At the beginning of August, two of my lovely friends got married in Schwetzingen. The event was a hoot and my first wedding in Germany is more than worthy of its own blog post.
PART I: The Polterabend
The wedding celebration started back in July with Sabrina and Phil’s Polterabend. I had never heard of a Polterabend before and a few weeks prior to the event I Googled it. From what I found on the internet, it’s an old German wedding tradition in which a party is thrown for the future Mr. and Mrs. All the guests are requested to bring old porcelain dishware to smash on the ground. The bride and groom have the delightful task of cleaning up all the broken pieces together. Apparently it’s supposed to bring good luck to the marriage.
Here’s how I pictured it in my head:
The friends and family of Sabrina and Phil arrive at the party. About thirty minutes in, everyone smashes their four or five plates on the ground. Sabrina and Phil sweep it up and thirty minutes later everyone enjoys a party together.
Here’s what it actually was:
About 100 friends, family, and coworkers came to celebrate the future matrimony of Phil and Sabrina. Upon their arrival, they smashed the plates, bowls, mugs, glasses, sinks, toilet bowls, and anything else they could get their hands on from grandparents, their garage, or second-hand shops. As each guest arrived at the party, they threw what they brought in what I will call the designated porcelain destruction area. I am not exaggerating when I say that their friends brought boxes of porcelain. Being the delightful people they are their friends would slowly throw pieces from their box of porcelain and smugly walk away to go enjoy a beer. Forty-five minutes later, they would return with another box that they had kept hidden in their car. Three-hours after guests first began to arrive, Sabrina and Phil finally walked away from the destruction area to join their already partying friends. Three hours. I will say it again, Phil and Sabrina were cleaning up porcelain for three hours. Everyone was enjoying drinks, hot dogs, and potato salad, while laughing and pointing at the poor couple clean up everyone else’s mess. If that isn’t proof of the start of a long, happy, lucky marriage, I don’t know what is.
It was a great time. There was music, dancing, endless food and drinks, and beer pong (because this is the internet, I will not say whether or not I was the one to introduce Sabrina to this game…). I left the next morning with a headache, but pretty excited about my new cultural experience.
Part II: The Wedding Weekend
In Germany, couples are required to marry during a small ceremony at the city hall. It’s the equivalent to getting your marriage license in the States, only everything becomes official the day you marry in the city hall in Germany. I actually really love this part of the wedding, because it gives the couple a chance to share the official day with only a very small group of family and friends. It makes it a little more special and personal for the two people getting married. Afterwards, if they choose to do so, they can have the big church ceremony and reception that is typical of what we usually see in the States. Phil is half American, so it was really neat to see how he and Sabrina mixed the two country’s traditions together during their big weekend.
Sabrina and Phil honored Aubrey (who was visiting from the States) and I by inviting us to the beautiful city hall ceremony. It was gorgeous, personal, and a tear-jerker. Sabrina works for the Lord Mayor, so it was extra special that her boss was the one to marry her and Phil. He did a great job and even provided Phil’s family from America, Aubrey, and I with a printed-out version of his speech in English so everyone would be able to follow along.
The next day, they had a beautiful church ceremony right in the center of town followed by a reception at a hotel a short drive out of the city. I don’t want to describe it all here in too much detail, because it’ll get too sappy. Let’s just say I was that guest who went around taking pictures of everything and going, “OH, did you see the name cards?! Let me get another picture of the menu.” I was so in awe of all the details I couldn’t help but document it all. The food was fantastic (including currywurst as a midnight snack!) and the drinks were flowing. Aubrey and I had such a fantastic time and it was awesome to see two of my great friends finally tie the knot. In America, wedding receptions typically end at nine or ten depending on the venue, but in typical German/Sabrina & Phil fashion, the reception started at 3:30pm and ended at 3:30am. Party. Down. It was so fun.
Congratulations Sabrina and Phil!