Sunday, September 20, 2009

German Wedding

I went to a German Wedding yesterday. It was my first German wedding, and second international wedding I've ever attended (see "Dont Go to Africa to Get a Tan" post from 2006, here ).
Just like in America, each wedding is a little different, because every couple is different, but here are some things you might find interesting, different from America, about the German wedding I attended:

  • The only people who walked down the aisle were the pastor, the bride, and the groom, the latter who walked in together. There were no bridesmaids or groomsmen. There was a "wedding party" at the reception, which I will get to later
  • One thing I still find funny about German church services in general is that they sit when they sing and they stand up when they pray. Still feels backwards to me, even after 6 months here.
  • The bride and the groom were sitting down during the ceremony (though some couples do this in the States too, -cough- Mom and Dad!)
  • In the same way that some couples in the States choose to write their own vows, this couple chose to write their own prayers. Each said their prayer for the marriage, asking God specifically in the same way that those here write vows, to bless their marriage and their care for the other.
  • After the bride and groom walked out of the sanctuary, we threw flower petals and then there was a big champagne toast and snacks. I've always thought it will be difficult to make a guest list for my wedding, because I know you can't afford to invite everyone you know. In Germany, you can invite everyone you know -- to the ceremony and the champagne toast, where the receiving line is -- and then you drive off to the reception with your guests. I like this system, and intend to bring it to America.
  • The reception lasts ten times longer than it does in America. Okay maybe I'm exaggerating, but it lasts a long time. The first few hours involve eating, of course, and then also an evening program when friends and family of the bride and groom do things like show slide shows of the couple growing up, or playing funny games and skits. In addition, since the reception lasts the whole night, there were activities to do throughout the reception hall -- you could buy a Wedding Newspaper, for example, that talked all about the couple, or play foosball, or paint on a canvas that would later be given to the bride and groom to hang in their new house.
  • Around midnight, after the evening program is finished, then comes cake and coffee -- at this reception, the wedding cake, and then various tiramisu-type desserts, tortes, and cakes, made by friends of the couple (I'm a big fan of this potluck approach-- saves on catering costs!) The coffee, of course, is for the night ahead
  • I thought I knew to dance, but Germans REALLY know how to dance. The first couple songs were Waltzes, and there were a LOT of couples out on the floor! Ballroom dancing is a phenomenon that is coming back in Germany -- there is no high school prom, but there are a lot of teens to take ballroom dancing classes, and at the end of the class, have a "Ball" where all the girls buy pretty dresses and have to pick cute dates that they'll dance with -- similar to the Prom effect in America, but man, way cooler because they can actually dance!
  • After the Waltzes came a little Top-40 music, which was fun, but the party really happened around 1am, when the Top-40 got switched to German New Wave music of the 80s, and everyone suddenly knew all the words and got very into it. I'm personally not a huge fan of German New Wave music, and also sometimes have the feeling that Germany as is stuck in the 1980s, musically. If I had a dime for every time "Summer of 69" and "It's Raining Men" came on the radio...But it was fun none the less!
Weddings are such joyful experiences. I went to a wedding when I was home in the States, too, and I really like what they are. A church service, where you celebrate together commitment to God and one another, witnessed by a whole church full of people who know and love you and who you know and love, there because they care about you and promise to support you. THEN, a sweet party with this same community!

And as I danced to German New Wave music, and reflected on my own wedding (don't get any ideas Mom, there's no one in the picture, just a dream!), I wonder where it will be and who will be there. I've been ruminating a lot about community lately, and how we define it. Especially how young people who travel around and whose parents and siblings live in different countries construct community. My music will have to be Top-40, French Jazz, Chicago Hip-hop, African drum beats, and the Beatles -- and that's just to cover my own tastes and life story, not to mention my guests'!

So here I go thinking about my future, where I'll go after this year in Germany -- whether I should stay here, stay in Europe, or go back to America. This process is making me realize that the choices I make now about where I put roots down will probably have a lot to say not only about whose weddings I'll be attending, but also who is going to make it to my wedding, including the groom! Feels to me like a weighty thing to thing about. Who will be dancing to the Beatles with me?

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