Everyone filed (in an orderly German fashion) into the front room of the boat for the 2.5-hour tour that would take us around scenic Potsdam and Wannsee. This was probably the most painful part of the day for James as, at 6’9″, he had to stoop just to fit into the boat. Still, I had more pressing things on my mind, namely THE CAKE.
Luckily, Germans aren’t known for scrimping when it comes to portion sizes so, after queuing for a couple of minutes, I had a slice of cake roughly the size of my head. It was practically a meal in itself and would definitely keep me going until the actual meal later that evening.
I settled in with my new South African homies out on deck, taking in the views, listening to the tour guide and chatting to whomever came along. The Bridemama emerged and pulled a well-used piece of paper out of her bosom.
BM: Are you relative or friend?
It turned out that she’d written down several conversation openers – I’m not sure she could understand the answers but she somehow managed to pull it off. I later learned that Kat’s brother had, in recent weeks, been teaching her a few expressions in English but that she’d forgotten them all on the day. Hence, the cheat sheet – more German genius.
The boat docked after 1.5 hours to let the wedding party off for photos but not before I got a quick pic with the beautiful bride. The bright orange dress was deliberate as I’m not much of a swimmer (I sink like a stone) but I knew I’d be visible if I happened to go overboard.
The rest of us continued on, munching on our tiny traditional “English Afternoon Tea” sandwiches as we went. At 17.30, the boat docked, around a 5-minute walk from the reception venue. Taxis were available for those who wanted them, but most people chose to walk.
You know, villa, boat, palace… just an average day in the life for this expat.
The courtyard was decked out and champagne service beckoned. A bagpipe (Dudelsack haha!) player was standing off to the side waiting for the bride and groom to show up so I asked him if I could take a photo of him.
Me: What is the German word for “bride” anyway?
BP: Die Braut.
Me: Not to be confused with “das Brot”. (bread)
BP: Ha ha ha, NEIN!
I grabbed a glass of champagne and tottered around on the cobblestones a bit. A table full of kindly English people took pity on me and invited me to sit with them. Again, I had to explain my tenuous connection to the wedding party but thankfully, everyone seemed to think it was cool rather than downright weird.
In typical German fashion, an AGENDA for the evening was set out.
We all gathered to watch the German wedding tradition of log-sawing. Seemingly, it’s a demonstration of the couple’s abilities in teamwork. They were both given workman’s gloves, which really set off Kat’s dress, and then they got down to it.
I can’t say either of them will ever make it as lumberjacks but I hope they won’t have to. There probably isn’t much call for lumberjackmanship (I went a bit German there) in London anyway. We all gathered for the group photo and then it was time for the 4-course dinner.
I was seated at the same table as my new English buddies so chatting was easy. The girl beside me was a teacher so we had something in common. She was also alone as her husband was the best man and, therefore, seated at the top table, beside Santa. He looked like he was about to pass out from nerves at any second so his friends took it in turns to go up and distract him. At 6’7″, he would have gone down hard.
Dinner was delicious, and wine and conversation flowed. The waiter copped on pretty quickly that we were the high-maintenance table wine-wise and was always ready with a bottle.
Then it was time for the speeches. Santa Claus went first with a short speech in German. An English translation was distributed to the English-speaking guests. Then it was James’ turn. Bless him, he read his speech first in English and then in German. I admired his balls while mentally correcting his pronunciation (because I’m a bitch like that). Finally, it was the best man’s turn. He delivered his speech in English and there was a German translation given out to the German-speaking guests. More great organisation. He also didn’t faint, which was good.
Dessert (Riesling champagne ice-cream soufflé with strawberry and mint salad) followed and then it was time for the party to begin. A band was getting set up in the next room so we all headed in that direction, ready for the couple’s first dance. “We’ve only just begun” by The Carpenters. Perfect.
The band played all of the 60s and 70s greats, everyone danced (except me because I have two left feet) and a free bar ensured everyone was well-lubed. The night ended with a midnight Currywurst and Pommes snack and then buses were waiting to take everyone back to the city centre.
All in all, it was an amazing day. The way they integrated the two cultures/languages and made sure that everyone was included must have taken so much planning. There was no dead time, everyone had a ball, and most people saw something more of Berlin than they normally would have.
Kat and James, I tip my big, floppy hat to you and wish you all the best. Thank you both so much for having me (the random Irish blogger) at your special day.
And, if anyone else wants to invite me to their wedding, the answer is YES.