“The German Wedding Show”

My experiences while living in Germany again, as an American. This time, a wedding…

Considering the work that’s required to fulfill the many traditions in a typical German marriage ceremony, the country’s divorce rate really should be much lower. Hochzeit traditions vary from region to region and can be both fun and, for lack of a better term, somewhat peculiar. And I thought I had all the different cultural customs covered when I sat in a bookstore one day and scoured the pages of a book about the strange ways of Germans. But perhaps that was only the appetizer.

The weekend came quicker than we had realized and we boarded an early morning high-speed train to Konigslutter, Germany, for the big wedding of Kathleen’s friend. I wasn’t sure what to expect in a small German town with one castle and a dome church as its claim to fame. Nevertheless, I dragged our suitcase, with its broken right wheel and thin metal rod scraping the ground, out of the train station and in to the modest town.

We journeyed through the streets to a local bed and breakfast where we had our reservations for the evening. After knocking at the inn door for five minutes, to no avail, we placed a phone call to the very building we stood in front of. Moments later, a short, circular-shaped woman sporting a blonde mullet on HGH came barreling around the corner blabbing loudly in German. She gave us the room key and we were on our way.

The hotel rooms I stayed at in France were like grand suites compared to this place. The room was no bigger than a shoebox, and our suitcase could barely lie flat without hemorrhaging. But since this was a small town in the middle of nowhere, I decided to put the limited capacity situation behind me. When I learned of the no soap and shampoo news, however, things got ugly real fast. Kathleen and I engaged in a verbal spat about how I could acquire some soap and I mostly carried on like a high-maintenance catwalk model (desperation will make you do funny things).

When I finally stopped the pouting, a light bulb suddenly went off in my head: prime opportunity to conduct a soap-and-shampoo investigation. I immediately rushed down the stairs and into the first floor bathroom. Kathleen was tailgating my ass but I didn’t care. I started rummaging through someone’s personal belongings while faintly hearing over my shoulder, "You can’t just steal someone’s stuff!"

“You’re damn right I can," I shot back, looking around frantically.

But my mission soon turned sour, as I managed to find only a repugnant bottle of shampoo with more (unidentifiable) stains on it than a poopy diaper. I aborted and then slowly walked back up the stairs to our room, sullen and confused. Kathleen saved the day, however, shortly after. She asked the innkeeper for a small sample of soap and shampoo. I was happy again; life was grand.

We got dressed for the occasion in a single file (remember, the space issue?), then went up the road toward the Kaiserdom, where the ceremony was to take place. I remembered letting out a big sigh as I looked up at the beautiful sky on the walk over. The weather forecast had predicted rain, but there wasn’t a drop in sight. Only sunshine. Mother Nature must’ve known it was German wedding day.

A small trumpet band, a personable yet sincere priest, a smiling bride and groom, and roughly one hundred guests congregated for a traditional German Hochzeit. I had the pleasure of sitting behind the man I would later refer to as Zean-Claude Don Johnson, a French fellow who seemed more appropriately dressed for an evening out at a South Beach nightclub—but I suppose that’s how you roll if you’re a player: tan slacks and blazer, skin-tight short-sleeve black undershirt, and a blonde Don’s eighties hairdo. Kathleen’s friend gave me the Reader’s Digest version of the ceremony as we left the cathedral, and I understood some of what was spoken, and sung, for that matter. Yet, on this blissful day, the emotional state of the bride and groom didn’t require any sort of translation, as their perpetual happiness was evident.

After the ceremony, all of the guests gathered in front of the church to give their official congratulations to the newlyweds. What happened after that was something I hadn’t been privy to at past weddings. And it was all in the name of tradition: giant log on a stand plus a two-handled saw equals the bride and groom grinding away to sever a tree log in half.

“What if the saw blade gets caught on her dress?” I whispered to Kathleen. She looked me up and down, and then faced forward again to observe the log-sawing activity. If you think about it, though, it's a very committed act. If they can get through a tree sawing exercise together in their wedding attire, then any minor issue in their relationship would pale in comparison.

