding dresses of Afghanistan. And it is said that since weddings are so popular and such a big deal in Albania that there are dress shops on almost every street corner. Renting is always an option so, renting a traditional Albanian dress to have a ceremony in and take a few pictures in before returning it would be a great option. Celebrating in a white ''Western'' wedding dress would be a way to have both sides incorporated into the wedding day. Black on a wedding day, works just fine! In this case, a black and white wedding dress would work beautifully, the bright red of the flowers would be highlighted against the white and the black will add a little detail to the dress.

The Shoes:
With a long dress, the best shoes are always flat ones. A regular flip-flop, or a ballet flat would work well, in black or white. Any pair of plain shoes can be made more theme oriented by adding shoe clips to them. However with a long dress, chances are no one will see the bride's shoes so added glitter and such isn't needed. 

Make up, hair, nails and accessories: 
Make up always depends on the bride's complex and what colours she can pull off. A bright red lip stick would make the poppy red colour, but not every woman can pull off such a bright colour. Beautiful hair for a wedding is always having something simple and what the bride is used to is a key guide line. Loose and curly are always great options for a bride with long hair and by adding hair pins that incorporate the them would make it complete. 

(Great options for the bride and/or the flower girl - Left: Ruby Red Poppy by: ayawedding; Right: Poppy Red Flower by: embellishingyou)

Etsy is a great place to find the unusual. Its sellers have all kinds of thing to sell that are mostly home made. Finding poppy earrings and necklaces are hard to do when they aren't made of gold or silver with diamond or other gems, but earrings, necklaces and bracelets don't always have to cost an arm and a leg, these cute pieces of art add a little extra to any bride's look. 

The Groom: 
For the groom, a traditional tuxedo will be worn to ''match'' the bride's modern wedding dress. Black naturally is the only choice for this wedding, with red and black being the theme. So any black tuxedo or suit would work fine. An Alfred Sung one-button notch-lapel jacket, coupled with a Microfibre white point collar shirt and a poppy or candy red tie would be perfect for a red and black wedding. Cufflinks for the groom and his groom's men don't have to match the theme of the wedding, but a nice Poppy Jasper Cufflinks incorporates the red and black well into the links themselves. 

The Invitations: 
Naturally, the invitations for this wedding would be black and red with poppies on them. Thought not always a popular choice, there are poppy invitations and options out there. The best option for Albania and its poppy theme would be the poppy set of invitations by Applyberryink.

Photographer and Videographer: 
Asking a local company really isn't the best way to go because a couple that isn't local has no idea who to get and who has a track record of taking great pictures. Asking a person to travel around the world just to shoot pictures and/or video would cost a small fortune. The best thing to do is to ask friends and family if they have any experience with taking pictures (beyond the point and shoot that everyone can master), it would be a lot cheaper if an already invited guest could take pictures for the big day. But just because they are there anyways, offering to pay them a small fee, or asking them do to it as a wedding present could go along way to getting someone to agree to do it.

If the couple isn't getting married in on of the major religions of the country, the best way to get married would be at a city hall, at home, and than have a ceremony for friends and family. But since Albania has may religious groups getting married there may be easier for certain people than others. Either way an out door exchanging of vows and/or ring could be beautiful no matter what religion. 

(Red Poppy Jasper Rings; Left: Rustic Gunmetal Ring  Right: Antique Brass Ring both by: Distorted Earth (ETSY account). 

A great wedding guest book would be a beautiful art piece framed, with a red surrounding. Works of art are so versitial that they can be made to fit any theme, or incorporate any detail. In the picture below, any cityscape can be added to the frame and the surrounding colour can be almost any colour. For this wedding the red works perfectly, and the city can be anywhere in Albania or where the couple is from, where they met, or just a city that means something to them. 

Table numbers and name cards, help minimize the confusion for guests. Having a seating chart, especially with a sit down meal is a key part of the reception especially if the couple and their family isn't around to seat guests. Table numbers aren't always needed, sometimes they take away from the center pieces and take up too much room on the table, but table numbers can be printed on the name cards to take away any confusion. A postcard would work great for this, on one side the table number, on the other the guest's name. Framing them, or having a stand of some kind to hold them up would complete the look, or simply laying them on top of a place setting would work find also. 


Traditional weddings in Albania are held at the homes of the parents, so a first dance for the bride and groom isn't traditional and a dance for the bride and her father isn't either. However because of Albanian's new embrace of modern weddings certain Albanian songs are becoming more popular. Any Albanian slow romantic song would work fine, but for a couple and their guests that don't understand Albanian, a song in their native tongue may be better or an Albanian song with a wonderful melody would work well. 

