Sunday, June 10, 2012

First Village Wedding

Yesterday was my second wedding of the year but it was my first Czech village wedding.  Katka needed a date for her cousin's wedding so I was her "plus one".  The wedding was held in Nedašov which is around 200 km southeast of Brno, about 4 km from the Slovak border.  It took around 3.5 hours to get there on Friday night using the regional train because it stopped at almost every little village along the way.  No joke, at one point, the train stopped three times in a five minute period.  

Like the last wedding there were lots of things which were different from a traditional American wedding.  And even more this time since it was a small village wedding.  On Saturday morning, we had to be at the local community center by 9 AM for goulash soup.  The groom's side of the family was upstairs and the bride's side of the family was downstairs.  Maybe all Czech wedding festivities start this early but goulash soup for breakfast was a little unusual.  It did give me a chance to meet some of the bride's family before the actual ceremony.  Especially when by 9:15 they were passing out the first shots of slivovice followed by half-liters of beer.  Goulash soup, slivovice and beer all by 9:30 in the morning...I just knew that this was going to be a long day.

The Wedding Slivovice
Around 10:30, we all walked up to the Catholic church for the ceremony.  I helped with a couple of errands.  Most importantly we delivered boxes of sweets and bottles of slivovice to the priest and to the members of the orchestra.

Before the wedding started, we all went in to the church but didn't sit down.  We lined the pews so that everyone got to see the bride as she entered.  Then we sat down in the pews for the ceremony.  Again, no bridesmaids or groomsmen; just two witnesses.  There were four chairs up at the front.  Two for the bride and groom to use during the ceremony and two chairs behind them for their witnesses.  Mass took about an hour.  We then lined up down the aisle again before the married couple could exit the church.  Then as everyone exited the church, we congratulated the couple.  While everyone was in queue to wish Maruška and Kamil well, the family started passing out sweets and more shots of slivovice.  

Then we all followed the newlyweds back to the community center for more traditions.  The bride and groom had a few responsibilities to take care of before we could enter.  First they both had to take a shot of slivovice.  Then the plate was broken and they had to gather all of the pieces with a dustpan and a hand broom.  Apparently the in-laws didn't think it was difficult enough so pieces were broken in to even smaller pieces.  Then after Kamil chopped some wood we all went in to the hall for lunch.

I lucked out because we were sat at the main family table so I got a great view of all of the festivities.  Everyone was given a glass of martini.  (I'll explain the martini thing later).  There was a toast made to the happy couple and then lunch was served.  First we had vývar which is a broth soup with thin noodles.  It's basically chicken noodle soup with liver ball dumplings.  The couple were draped in a sheet and had to feed each other soup.  At the last wedding the soup spoon had a hole in it; not this time.  Then out came platters of roast turkey, cabbage and knedliky (Czech dumplings).  Followed by more sweets and coffee.  On every table were bottles of slivovice so everyone helped themselves to additional shots.

After lunch the party started.  Lots of traditional dancing and a few skits followed by even more dancing.  Later on, a second wave of food was brought out as a buffet.  I have never seen so much food in my life.  I would have thought I was on a cruise ship.  There was all kinds of roast pork, chicken, turkey, schnitzel and every possible salad you could think of.

There were only a few people at the wedding who could speak English plus two or three people with bad German but I pretty well managed with my bad Czech.  It's always amazing to me that it doesn't really matter who speaks what language, after a few shots of slivovice everyone can speak every language fluently.  I had a great time getting to know all of the bride's uncles.  I'm not sure if it was because of me being an American from Brno who spoke Czech or if they were trying to figure out if I was just Katka's date for the wedding or if there was more to it.  Maybe a combination.  Regardless, it was for sure a great time.  We left around midnight which quite a long day for me.  But I believe that the partying continued well in to the next morning.

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