The guests gave a big applause upon completion of the lumberjack event and then the groom picked up the bride and carried her over three nicely decorated track and field hurdles. He knocked over the first one with his right leg but later redeemed himself with the two remaining hurdles, triumphantly stepping over them with bride in arms. Mission two complete.

The wedding crowd eventually circled around the newlyweds for a group picture. "Everybody here speaks English, right?” said the photographer. “Okay, squish together. Let’s go guys, squish together." Here I am thinking that this guy must be American. Who uses the word squish to a large German-speaking crowd? I later confronted him with a "finally, someone who speaks English here" comment. He was, as it turns out, an Aussie living in the States and the bride’s good friend.

The reception was held in the social function area of a really nice restaurant, the environment reminiscent of an American wedding. There was a gift table with pictures, arranged seating for the guests, a large dance floor, and a stage for the band. Once the guests got situated, drinks were served, along with a soup appetizer, and then wine, and more wine, and then more wine continued to be served throughout the evening.

While Kathleen, her friends, the photographer, and I were engaged in an intellectual debate about European vs. American food, Das Essen made its sleek entrance into the room, and then I took back everything I had said about European food being inferior. Buffet-style, the quality was perfect and the quantity was right on the money. I overindulged in the desserts, unable to resist sampling at least five different kinds of cakes, the German cheesecake and Black Forest being the frontrunners.

The wedding planning was methodical—it’s typical for Germans to plan things to the last detail, even in daily life. Dancing didn’t begin until well after the guests were finished eating, with some of the world's worst dancers in attendance, too. Zean-Claude Don Johnson was on his game, though. And speaking of games, there were a few, along with a vaudeville type Cinderella act behind a large white curtain, poems and stories about the bride and groom, a water candle and helium balloon mini-ceremony, small prizes issued for the pick-a-number activity, and a “dance” key, if you were unfortunate enough to be given one.

There were so many little activities happening throughout the night, some of which I neither understood nor could recall, but what I do remember is not receiving the opportunity to use my painting skills on the bride and groom’s wedding board. No regrets, as I’m convinced it would’ve been improper of me to spoil Kathleen’s defining moment as a watercolor artist.

In its entirety, the wedding celebration was one of good fun, unique rituals, rich culture, and wonderful food. And, evidently, time is not a restriction at German weddings. We carried on for ten hours and at two in the morning, we were still some of the first few to gracefully bow out. The only thing left to wonder is how much longer the rest had soldiered on at the German Wedding Show.

Comments

You are kidding.

They saw logs ? I knew they were into their deep German Black Forest history, but really?

One of my favorite bands is German. Pagans. They dress up alot, and the guy who grunts is really scary, but generally, to the woods they go, to dress up and dance and pound bones together.

Its possible there is a Jean-Claude Don Johnson in every wedding party (except will need to update the reference for a younger crowd). What would Miami Vice be wearing, today?

Mostly I've sworn them off (weddings). A recent American version, my daughter's best friend she has known for 25 years, I was compelled to attend.
The reception included varied entertainments such as: belly dancing, a silly photo booth and the mariachi band. One set of parents were rumored to be put into considerable debt.

But a particular couple, they knew how to dance. And most of the reception, was spent simply watching this older couple move across the dance floor. Magical. Enchanting.

In my next life, I'm asking for more dancing.
 
I think it’s just a tradition in the Bavarian region of Germany, but nonetheless, quite, um, interesting.

That’s a really good question. What would Miami Vice be wearing today? I would have to call on my teenage nephews for that answer.

More dancing is certainly a reasonable request. You and Sunshine, if you feel so inclined, could even start a dance revolution the next time around!
 
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I always love wedding traditions (when we actually went to them) in different parts of our own country, or foreign ones.

I don't recall that we had dancing at our wedding....my mother planned it and most of the people I'd ever had contact with growing up were invited. Poor things....first the wedding in the a.m., then they went home and we had a wedding brunch, followed by an afternoon reception for what seems like the entire town.

Presents were brought to the wedding, and cake and punch were served. Rod's mother and stepfather arrived the evening before from England...first meeting. We actually took them on our honeymoon with us...not that we could afford to do much of anything. His stepfather was incredibly "budget aware" should we say? Money was never a problem IF he wanted to spend it which included repayign my mother, a penniless widow, for the rehearsal dinner in a local bar! What can I say.....this was 1967.

