August 2007


The Wedding

Bride and GroomSaturday was wedding time: the German Bride and American Groom were getting hitched, all whilst “naturally” dressed. It was the fourth wedding of my life, following after SisterOne, me as Wyoming Goomsman, and a lovely wedding in Iowa City.

By any measure, I am a newbie when it comes to weddings.

Tower by Day

The wedding was held on the grounds of the Leuchtenburg, a castle located about 20-30 minutes south of Jena. It’s on the highest mountain around, and the weather could not have been more perfect: clear, sunny, and neither too hot nor too cold. It was perfect weather to arrive in my VW Beetle Convertible, comfortably dressed in khakis and a red shirt.

I’m not quite sure how I would characterize the wedding: it was not a traditional wedding (despite the fairy-tale location), it was not a medieval wedding (despite the costumes), and it was not a new age wedding (although some elements of new-age togetherness were included).

We gathered on a lawn in front of the castle where upon we were divided into men and women. In each circle we then gave advice to the person in our circle—me being male, that meant I offered marriage advice to the groom. Mind you, I’m not married, no prospects of ever being married, and have never really had what one could call a stable relationship, so this was like asking George W. Bush sobriety tips.

After the circles were broken, there was a ceremony of sorts—it was more of a Geschichte of the couple, rendered first in German then in English—their history/story of togetherness was related. After their lengthy time together was recounted, it moved on to what one can only describe as the actual wedding vows, which were written by the bride and groom, spoken in English, and German; then German and English, punctuated with kisses.

Castle TavernAfter the ceremony, we gathered in the castle’s courtyard for a formal group photo, before having coffee and cake inside, and a tour of the castle in the afternoon.

In the evening, it was time for the dinner and entertainment. Dinner was a buffet, but, keeping with the medieval setting, it was necessary to make sure that the cooks had not poisoned the meal, so the bride and groom were compelled to select an official food tester who would ensure that the meal was safe to eat.

I had a sneaking suspicion I would be selected: the bride wants to eliminate me.

It all started innocently enough shortly after I first met the Bride-elect. I was joking with her when I informed her that her boyfriend was the closest thing I had to a boyfriend, that my personal life was so lackluster and boring that the only man I could imagine dating was her boyfriend, despite that fact that he was hopelessly heterosexual and not especially my type.

She informed me that he belonged to her, and that I could not have her boyfriend and that I had to keep my hands off of him. In the intervening time, she managed to “catch” me in her boyfriend’s office a couple times, and she once tried to run over me in the office driveway (I leapt on a wall for safety). It was clear that she was (is) worried that I would steal her boyfriend from her, sucking him into gay-life, specifically as my life-partner and husband-to-be (once legal in the States).

Sure enough a plate of food was brought to me, and I had to sample it.

I gave my car keys to another colleague, in case the food was poisoned, and then I dug in. Fortunately nothing was poisoned, although the salad was not particularly good—information I used to my advantage when time to circle the buffet.

Sparkler FiestaThe evening’s entertainment was entertaining: tests for the bride and groom, live theatre, and a few songs—all led by a character from Prague who weaved English and German into his magic without interruption. I left before it was over—staying through delivery of the sparkler illuminated ice cream.

Strangely, unlike my previous weddings, I started to wonder what it would be like to be planning my own wedding—what elements would I want, what kind of celebration would I desire, and what would it all mean. There’s something to be said for something very simple, like my parents, who were married by the Acting Assistant Deputy Clerk (or something like that) in New York City—they wondered for a long time whether the marriage had actually happened, although they’ve lived together long enough that it certainly would be a common-law marriage by now.

P.S. See my photos from the Leuchtenburg on Flickr.

2 comments to The Wedding

  • Ed

    So what if you had refused to be the food taster? Naturally dressed in the 13th Century but today they should have been wearing t-shirt and Jeans. My cousin wore bib overalls and his wife wore cut-offs at there wedding. Can you say Redneck?

  • it would have been a disaster had I refused 🙂