Ukrainian -German Wedding -Interesting Traditions
This was one of those weddings which I was very eager to attend, since the Bride and Groom hold a special spot in my heart, but unfortunately the timing did not work out for my travels abroad.
Valentine’s Day is a perfect time for me to dedicate this Wedding post to the very special Bride and Groom.
Since I did not experience these festivities in person, I am relying on the information shared with me by some of the attendees. So, if anyone finds something I misconstrued in this post, please feel free to clarify it with your comments.
This Mid-December wedding had a Christmas theme, as it took place in Germany (Bavaria…to be exact), with breathtaking scenery of snow covered hills and tree tops.
The Bride incorporated her Ukrainian traditions into the wedding ceremony and reception, and the Groom complimented it with his German wedding traditions.
The Bride also included some of the American wedding traditions such as: the Father-Daughter Dance, Mother-Son-Dance, Wedding Cake Cutting ceremony, and assistance from the Ring Bearer and a Flower Girl, just to mention few.
The day before the formal wedding, the Bride and Groom were obtaining their Marriage License, which is a very special occasion in itself.
In Germany, and I believe in all of Europe, the obtaining of a Marriage License, is quite festive as well. For many, the Civil Wedding is the only formal wedding they choose, hence the bride wears her wedding gown and the groom an elegant suit (not necessarily a tux), and have a formal wedding reception afterwards.
Since this couple had a church wedding ceremony the next day, they still dressed formally, but not in their traditional wedding attire. They were joined at the Mayor’s office at the Town Hall, by both sets of their parents, the Bridal Party, and their close family and friends.
Once the “Civil Wedding” was officially completed (official marriage by state law), the Mayor greeted the “newlyweds” and all their guests with a Champagne Toast. To celebrate this occasion further, they all attended a formal dinner at a Bavarian restaurant, owned and operated by the uncle of the Groom.
The church wedding ceremony took place at the Groom’s church, “Kirche Maria Namen”, a Roman Catholic church located in Iggensbach, Germany, however the Bride also invited a Ukrainian Catholic priest (who traveled with 2 nuns from a Ukrainian church 2 hours away) to also officiate at this wedding ceremony.
He assisted with the Ukrainian traditions of the Blessing of the Couple with Holy Icons presented by their parents, the Crowning (using traditional Periwinkle Wreaths for the Bride and Groom), the Ceremonial Walk, also known as the “Dance of Isaiah”, and the Blessing of the Married Couple by the Icon of Mary, the Mother of God.
The church was decorated with beautiful flower arrangements, and for a Ukrainian touch, the Bride imported hand embroidered runners (Rushnyky) from Ukraine, to decorate the sides of the church pews.
After the church ceremony, as the guests were ready to come out of the church, a decorative rope was held across the doorway, and everyone had to make a small donation, before stepping outside. Each guest was presented with a small brass bell, decorated with red ribbon, and a small engraved heart, with first name initials of the Bride and the Groom.
The rope was removed for the Bride and the Groom, and as they stepped out of the church, they were greeted by the cheerful crowd, with delicate sound of the jingling bells, and a stunning background of snow covered hills.
The wedding reception took place in yet another beautiful German restaurant, Das Oberhaus, in Passau, Germany. Once the Newlyweds arrived, they were introduced to all the guests as now officially married, everyone was served German Mulled Wine (Glühwein) accompanied by numerous hors devours.
Next the cutting of the Wedding Cake took place, and it was served to everyone, along side of coffee and a wonderful spread of numerous home made desserts…….slightly different tradition we Americans are used to.
Now the Ukrainian traditional Greeting with Bread, Salt and Wine took place between the Bride and the Groom, and their parents.
The Greeting Bread was prepared by the Mother-of-the Bride, who also prepared and Ukrainian Traditional Wedding Bread “Korovai”. which the Matron-of-Honor helped to assemble and decorate.
Dinner was served at the tastefully decorated Das Oberhaus restaurant, by a very cordial and accommodating staff. The Bride and Groom requested Filet Mignon to be prepared in American and German style, to appease the different pallets of their guests. Of course, the seafood lovers and the vegetarians were equally pleased with their selections….:-)
Since the guests at this wedding were either speaking German, English, or a little bit of both, the Bride and the Groom had a great idea to have decorative name tags for each guest, so at least they would be able to introduce themselves, and strike a conversation. These name tags were made out of wooden clothes pins, with each guest’s name wood burned into it, and decorated with a dainty red bow , tiny flowers, and a pearl. So adorable, and such a great ice breaker idea for the guests.