Confetti stuffed everywhere and tin cans on the back of the car were still common then. No bridal registries and to this day I still have most of the hand-embroidered pillowcases or towels that were gifts. We gave my mother all of our wedding money to cover the cost of the reception.

Years later we had a very upscale wedding for our daughters, the oldest first. Wonderful band complete with bandstands, gorgeous flowers and a sit-down dinner. Was she happy a couple of years later? Nope! She wanted a southern buffet. Tough....she planned everything herself. *I wasn't allowed any say....for that she paid for her own wedding gown). Weddings are getting totally out of hand today. Customs are good and it's nice to see them respected.

My reason for dislike of the typical buffet dinner? Have you ever tried to find a table to sit at after you fill up your plate? Something about no money, traditional trappings (the cans on the car), still resonate with me. Also, it's a day for the guests....not the bride as we so often hear.

I expect our granddaughter's wedding, planned by our daughter will be the next wedding we attend. It's guaranteed that it will be at THE country club in Dallas and will include a buffet. We'll skip that part of it.

Our other daughter was married on an island. Very nice, but hard for the guests to attend. She never complained about anything. Grandchildren have come and are either in or almost ready for college. We have very caring daughters and are most fortunate. But illness and weddings can be tough!

Interesting story about Germany. Yours, Lenora.
 
I always love wedding traditions (when we actually went to them) in different parts of our own country, or foreign ones.

I don't recall that we had dancing at our wedding....my mother planned it and most of the people I'd ever had contact with growing up were invited. Poor things....first the wedding in the a.m., then they went home and we had a wedding brunch, followed by an afternoon reception for what seems like the entire town.

Presents were brought to the wedding, and cake and punch were served. Rod's mother and stepfather arrived the evening before from England...first meeting. We actually took them on our honeymoon with us...not that we could afford to do much of anything. His stepfather was incredibly "budget aware" should we say? Money was never a problem IF he wanted to spend it which included repayign my mother, a penniless widow, for the rehearsal dinner in a local bar! What can I say.....this was 1967.

Confetti stuffed everywhere and tin cans on the back of the car were still common then. No bridal registries and to this day I still have most of the hand-embroidered pillowcases or towels that were gifts. We gave my mother all of our wedding money to cover the cost of the reception.

Years later we had a very upscale wedding for our daughters, the oldest first. Wonderful band complete with bandstands, gorgeous flowers and a sit-down dinner. Was she happy a couple of years later? Nope! She wanted a southern buffet. Tough....she planned everything herself. *I wasn't allowed any say....for that she paid for her own wedding gown). Weddings are getting totally out of hand today. Customs are good and it's nice to see them respected.

My reason for dislike of the typical buffet dinner? Have you ever tried to find a table to sit at after you fill up your plate? Something about no money, traditional trappings (the cans on the car), still resonate with me. Also, it's a day for the guests....not the bride as we so often hear.

I expect our granddaughter's wedding, planned by our daughter will be the next wedding we attend. It's guaranteed that it will be at THE country club in Dallas and will include a buffet. We'll skip that part of it.

Our other daughter was married on an island. Very nice, but hard for the guests to attend. She never complained about anything. Grandchildren have come and are either in or almost ready for college. We have very caring daughters and are most fortunate. But illness and weddings can be tough!

Interesting story about Germany. Yours, Lenora.
:heart::heart:
 
My wedding was a party. We just signed papers, very unromantic. Made no declarations. Expecting no ring, a random ring of my mothers which didn't fit me, made an appearance. There were some awkward speeches, and three photographers resulted in we had no official real wedding pictures (the only thing we could get out of the Primary photographer were proofs). (in reference to film, in the none digital era).

Most of our dead friends, now exist as proofs. Proof They Once Were Alive. Any number of them, are no longer walking around this time.

Mostly my mom planned out the decor. And put together the Buffet. Everybody did have a really good time. It was pouring rain the entire time.

As the participant, one remembers very little. Did I even speak to the guests?
 
More dancing is certainly a reasonable request.
You would think. Mostly, American men do not dance. Not any I've ever met. I'm sure there are exceptions somewhere.

