They say that ‘everybody loves a wedding…’ but I don’t know if that is exactly true. I enjoy going to weddings, but it has to be for two people who are really in love – if not I feel like I am participating in a sham, a hoax on love for which I will never be forgiven. I have had many a bride or groom-to be in my classes over the years, but I have yet to attend a wedding in this country. Until today! Two of my good friends, who met here in Prague, are getting married today… in a castle! I have been to more weddings than I can remember, but never to one in an actual castle. And, no – the Disney Castle does not count. But, I think I am most excited to go to a wedding for two people who are so very much in love with each other.
They are both American, but have lived in this country for a while. I think they are going to do some Czech wedding traditions. I just hope the cake at the reception is Medovik. (It’s a honey cake that is made in layers of YUM.) In a lot of ways the American and Czech traditions are the same. There is a cake, the “old, new, borrowed, blue” thing for the bride, hurling rice at the happy couple for fertility and so forth. But, then there are some things that are just… very Czech. An example was that a male student of mine was looking forward to his wedding day and the horse collar his buddies would put around his neck. The what now? Yep, that’s right – HORSE COLLAR. The groom gets one of these … kinda like the American version of the ball and chain.
One little difference that my American sisters might be interested in knowing about is the wedding dress. Most brides in this country do not purchase a wedding dress – they rent it. They just don’t understand why (and I have to agree with them on this) someone would spend hundreds – if not thousands – of dollars on a dress that they will wear one time. So, they rent. And it is completely acceptable here. I told my classes that the idea of renting is looked down on in the states – whether it be clothes, cars or homes. They just looked at me funny as they tend to do when it comes to the American wastefulness of money.
I think my favorite Czech wedding tradition is the broken plate. At the reception, someone breaks a plate for the happy couple and they must sweep it up together – one holding the dust pan and the other the broom. This is supposed to symbolize the couples synchronicity and the idea that they will work together in the future. They will also eat the Czech wedding soup together. They will be bound together by means of a huge napkin tied around their necks while they attempt to eat soup from a shared spoon. This is to show how they will work together and be in a real partnership. Aside from the fact that the pictures of this moment are inevitably unflattering, it is a very nice tradition.
No Czech celebration would be complete with out a trip to a pub. This includes weddings. At some point during the reception the bride will be “kidnapped” by friends of the groom – and usually taken to a pub near by. It is then the grooms mission to ask around and find his lady love. If he fails to locate his bride, he must buy her back from his friends. Traditionally, this was to show the separation of the girl and her family. Nowadays it is more symbolic of how watchful a guy needs to be of his woman around his friends. Just kidding.
So, off I go to get dolled up for the wedding. I have fresh batteries for my camera and a packet of tissues already in my purse. And who knows… I might even catch that bouquet.