Tag Archives: Wedding

Hat, heels, Hochzeit (1)

“Hochzeit” is the rather unromantic-sounding German word for “wedding” and, as you may recall, I received an invitation to my first German wedding some time ago. Kat and James’ big day arrived last Saturday. I’d been looking forward to it for months so I was a bit surprised when a fit of nerves kicked in at the last minute.

I was going to a wedding where I knew nobody except the bride – and had only met her once.

Me: What if nobody talks to me?

Han: You’ll be fine. 

Me: Oh God. What if they put me at the virtual table? 

Han: What?

Me: You know, all the guests who couldn’t make it. It will be me and seven iPads shooting the shit over champers.

Han: (Sigh) You’ll be fine.

My mother had told me fascinators were all the rage so I decided to go with the biggest, floppiest hat I could find. I slipped on my 6-inch wedge heels and, at that moment, realised how crap clutch bags are. My flip-flops, wallet, hair brush, perfume and make-up would have to go. Luckily, living in Latvia had trained me well in the art of staying upright in high heels for extended periods of time.

I teetered my way to the Park Inn Hotel where a coach was waiting to take us to the wedding venue. The groom was English so the coach would contain me and around 65 of his nearest and dearest. Everyone else seemed to know each other and I had a premonition of being “that strange Irish girl who knows nobody and writes a blog” for 14 hours or so.

I needn’t have worried. Chatty Charlie sat down behind me and proceeded to talk my ear off for the next 45 minutes. Keeping the conversation going wasn’t an issue as he did that all by himself. He didn’t even realise I wasn’t German until around minute 44. Eventually, we pulled up outside Villa Schöningen in Potsdam.

The rather lovely gardens
The rather lovely gardens

The groom (I assumed from the pictures I’d seen on Facebook) was greeting people on the steps so I hung back a bit until most people had gone inside. This gave me the opportunity to have a quick chat with the bride’s aunt and her friend. I could tell they were Berliners from fifty paces – brightly coloured hair, sparkly outfits and dirty laughs. Maybe I’d be OK after all…

We made our way inside and took our seats. Unfortunately, there would be a slight delay as the taxi that was due to pick up Kat’s parents hadn’t shown up. Her mother bustled in around ten minutes later, all smiles, bright red hair and shimmery blue dress.

BM: HALLO! I AM THE… (that pause when you start a sentence in a foreign language then realise you have no idea how to finish it) BRIDEMAMA! 

The bridesmaids followed shortly afterwards and then Kat walked in, looking stunning in her white dress and accompanied by Santa Claus – no mean feat in the middle of June.

The beautiful bride and her dad/Santa
The beautiful bride and her dad/Santa

Kat and James kissed when they met at the top of the room, only to be reprimanded by the rather stern registrar with a “NOT YET!” The room erupted and the tone was set for the rest of the ceremony. I have to say, it was probably the nicest, most personal ceremony I’ve ever attended. There was no religious nonsense, just the story of how they met, fell in love, what they love about each other, and their hopes for the future – all delivered with classic German directness, in English and German.

While the registrar was talking, the rings were passed around the room so that everyone had the chance to instill their best wishes for the couple in the rings. I thought that you probably wouldn’t be able to do that in Ireland as someone would nick them, but what a lovely tradition.

The happy couple
The happy couple

Once they were married (and allowed to kiss), we all made our way out to the gardens. We were each given a little cup of confetti which I managed to throw all over the head and shoulders of the man in front of me. Ho-hum. Another German tradition was about to begin – the releasing of the doves, or Taubenwerfen in German. (I just made that up.)

They both looked a little nervous as the doves were handed to them. I can’t say I blamed Kat. If I was wearing a white dress and had a Scheiße-risk in my hand, I’d look a bit nervous too.

Putting a brave face on it
Putting a brave face on it

Kat’s aunt in my ear: Oh! Maybe we can make “puff puff” (while making a shooting motion with her finger). 

I may have snorted some champagne out of my nose.

Fly, my pretties!
Fly, my pretties!

The two birds were released without incident and then another five or six were let out of the wicker box at their feet.

And they're off!
And they’re off!

Everybody cheered and nobody got shat on. Total win.

While I was sipping my champagne, a couple approached me. I remembered them from the bus; they’d been giving me sympathetic glances as my ears nearly fell off. They turned out to be South African, living in London, and knew hardly anyone at the wedding either. They were really good fun and interesting, well-travelled people. We decided to stick together as none of us wanted to talk about the England match or Brexit.

The wedding planner rounded us up and we were off to our next adventure – a 2.5-hour boat tour. As we walked over Glienicke Bridge (the Bridge of Spies), the Bridemama stood in the middle – the  old divide between East and West – stopping the English guests and giving them a quick history lesson.

The Bridge of Spies
The Bridge of Spies

Germans never miss the chance for a bit of education.

Part two coming shortly – there will be cake. Oh yes, there will be cake…

Wedded Bliss

Amazingly, I’m not bound and gagged on someone’s basement floor, but am, rather, alive and kicking in Berlin.

I’ve settled into my temporary home in Wedding, which I have until the 23rd of September. The old guy who owns it is currently in hospital so, most of the time, I have the place to myself. However, he does pop in every day (colostomy bag in tow) to give me helpful pointers on how to use various household objects in a more German way. For example, this is unacceptable behaviour in Germany:

NEIN!
NEIN!

After my previous lecture on how to hang up a dish towel correctly, I thought I’d just let things dry naturally from then on and avoid the whole dish towel issue altogether. Now Hermann comes in every day (at unexpected times) and puts everything away where I can’t find it neatly. We’re a bit like an Irish-German ‘Odd Couple’ – after I’ve spent the whole of the previous day unintentionally deGermanising the place, he comes round and reGermanises it, tutting good-naturedly at my slovenly ways.

However, fun as this is, the prospect of being homeless in under two weeks is gnawing at me so I’ve lined up a couple of flat viewings for tomorrow. (One woman replied saying she wanted someone ‘god-fearing’ so I ruled that one out.) After chatting to some people, I’ve decided to just go for a room in an apartment for the first few months and look for my own place a bit further down the line.

I thought my luck was in last night. I’d been at an English language stand-up comedy night in JÄÄ-ÄÄR (Estonian for ‘iceberg’) and afterwards headed back to Offside on the off chance my new buddy might be there. He wasn’t but I did meet a red-headed German named Paddy, complete with leprechaun tattoo, who offered me his spare room. It seemed like fate but it turns out I’d have to buy a bed so that’s not going to fly. Moral of the story – don’t get excited over things that happen while drinking green shots that taste like Listerine.

There’s not much to report on the job front yet (but I do have an interview on Thursday) so instead, I thought I’d make a little list of things that I’m looking forward to in Germany.

1. More sausage than I can handle – and just good-quality meat in general. Take that as you will.

2014-09-13 18.51.41
Giant sausage

 

2. Order, rules, systems… it’s going to make such a pleasant change.

3. Being surrounded by polite, considerate, helpful, cheerful people – and yes, I do mean the Germans. Except when they’re in Primark on a Saturday afternoon – then they’re just scary.

4. Sex in German – ja, ja, oh mein Gott, schneller, schneller, ja, ja, das ist ausgezeichnet… what a sexy language.

5. Learning German so that I can understand what’s going on during the sex.

And that pretty much brings us up to date!