While I attended a luncheon for the retired nurses who worked at Frick Hospital in Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania, one of the subjects we talked about was the wedding, to be more specific, the reception after the wedding. There is one tradition that seems to be a trademark of western Pennsylvania that seems less prevalent or completely absent elsewhere in the country, even in the eastern part of the state. The food served elsewhere is often finger sandwiches, cheese and relish trays, and little tea and crumpet type cookies that do little more than to whet an appetite.
While here in western Pennsylvania, basically a full meal is served. Anything may be served from a sit down dinner to a buffet line. Chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, fish might be on the serving line. Some of the staples that are often are rigatoni, halushki, halupkis salads, perogies, potatoes, and string beans.
Usually there are tables of hors d’oeuvres trays of cheeses, crackers, and pepperoni to assuage the appetites of the attendees until the bridal party completes their photography session. Other tables are laden with cookies of myriad shapes and flavors, all baked by generous relatives.
When the ladies at my table hit this part of the discussion, they paused long enough to share the trials and tribulations of baking and some cookie recipes.
The newlywed bride and groom sit with the wedding party in front of the crowd and subjected to calls for the couple to kiss, by the attendees either pounding on the tables, tapping their glasses with eating utensils, or the “new” old tradition of ringing bells.
Some receptions have an open bar, and if the couple is lucky enough, no fights, no arguments, and no need for the police to intercede. Finally, there is the cake cutting ceremony and a time of reflection, should we or should we not smear cake in each other’s face.