Although weddings are essentially a manifestation of the same experience the world over, the experience varies dramatically between groups, as traditions and expectations differ.
So far, most of the weddings I have attended have been Maltese weddings, all of which followed the same pattern with minor divergences. However, when a few years ago I was in Germany on an internship and was invited to my supervisor’s civil wedding I was quite surprised with some of the things that were done there – what with party games and ‘bring-food-to-share’ features…I definitely did not expect that!
On the 28th of August I attended a second wedding in Germany, this time of Dennis, a friend we met in Prague, and Jenny. Although this wedding had some similarities to the Maltese weddings, there were also some aspects which appeared quite German (or Northern European maybe?) to me. So for my Maltese readers (any of you there?), and for all others interested in a Maltese perspective, here it goes! (You can read a Danes’ perspective on a Maltese wedding here)
First of all the wedding was quite small – 59 people all included. We all arrived at the church, including some people not invited to the reception it seems, and packed into a tiny church which just about fit us all in.
Service started at 4pm on the dot! Although I couldn’t understand much, I liked the fact that it was short and personal. There was also a gospel choir which I liked, but not sure if all the others did.
Following the service the couple then exited the church where they greeted all their guests. There was also a small ‘ceremony’ where a number of doves were let off into the air, which I quite liked.
Also, as Jenny is a school teacher, the kids she teaches (in another town) surprised her and came out to greet her outside the church. They also came to greet the couple as they arrived at the reception hall, before returning back home with the teachers which were accompanying them.
The wedding party was held in a ‘wasserschloss’, or water castle. I liked the idea – it sounded romantic! When we arrived we were all given balloons which we released into the air when the bride and groom arrived at the venue at 6:30pm (on the dot, as advertised!).
Having had our first drink we were then led to an upstairs banquet hall where the dinner was to be held. Unlike most Maltese weddings, where food is served throughout the night in the form of canapés mainly (with a few buffet tables sometimes), in Germany sit-down meals seem to be the norm. We were served soup in our places, before the bride and groom declared the buffet open and everyone went over to get their food. Unlike in most Maltese events however there wasn’t much pushing and shoving to get to the food (though some people didn’t seem to understand the concept of a queue!), and I think there was more than enough food for everyone. During the meal there were also speeches from parents and friends.
Following the meal it was then time for the dancing! So now we went back downstairs to a marquee in the garden where two musicians entertained us throughout the night as we danced.
Games and Activities
Another German tradition which I mentioned earlier was the party games. In Malta you do that a kid’s birthday parties…and that’s about it! In Germany you seem to drag them into weddings as well.
At the first wedding I found the games quite childish, as they included games such as who threads the most needles in a time period, or putting a string up and down the clothes of a group of people. I was not expecting much better this time, but I was pleasantly surprised with the activities planned for this wedding, and some of them I wouldn’t mind having at my own wedding if we ever get round to that!
One of the activities was that everyone wrote an activity they would want to do with the couple. These were then stuck onto a board, and the couple threw darts at them. The first three they hit would be done and the person writing the event would have to pay for the activity, while the next three they hit would be activities for which the couple would pay themselves. I heard of other versions of this at the wedding from guests. I think it is a good way of the couple giving time following the wedding to their friends (and the fact that you won’t know if you have to organise and pay for it or them and that you are expected to participate means that the activities are not too crazy and/or expensive!).
Another activity organised was that an empty frame was brought by the parents and everyone had a photo of them ‘taken in the frame’. These photos were then immediately printed and put in the guest book, in which all the guests wrote something to the couple. Also, friends were given a post-card on the back of which we wrote our address and theirs and something to the couple. Not sure what will happen with them…but we did it.
The last ‘game’ that was organised was that some friends gave their gift to the couple in a chest which was locked by four locks. The keys to the locks were then given to two girls and two guys. The groom had to then dance with each girl till he got the two keys, and the bride with the guys. Only when all four keys were collected could the gift be opened. This means that the couple get to mingle…and they get a gift!
One last thing which caught my eye was the way money was given as gifts. In Malta we normally just place the money in an envelope and then give it at the wedding. Not in Germany! Here the friends took the time to create scenes such as ‘at the beach’, with the money incorporated into the design. That is so creative!
Although this wedding was different to what I am used to, I still had a great time. I felt it to be less formal to what I am used to, and so could relax a bit more.
Congratulations to Herr and Frau Herrmann!