Wedding Planning for Beginners

As of last Thursday, I have a year until my wedding. At the moment, the enormity of the event is so far away that to be perfectly honest, it all seems imaginary. Thankfully, having a German fiancée means that we’reactually ahead of schedule. This is despite her obvious handicap of having a thoroughly disorganised British almost husband. Although I’ve been to weddings before, I hadn’t fully appreciated how much effort goes into the planning and realisation of any couples big day. This especially true when the happy couple are from different countries. Every culture has its own peculiar wedding traditions, and trying to fit two different expectations into one day might seem overly ambitious. Then again, slamming two cultures together like atoms can’t possibly cause any adverse effects, can it?

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The first hurdle we had to navigate was where we would hold the nuptials. For ordinary couples, that might mean simply finding a venue, for us it meant picking a country. Sure, we could have had it Britain, but the idea of celebrating the happiest day of our lives with overcast skies and a 70% chance of rain really didn’t mean there was much to decide. Germany it is. Then comes the question of venue. Over one weekend we visited hotels, a mill, a monastery and a series of local Wirtschafts (think pub/restaurant but with more Lederhosen). As attractive as hanging out with a load of monks sounds, what with their culture of beer making, retro clothing choices and all day praying sessions, we opted for the mill. With the venue secured, I thought we had at least completed the biggest task. Turns out I was wrong.

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With anything in Germany, at some point you will be faced with the cold dead eyes of German bureaucracy. It’s not that bureaucrats are actually dead inside, it’s just that they must have their souls removed and put into cold storage until retirement. This is of course a slight problem when you want to plan a wedding. Emotionally vacant people do tend to suck all the fun out of a room. That’s perhaps why, as part of German marriage law, a bureaucrat must perform weddings. Due to this stipulation, weddings are sometimes a two day affair, with a civil ceremony first and then a religious one. Although I’ve been assured that these events are not as cold and heartless as I’ve assumed, I am slightly worried that I’ll walk into a room with Bureau-bot 3000 who will scan our retinas and then spend six hours coldly running through the miniature of marriage law. I suppose the upside might be that it can process my tax returns at the end.

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So, with the venue sorted and the laws navigated I thought things might get a little easier. Turns out that was simply blind optimism on my part. When it comes to weddings, nothing is ever going to be simple. Even finding something to wear is a long protracted process, with pitfalls at every turn. Even choosing something to wear is becoming a headache. Normally, selecting an outfit should really only be an issue for the bride, actually in Germany, this has become my problem too. In Britain, it’s a simple case find suit, rent suit, go to the pub. In Germany, suit rental appears to be a very foreign concept, unless you want to rent some Lederhosen. Want some leather pants some other guy wore? No problem, go right ahead. Want a suit? Sorry, that is just crazy talk. Why don’t I just buy one for €500? If I have to buy the damn thing, I’m going to wear it. Everyday. In fact it will be my life’s mission to be eventually be buried in the thing. I suppose the other option would be to rent an outfit from the costume shop in town, although I’m not sure my fiancée would allow me to get married dressed in a full suit of armour or as Elvis.

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Two other aspects of the wedding have begun to make me wonder. One, I will have to make some kind of speech. The other, I will at some point have to learn to dance. The first I think, with a little coaching, may be easily solved. Perhaps some kind of elaborate subtitling might be the answer. The other problem, however, may not be so easily accomplished. People often claim to have two left feet, I wish I was so lucky. Instead, I believe I have the dancing equivalent of two left hands, with the thumbs removed. It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for the German tradition of doing a waltz as the first dance. I thought I could get away with some awkward shuffling, I now know different. Perhaps it won’t be so bad, then again I’ve already purchased some lady like steel toe-capped boots so, should the worst happen, I have no chance of breaking the majority of my fiancée’s toes.

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Despite these problems, I much more interested in seeing how a small German village reacts to the mass invasion of British folks. Another, more pressing concern might be how these British visitors react to an open bar. Either way it’s going to get very interesting, very quickly. As the behemoth that is my wedding rolls inevitably towards 2014 and all my conversations begin to involve some level of discussion about flowers and place cards, I’ll try not to turn all my blogs into wedding related insanity. Then again, unlike my wedding vows, I can’t make any promises.

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2 thoughts on “Wedding Planning for Beginners

  1. In the years that I have spent both as a wedding photographer and wedding planner nothing prepares you for the day that you go through the process yourself. Even though I live in Australia my family are from Austria and when I married an Aussie girl our two cultures collided head on. What should have been easy and fun turned into a battle of European culture versus Australian (well what passes as Australian culture). But I must say that that it was well worth the effort that it took to combine the two of us as we are very happy and been married over 20 years, so don’t despair about the ruthless German efficiency of the bureaucrats it will be well worth it when you look back in 20 years and laugh.

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