The Duquesne Hunky Wedding Celebrations

I googled hunky weddings to see what information I would find. Unfortunately, not much came up that related to a hunky wedding as you and I think of it. Instead, what surfaced were all types of information about men who were “hunky.” Although I find it gratifying that the term “hunky” has evolved to describe an extremely good-looking man, my curiosity was not satisfied. Not to be outdone, I dug a bit more and found a very interesting blog titled Everyday Blessings. The blog’s author, unfortunately, hasn’t written since October 2009 but she did have an entry that talked about her idea of hunky weddings:

 “For those of you who don’t know what a good hunky wedding is let me give some examples… one of the ladies who was preparing the food for this wedding said her son calls it a Chicki-Piggy-Rigi wedding… LOL! (Chicken, Pigs in the blanket, & Rigatoni are practically always on the menu and occasionally there is also Ham on the menu.) When my future husband and I were planning our wedding he wanted input on two things… the type of beer we were serving and the food, every other decision was mine to make. We had Coors Light and MGD and ham, pigs and rigs and I wanted chicken, too.

There is usually some tapping (or banging) on the tables that lets the newlyweds know that you would like to see them kiss. My husband hated this and still finds it quite annoying when we attend weddings. I think it is rather fun and harmless.

 Other necessary components of a good hunky wedding include the chicken dance, polka music, and cookies. Probably the biggest indicator that you are at a hunky wedding is a specific polka, the Bridal Polka, where the guests line up drop some $$ in a satin bag or apron worn by the Maid of Honor give the Bride a spin or two and then down a shot and get a piece of napkin wrapped wedding cake to enjoy for breakfast the next morning. There are tales that if you are a single woman you should sleep with the cake under your pillow and you will dream of your future husband…. interesting theory that I never personally tested out. After all the guests dance with the Bride they form a circle around her and try to keep the Groom from getting to her. Usually fun, a bit crowded and as long as it doesn’t go on for too long not so bad.”

 I remember attending Duquesne Hunky weddings that had pretty much the same scenarios. Different family traditions brought different variations of the long standing traditions. However, the parts that were consistent at every hunky wedding were buffets, cookie tables, bridal dances, polkas and basically LOTS of laughing, dancing, eating, drinking, music and noise!

Inhibitions were lost at hunky weddings. The purpose in attending was not to sit pristinely at a table and sip a glass of wine and elegantly cut into your prime rib or nosh on sushi while listening to chamber music. The purpose was to celebrate, and celebrate HARD! No one cared what you ate or how much you ate, no one cared that you may have celebrated a bit too much, no one cared that you didn’t possess the best rhythm while dancing and certainly, no one ever judged you when you cried as you danced with your daughter during the father-daughter dance.

In my family, dancing was the part of the reception that we always looked forward to. As a child, I remember seeing my parents, aunt and uncles, and all the guests swirling around the floor whenever a Polka was played, which was about every other song. They would hoot and holler while they danced. Jackets werequickly shed and tossed by the men, and the ladies were constantly mopping their brow. The music that played was not only polkas but Big Band music as well. I remember being amazed at seeing my mom and dad dance. They were really, really good. I came to find out in later years, that my dad had actually taught dance when he was younger. As the evening wore on, dances such as the Csárdás (a.k.a. chardash), the tarantella, the Mexican Hat Dance, the Viennese Waltz, and Zorba the Greek, etc. took place. We were a virtual United Nations of dance!!

The love of dancing hasn’t changed much even today. The music and the dances may have, but the spirit of uninhibited joy hasn’t subsided at hunky weddings. My daughter Megan was recently married. Although the wedding took place on the other side of the state, the spirit of the Duquesne Hunky Wedding was still present. I was so excited to be able to celebrate with the very large contingent of my western Pennsylvania family that made the trek across the state. We danced the electric slide, the cupid shuffle and all types of dances that got everyone to the dance floor. It was a rip-roaring hell raising affair, and I’ll remember it forever.

