Sunday, September 22, 2013

Vacation Report, Part 3: The Big Wedding


As you know, one of the original reasons for our trip to Germany was to attend the wedding of Agnes's nephew Frederik (son of her cousin Anna) to his fiancee Silke. While we always enjoy visiting Anna and Volker, the opportunity to attend Frederik's wedding was an added pleasure ... although, as is usual with our extended family, it was not without its adventures.

We left Volker and Anna's home in Reutlingen on Friday morning, August 30th, and drove to Frankfurt to meet up with their daughter Lea and her friend Stefan and with Frederik and Silke to help with the transport of the wedding supplies to the final destination. These supplies consisted of many cases of wine and spirits, large numbers of hand-made decorations (one of Silke's specialties), and - of course - all the required clothes, shoes, dresses, and other things needed to pull off the Wedding of the Year. This picture shows Volker tying down the fully-loaded trailer we pulled behind his fully-loaded car (but doesn't show the equally-fully-loaded rental van that Stefan and Lea also had) ...


We drove from Frankfurt to the location of the wedding at the Hofgut Mappen in Schlangenbad, not far from the city of Wiesbaden where Agnes and I lived from 1987-1990 (and I earlier lived between 1978 and 1980). The Hofgut Mappen is actually a working stable that trains racehorses, and sits on a low mountain well out in the forested countryside. The stables are set apart from the section of the facility which has been renovated and is used as a luxury locale for weddings and other special events. This was the main gate ...


from which the narrow road wound up through the forest ...


and ended at the gate to the courtyard (we actually parked in a small lot off to the right of this picture) ...


Once inside the gates, the main courtyard area opened out ...


The building in the middle of the picture was the luxurious guest house where the bridal party and the parents stayed. We had a nice party later that afternoon and evening on the front veranda ...


Access to the building was strictly controlled - the sign says "All men (especially Freddy) please knock!" ...


After we'd unloaded and stowed all the wedding supplies, and before the party, Lea and Stefan, Agnes and I, and another young lady drove in their rented van back to Schlangenbad to check into our rooms at the humble, understated Parkhotel ...


After checking in and cleaning up a bit, we all piled back into the van and drove back to the Hofgut, where we had a nice party with Frederik, Silke, and the rest of the bridal party, parents, and friends. In the course of the evening we were able to see another European landmark, the Leaning Tower of Pizza ...


The next morning we all rendezvoused back at the Hofgut early and began the work of setting things up for the wedding. We were a bit worried because the wedding was scheduled to be held outdoors in the courtyard, but at 8:00 AM the weather forecast was calling for an 80% chance of rain during the day. This being the case, the men scrambled to set up Plan B, which involved carrying a lot of (heavy) chairs upstairs to the in-case-of-rain room*, where Silke's father carefully arranged them ...


After the Plan B arrangements were completed, we got to work setting up the hopeful Plan A under threatening skies. Here's how it all looked when it was finally set up. In the first picture, the signpost in the foreground points to some of the many places Frederik and Silke have traveled together, ending up with the sign at the very top of the pole pointing to the tent with the words "Ja Wort" (which could be loosely translated as "The 'I Do' Spot") ...


This picture looks out from the celebrant's chair toward the guest seating. Silke made the dozens of paper flowers we hung from the trees (and the fancy sign in the previous picture) ...


By 10:00 AM, the weather forecast had improved to the point of a 50% chance of rain after 5:00 PM ... which was promising, because the ceremony was scheduled for 2:30. We all crossed our fingers and finished getting ready for the Big Event. Agnes and I cleaned up ...


As did Volker and Anna** ...


And Frederik and Silke ...


Instrumental music was provided by a string trio which did a beautiful job (but did not always impress the many children in attendance) ...


Vocals were provided by Volker and Anna's daughter Lea, who is a trained opera singer (a mezzosoprano) with a beautiful, soaring voice ...


Silke's sister Kirstin also played the guitar and sang Elton John's "Your Song," as well as a duet with Lea - Ben E. King's "Stand By Me" ...


And before long - without any rain! - Frederik and Silke walked happily back down the aisle in a shower of flower petals and soap bubbles ...


But wait - there's more!

Volker wanted to take a group picture of the entire crowd, which turned out to be a lot like the proverbial herding of cats ... he finally settled for about 80% of the crowd just as it started to drizzle.


Someone also decided that it would be a nice idea to make a calendar for Frederik and Silke with each month illustrated by a photo of the guests who had birthdays in that month. The November group, which included both Yours Truly and Vera, Silke's Maid of Honor (the smiling lady in the front row) was fairly small ...


Oh ... do you remember the earlier mention of the updated weather report which predicted a 50% chance of rain after 5:00 PM? The rain actually started to pour down at 5:02! Fortunately it only lasted for about an hour.

The day went well into the following morning with a gourmet dinner, music and dancing in the beautifully decorated party room ... to which the grumbling caterers had carried back and re-covered all the chairs we'd stripped of their covers and schlepped up to the Plan B room earlier that morning ...


Much later, a shuttle bus was available to take all of the exhausted, happy revelers back to the hotel ... which was a good thing, as I wouldn't have wanted to drive the narrow, twisting road back down the mountain at 2:00 AM, wrapped as I was in a happy fog of wine, dance, and goodwill.

The next morning we all assembled at the Parkhotel for a buffet breakfast before going back out to the Hofgut to clean up, re-pack all the decorations and supplies, re-load the van and the trailer, and return to Reutlingen via Frankfurt ... a long, but happy day as we said goodbye to Frederik and Silke as they headed off to Namibia for their honeymoon.

And that, Dear Readers, was the story of the Big Wedding. I actually took hundreds of pictures, of which I've only inflicted about 20 or so on you. Before I forget, though, I suppose I actually should put up a picture proving that there actually were horses at the Hofgut. Volker and I tried to get close enough for better pictures, but the horses kept moving away as we approached, and the goat kept eyeing us suspiciously ...


Okay, that's just about it for the Big Wedding. I will just close by saying that I am proud and happy to be a part of the extended family that includes wonderful people like Volker and Anna, Freddy and Silke, and Lea and (come December) Stefan. I am, for this and many other reasons, the most lucky of men.

Have a good day. More thoughts, including a few more pictures, tomorrow.

Bilbo

* The caterers were upset that we were taking chairs from the room they were trying to set up for the reception and dinner. Too bad.

** Two of the greatest people I've ever had the pleasure of knowing.

8 comments:

eViL pOp TaRt said...

What a delightful, happy wedding! I wish Frederik and Silke a lifetime of joy and love. It looks like everyone had a great time!

Banana Oil said...

It was a lovely wedding and such happy pictures to view. I hope you are well, Bilbo!

Duckbutt said...

I'm glad it was a happy occasion for all!

Amanda said...

That looks like a wonderful wedding.

Lisa Rosenbusch said...

What a beautiful ceremony! Volker and Anna look wonderful and it was great that you and Agnes could be there to celebrate with them. Thanks for sharing!!

Mike said...

Quite a production.

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

I'm so glad for all. May the happy couple have a long lifetime of happiness.

Silke Hammermeister said...

Dear Bill & Agnes, I stumbled on your blog coincidentally and now I am simply blown away by the warm words you wrote about our wedding. Frederik and me are remembering this very special day with a greatfulness and a huge smile on our faces. That this day has been so special is a matter of fact we owe you , our guests. Thanks, that you celebrated together with us, thanks for your whishes and thanks for the wonderful pictures you made. The newly weds, Silke & Frederik