The Bavarian Band, all dressed up in the traditional German Bavarian Lederhosen outfits, did a super job entertaining all the guests with their tunes, in addition to other traditional wedding entertainment in their repertoire.
There was no throwing of the Bridal Bouquet, or the Garter….but instead a German wedding tradition took its place, which proved to be quite entertaining….and even daring…
The Bridal Bouquet was a very “hot commodity”….to say the least…The Bride and the Matron-of-Honor had to closely guard it at all times, so it would not get stolen by any of the guests, or a ransom had to be paid to get it back. Well, it was going well, but at some point the Bride rested it on the head table for just a second, but a very attentive guest (her American friend who is also married to a German fellow), took advantage of this opportunity and grabbed the bouquet. As a ransom, she requested for the Bride and Groom to treat her to an elegant dinner at a Five Star hamburger restaurant in Germany (Americans loooove their hamburgers…no matter where they live….LOL).
The Groom on the other hand had another game to deal with…..the male guests were on a lookout for an opportunity to find the Bride alone, without her husband at her side, so they can “steal” her, usually she is just taken to another room, and the Groom is questioned of her whereabouts, then the Groom has to pay a ransom to get her back. The ransom is never in form of money, but rather a bottle of liquor, or a begging game, where he will have to express how much he loves her, to win her back.
This Groom was dressed in a Beggar’s Robe and a hat, had to kneel on a wooden plank, and be very creative with telling the captors how much he loves his wife and wants her back at any cost.
She in turn, had to think of ways to place demands on him, and relay her message to him through her captor, which at times got distorted a bit, to make it impossible or embarrassing for the Groom, yet to make it more entertaining for everyone. Usually only three requests are expressed, as not to take too much time away from the Bride and Groom enjoying the rest of their special day.
This tradition is practiced in Germany, but it also is very popular in other European countries as well.
Another interesting German Wedding Tradition is the wedding gift giving. Even though most guests give monetary gifts, rather than actual gift items, they are very creative with the gift presentation. They do not just place a check, or cash, in the card, like you will find at an American wedding, or wrap a store bought gift and bring it to the wedding. They really put a lot of thought and creativity to the gift to make it very special.
One guest crafted a small treasure chest, carved the Initials of the Bride and the Groom on the lid of the chest, and filled it with coins. Then it was wrapped in a very special wrapping, so it did not look like a box, but a rather a very creative shape.
Another guest folded paper money into origami, and here again wrapped it very elegantly in a cellophane wrapping like a basket. Everyone is trying to do something original, and unique, to express their gift giving in their own special way.
Looks like a lot of “toasting” took place, and rightfully so…..since the Bride and Groom expressed their favorite drink recommendations on little chalk board at the bar, and the guests also were encouraged to do the same. A lot of “Prost” (Cheers – in German) was going on during that whole evening…:-)
The gift table also had Jenga Blocks set up, ready to play the game. Participating guests had to carefully remove one block at a time, then write an inspirational message on that block, for the Bride and the Groom. I am told that there was a lot of success with this game, so the Newlyweds collected many interesting messages from their guests to enjoy later on at their leisure.
The Bavarian Band was entertaining the guests for couple of hours not only with their music, but also with different fun jokes and games.
After dinner, a DJ entertained the crowd with Ukrainian, German and American tunes. The Ukrainian guests had a chance to show off their intricate steps of the infamous “Kolomeyka” dance, which included the participation of the Bride and the Groom, as she used to be very graceful ballerina dancer in the US, as well as a Ukrainian Folk Dance Group member.
To add to the fun, there was a photo booth with numerous costumes, for all the guests to utilize, and to capture fun moments.
As all fun things must come to an end, so did this wedding. However, since everyone had so much fun, the Bride and Groom extended the wedding time by another hour or two, to continue the fun and to create wonderful memories.
I hope you enjoyed the pictures, and learned about the different wedding traditions incorporated into this Ukrainian-German wedding.