A month ago in Albany, NY, I was the wedding disc jockey for a younger Lithuanian couple, proud of their roots. They were good people, so I can understand why their guests wanted to shower them with money, but something at this wedding was different. These cash gifts were not in card-form at the gift table, but rather people showering the dance floor …with coins!
As the first dance came to an end, the wedding party rushed to pour tons of silver dollars, quarters, and smaller coins, all around the dance floor corners. When the newlyweds finally made their exit, the guests frantically moved in to pick up the coins to fill a tall glass vase on the head table. Eventually, a lucky guest held the specially marked coin in the air and demanded his dance with the bride.
I since learned that the Lithuanian love coin wedding tradition originated from a 1500’s Lithuanian town legend that would later resurface as a fad in the 1800’s. Here is what our Disc Jockeys at TheDJservice.com could find about the original story that transformed into the wedding tradition we have today:
THE LITHUANIAN LOVE COIN LEGEND: In a small Lithuanian village in the 1500’s, a young man did not have enough money to buy his girlfriend an engagement ring. With the country involved in one of the many Muscovite–Lithuanian Wars, most men didn’t have much money and had to be creative. What this man chose to do to profess his undying love, was to provide his bride-to-be with a personalized gift. He took a coin and spent many hours cleaning it, sanding it, and overall, turning it into a piece of beautiful art. When he finished, one side now had a beautiful dove and both of their initials. When he presented this treasure to his lady and proposed, she of course said “yes.” But the ceremony was, unfortunately, not to happen anytime soon. Soon after the proposal, the man was drafted off to war and would not able to first marry his true love for another ten years.
In the meantime, she waited. As a symbol of their love, she treasured the coin and kissed it every night before bed, awaiting his return. One night, however, thieves broke into her house and stole her very few valuables and also put the coin in a bag. The girl awoke the next morning and was heartbroken.
After ten years, the man finally returned to his home town as a hero. His bride-to-be had waited eagerly and was very elated with his return, but very sad to confess the loss of the coin he had made for her. The man comforted her and decided to waste no more time. They planned their wedding for the weekend. The next day, the entire village passed word of the news. Come the weekend, the whole town came to what was supposed to be a small wedding ceremony to show thanks to the man who fought so bravely for them for many years.
The guests felt badly, however, when no rings were exchanged during the ceremony. They realized that the couple had no money. They learned that the wife had recently been robbed and decided to do something about it. Between the ceremony and the reception, the villagers ran home. When they returned to the reception hall, they brought with them lots of great food and presents to show thanks to their war hero.
As tradition, the couple entered the reception hall last. They drank wine and ate salt and bread to symbolize joy, tears, and work; the three main elements of a life together. Then they were surprised with an even better feast from the thankful guests. During dinner, word got out that the bride’s belongings and their precious love coin had been stolen less than a year before the groom’s return. When the first dance began, the villagers emptied their pockets and purses in merriment onto the floor, as gifts to start the home the new husband and wife.
As the guests collected the money for the couple in a flower vase, a curious thing happened. The original love coin was, in fact, found. It had been re-circulated and passed around the village and ended up in one of the guest’s pockets! The coin was happily returned to the couple who danced with it’s finder in celebration. As the story goes, they lived happily ever after.
THE LITHUANIAN LOVE COIN WEDDING TRADITION LIVES ON: Today, some Lithuanians re-live this beautiful love story, in memory of this couple and the good people of the village. The guests bring loads of silver dollars, half dollars and quarters to weddings and throw them all over the dance floor. One of the coins is marked with bride and groom’s initials. At the end of the first dance, the wedding party collect all of the coins for the newly weds and fill a clear vase, and the lucky person who finds the “love coin” gets a special dance immediately with either the bride or groom for their find.
LOVE COINS – If you are considering doing this tradition at your reception, you can make your very own Lithuanian love coin, buy a hobo nickel, or you can try to find a vintage one with their initials on it. There are many vintage ones on ebay and at: Love Tokens: Engraved Coins.
Albany Weddings DJ Kenny Casanova is an event disc jockey for "The DJ Service.com" out of Upstate, NY. He has been DJ’ing for over 15 years transitioned out of sports announcing into becoming one of the best Wedding DJs in his area.
Winning awards and "BEST OF" titles from Capital Region Living Magazine and Metroland, DJ Kenny Casanova is well sought-after and is booked solid with a few gigs every weekend. For booking information, call 518-506-3305.
Visit www.theDJservice.comDJ Kenny Casanova for more information about how to keep everyone happy at a wedding reception.