It’s still summer here in Germany. Along with our annual Mediterranean beach escape, my family and I have been hitting the Autobahn to attend various weddings of friends here in Germany. Since I also had my church wedding in Germany, I have closely observed with special interest the various traditions which take place at these festive occasions. I’ve listed these various games and activities here which are usually organized by other guests or family members of the bridal pair. Take this as a preliminary guide, so that you know what to expect and to perhaps strategically duck out for a smoking break, regardless if you smoke or not.
Cutting a Heart Out: As the bride and groom are emerging newly married from the church or Standesamt (civil registry office), friends of the bride and groom have prepared a sheet with a heart drawn on it. The sheet is held in front of the couple and they must cut the heart out in order to pass. In order to enhance the challenge, they are typically given the smallest pair of scissors such as nail scissors in order to symbolize overcoming the first challenge in their new union. Typically, the husband then carries his new wife through the heart.
Most of the other activities typically take place at the Hochzeitsfeier, the party commonly known as the reception at an American wedding.
Group Art. Guests are invited to paint a square of a canvas. I’ve seen this executed in different forms. The theme could be to draw a heart and personalize it. At my wedding, various guests were given squares from one painting.
The goal is that the couple will have a work of art to hang in their marital home by the end of the night. If the couple is lucky, they will indeed have a palatable souvenir – even after the Schnapps has made a few rounds – ready to hang from their wedding.
Speech in Song Form. This is my personal least favorite. Typically an ensemble of unrehearsed friends or colleagues sing a parody of a well-known song with words based on the couple’s history or embarrassing moments or the like. The couple stands awkwardly listening and feigning amusement. The sentiment is sweet but is often poorly executed. These tributes can also be witnessed at farewell and birthday parties.
Mock Raffle. Each of the guests get a raffle number and the winners get to give something or perform a task for the couple such as clean their house, send flowers on their anniversary, or arrange for the Easter bunny to visit on Easter Day.
Photo Guestbook. In addition to or perhaps instead of signing a guestbook, guests are asked to have their picture taken while holding an empty picture frame. Each portrait is later printed out and placed in a book and presented to the couple.
Hochzeitszeitung or Wedding Newspaper. This document is a mock newspaper on the events of the day, share a bit of history of the bridal pair’s relationship or how the bride and groom were as little children. At one wedding I’ve attended, these newspapers were “sold.” The proceeds were then given to the couple for their honeymoon. Mind you, this wedding took place in Schwabenland, where the people have a reputation of being particularly thrifty!
Fun? Painful? Thoughtful? Unique? I’d love to compile a more comprehensive list of German wedding games. Leave a comment with anything I’ve missed.