The food feast that took place at the hunky wedding was as traditional as the food that was part of the Slovak Vilija or Hebrew Sadder meal. “Chicki-Piggy-Rigi” pretty much describes the main components of chicken, stuffed cabbage and rigatoni, but there was so much more. You couldn’t forget the trays of sliced ham, sliced roast beef, cheeses, sandwich buns, garnish tray, dinner rolls and all types of condiments. Is it any wonder that these foods have become comfort food for we hunkies?

As much as I enjoyed the main courses, NOTHING could compete with the cookie table however. I recall mounds and mounds of homemade cookies that were yours for the taking! I remember my mother had to constantly rein me in when it came to the cookie table, a job that my wife has now taken on. There was no such thing as a store bought cookies, then or even now. The goodies were prepared with loving hands by mothers, aunts, cousins, neighbors and just about anyone that wanted to be part of the celebration. I pride myself as being a veritable expert when it comes to cookies. They didn’t call me “cookie face” for nothing when I was growing up. My particular favorites were and still are cold dough apricot or poppyseed horns, lady fingers, raspberry sandwich cookies, pizzelles and those little thumbprint cookies made with jimmies and gobs of colored icing. The number of cookies were always disproportionate to the number of guests. I would estimate that each wedding reception attendee would have to consume at least three or four dozen cookies along with their meal. Over zealousness came with baking for a hunky wedding.

So many couples today are opting for upscale venues for their wedding; hotels, reception halls and a never ending assortment of places to celebrate are available. However, in Duquesne, things were quite simpler. Our venues consisted of the Slovak Club on Grant Ave, the Croatian Club (aka Cro Club) at the corner of Wilmont and Homestead Duquesne Rd., the VFW at the top 3rd Street and Duquesne Blvd., the K of C Hall on Pennsylvania Ave. in West Mifflin, and in later years, G & K Hall on Texas Ave. just across the Duquesne/West Mifflin line. So many wonderful events took place in those hallowed halls. If the walls could only talk……….

There was so much that went into the making, and now, the remembering a hunky wedding that I am unable to cover in just one post to my blog. So please check back and enjoy the stroll through the memories of life in Duquesne. And in the meantime, mať nádhernýčassipamätať, which means, have a wonderful time remembering.

This entry was posted in Hunky Celebrations, Life in General, My Hunky Family. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The Duquesne Hunky Wedding Celebrations

  1. Laurie says:

    I call that buffet the “Steel City Smorgasbord! ; )

  2. Bob Chermonitz says:

    Invited or not, everyone came to your wedding! My 1st wedding reception was held at the Knights of Columbus in West Mifflin (1975). During a break in the action I went to the bar to get a drink. At least 8 guys I couldn’t invite (due to number of invitations available to the groom) were dressed to the 9’s standing at the bar and having a great time! All things considered I shoulda stayed with them! 🙂

  3. Debbie Carr Gavlik says:

    My brother, Tommy Carr, just gave away his daughter Colleen at Christ the Light (aka Holy Name) Church in December. It was the same church where he married Becky Soffa and I married Joey Gavlik. It brought back a lot of memories. The ceremony was followed by a beautiful reception with great food and the biggest hunky cookie table that I have ever seen… I thought I had died and went to Heaven when I saw it! Me, Becky, her sisters, Carol and Sandy, and many others baked those cookies and were so proud of them that we posted pictures of them on facebook. Nothin beats a good old fashioned hunky cookie table!

  4. Eileen Phillips says:

    Thanks again. My husband and I married at Holy Name church in 1964. We had a hunky wedding at the Slovak Club. Great Memories.

  5. Laurine Emert says:

    I think just living in Duquesne gave you honorary “Hunky” status. My Irish girlfriend married a hunky – her mom and my mom and grandmom and several others made the cookies for the reception. The tables were so full of cookies, it made every kid and half the men drool!!! (and to be honest, about a third of the women, too.) I was in my mid twenties or so before I found out that you could have a wedding reception without the Chiki-Piggi-Rigi menu!!! (It was my boss and they had a sit down dinner (my first reception like that!). And the cookie table was NOT groaning under a load of cookies lovingly made by hand for the express purpose of honoring the bride and groom.

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