There is usually a lot of food at an Albanian wedding, some say 10 times more food than an American one. Food is usually on the table as guests arrive and they are free to help themselves as music is played and they dance and celebrate even before the bride and groom get there. If the couple is having a reception in a hall than having a buffet waiting for them as they arrive would be a way to stick close to tradition. If they are going even more traditional and having just a house party as a reception, any pot luck type items would work very well. Usually, a lot of speeches are made at an Albanian wedding and a great set of champagne glasses would be anything with black and red Incorporated, maybe in a ribbon thing, or like the glasses below. Like Afghan weddings, a garter isn't usually worn or thrown at the wedding but if the couple chooses to add that tradition to their wedding, there is a beautiful garter set that matches the champagne glasses below.

The Cake: 
The wedding cakes in Albania are very much like those in Afghanistan, layered and usually very expensive. Cakes are usually four layers, but they aren't traditionally layered like a ''Western'' cake, each layer has its own stand. Some traditions do not serve the wedding cake or eat it at all, the bride and groom simply there for display and for the bride and groom to cut it. But cupcakes can be served for desert, and they can be topped with beautiful individual red poppy picks.

Any flowers can be chosen, ones with darker centers perhaps or fake ones, or real ones which ever the couple likes better. The serving set can simply be any set with red and/or black ribbons or it can be a red poppy set that matches the champagne flutes. Also the wedding cake topper can be any thing the couple likes but the one below would work well with the poppy theme also. 

Guest Favours: 
Guest favours aren't usually given at an Albanian wedding, however when having the ceremony in a hall instead of at the home of the couple's parents, it is best to give something as a sign of thanks to all the guests, the way an open home with a steady stream of food and drinks would be a thank you gesture on the family's part. Like Afghan weddings, frosted almonds are a part of the wedding traditions and are given out throughout the celebrations. Frosted almonds, and/or any other kind of candied nut or roasted nut would work find as a gift, or a mix of nuts would be fine also. Any type of eatable favour would work find.

These gift boxes can be a keep sake also, with the couple's name and wedding date along with a picture on top and a thank you note on the back, it makes a perfect favour box for guests. A special gift for everyone involved in the wedding, would be a beautiful poem, framed that matches the theme of the wedding to commemorate the special day.

Sometimes simple is the best way to go. A small bowl with clear water, and a poppy floating in the middle would be beautiful. Surrounded by black stones, or red petals, or even jelly crystals would be beautiful. A few light candles around and it would have the natural glow from the fire and still be inexpensive. Like the picture below or something on an even slightly larger scale. Also, adding paper poppy flowers, or black stones to any table, especially to receiving tables  cake table, or the buffet table would add a little something to a plain table.

Thank You Cards: 
A beautiful card with a picture of the couple is always a wonderful thank you card. Sometimes, the invitations don't have a matching thank you card to go with them and the couple has to scramble for something after their wedding. A lovely picture of the couple, is always a great alternative to this. But mixing and matching work well too. 

Places to see: 
Constructed in 1789 the Mosque of Ethem Bey  is situated just at the center of Tirana, the capital of Albania.  Together with the Clock Tower, they make an important historic part of Tirana. Skanderbeg Suare is a main plaza of Tirana, named in 1968 after the Albanian nation hero Skanderbeg, a monument can be found of Skanderbeg in the plaza. The Tirana International hotel, Place of Culture of Tirana, National Historical Museum and an Opera House can all be found in  Skanderbeg Square. The Fortress of Pertrela is located at the south of Tirana on the right side of national road linking the capital with the city of Elbasan. IT was built in the middle ages, and was commanded by Skanderbeg's sister, Mamica Kastrioti. Also the Fortress of Preza is a castle from the fifteenth century that has a dominant position in front of Kruja Mauntain.  The Kalasa Citadel ruins is also a great thing to see, along with the Agora ruins, and  Castle ruins. Finally, the Martyrs Cemetery which contains the ''Mother Albania'' monument, and the Tomb of Kapllan Pasha, built in 1814 to honor Kaplan Pasha, who ruled Tirana in the early 19th century, are must sees (Sites to see ). 

(Sky Club Panoramic Bar and Restaurant, Albania. Photo by: Doug McKinlay for The Lonely Planet)

The next country alphabetically is Algeria, in northwest Africa!