Yesterday, Saturday 4th September, I conducted my second wedding of the year when Jan, a Czech, married Allison, an American. Like my Scottish – Slovak wedding of three weeks earlier, Jan & Allison’s wedding took place in St. Clement’s Church with a similar wonderful mix of nationalities in the congregation including Czech, American, Canadian, German, French and English.
Allison and Jan first met whilst postgraduate students at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. They are both undertaking research in aspects of political science and have spent the past year studying in Berlin.
I first met the happy couple just over a year ago when they attended worship at St. Clements one Sunday morning in August 2009. But it was in December last year that Allison got in contact with me, asking about the possibility of being married at St. Clement’s – wanting to know it was legally possible and what would be involved.
Since the beginning of the year, I have met with Allison and Jan on several occasions, and in between have exchanged numerous emails. More than any wedding couple I can remember, they have wanted ‘Marriage Preparation’; to work through in advance of their wedding, the issues that face any couple entering upon a marital relationship and particularly those additional ones that face a couple who enter upon a cross-cultural marriage.
We’ve also spent much time working upon the content of their marriage service. Whilst sticking to the framework of the Anglican liturgy, as I insisted they had to, between us, we successfully wove in a variety of other material that was personal to the two of them.
All of this preparatory work resulted in a wonderful marriage service with contributions in English and Czech from family members on both sides. A very well produced bilingual order of service allowed everyone present to understand what was being said even if it wasn’t in a language they could understand.
Following the marriage service in central Prague, the wedding reception took place in the grounds of the home of Jan’s mother Lenka, in the village of Klokocna, about 30 miles / 48 kilometres east of the city. As well as speeches by both the bride and the groom, they also joined together to sing a song, to each other, and to their assembled guests. That certainly was a ‘first’ for me and I’ve been involved in a large number of weddings over the past 21 years!
There was an abundance of food which celebrated the very best of Czech cuisine all prepared by Mr Sapík from the local village restaurant and pension ‘U Kone’. All this could be washed down either by Czech beer or Moravian wine. Music, dancing and entertainment continued until midnight. Then, when festivities ended, Sybille and I just walked 100 metres down the road to ‘Penzion U Kone’ where we spent a peaceful night before driving back to central Prague and St. Clement’s Church on Sunday morning, ready for worship at 11am.