Certain cultures keep dancing. I recall a Hispanic gentleman, doing some work at our place, he takes his wife out dancing every Sunday (often after the soccer game). The look on his face, that he gave me, when I indicated no, we do not go out dancing.

He felt really sorry for me.
 
a random ring of my mothers which didn't fit me, made an appearance.
how many decades do we live before we think? It never occurred to me that my Mother obviously asked my "future husband" about rings and he indicated he hadn't bothered. My Mom- fished out hers she no longer could wear.

Its here: very fragile I don' t wear it. I wear my Mother In Law's ring, with more and bigger rocks.
 
I went online and examined any number of photographs documenting this log sawing operation. I was impressed.

What do you call the: saw horse things? ....those vary considerably as did the saw of choice. a two handled long saw seems like it makes the most sense, historically and symbolically speaking. And less likely to also eat the dress.

I saw they also have a break the ceramics event, and the couple must clean up the broken shards, together.

My daughter had hoped to pull off the wedding in an exotic place, and all your friends come. But that proved too taxing. She had to go on with living her actual life.

She got as far as obtaining a dress, and printing invitations. I got to be the mom with an overactive bladder, missing out on the dress fittings. Like in the TV commercial.

But the venue: was an issue. So I found myself one afternoon, parked at an intersection in southern Mexico, watching street dogs, while my daughter and her fiancé attempt to line up a Bruha (witch) who will bribe a priest (Priest) so they can get married in the biggest, fanciest church: Up On the Big Hill. (Soledad)

I had a great time, just waiting in the car. I botanized some weeds around a phone pole, the area very important to the nearby Street Dogs.

It felt really exciting. Plus, well at that moment, I was not as sick as I now am. I was envisioning, in the car, that I'd find a bruja, myself, and do some healing ceremonies and evict this pathogen. And then I'd be well.

So mostly, I was planning my wellness, there waiting in the car March, 2018.

Back at wedding rituals: they do a dance with a turkey, down there. Not my daughter's in-laws. No, they would never agree to allow the turkey dance.

FYI: (the formal wedding never happened, my daughter is having her second child now).
 
I went online and examined any number of photographs documenting this log sawing operation. I was impressed.

What do you call the: saw horse things? ....those vary considerably as did the saw of choice. a two handled long saw seems like it makes the most sense, historically and symbolically speaking. And less likely to also eat the dress.

I saw they also have a break the ceramics event, and the couple must clean up the broken shards, together.

My daughter had hoped to pull off the wedding in an exotic place, and all your friends come. But that proved too taxing. She had to go on with living her actual life.

She got as far as obtaining a dress, and printing invitations. I got to be the mom with an overactive bladder, missing out on the dress fittings. Like in the TV commercial.

But the venue: was an issue. So I found myself one afternoon, parked at an intersection in southern Mexico, watching street dogs, while my daughter and her fiancé attempt to line up a Bruha (witch) who will bribe a priest (Priest) so they can get married in the biggest, fanciest church: Up On the Big Hill. (Soledad)

I had a great time, just waiting in the car. I botanized some weeds around a phone pole, the area very important to the nearby Street Dogs.

It felt really exciting. Plus, well at that moment, I was not as sick as I now am. I was envisioning, in the car, that I'd find a bruja, myself, and do some healing ceremonies and evict this pathogen. And then I'd be well.

So mostly, I was planning my wellness, there waiting in the car March, 2018.

Back at wedding rituals: they do a dance with a turkey, down there. Not my daughter's in-laws. No, they would never agree to allow the turkey dance.

FYI: (the formal wedding never happened, my daughter is having her second child now).
I agree, the two-handled saw is probably best! Btw, how does your daughter like living in Mexico?
 
Btw, how does your daughter like living in Mexico?
She loves it there. She went down for a vacation, met somebody, decided it felt like home, and plotted her life relocating entirely.

Leaving us perplexed. Wait, this was the plan?

We are supposedly headed there too. Only we're now old and getting older fast. I won't be able to do much it now seems obvious.

I'm up for it as the alternative is I'll end up alone. Most likely.
 

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