On Friday 10th September, I conducted my third wedding in just under four weeks when Phil, an Englishman, married Lenka, a Czech. However, unlike the two previous weddings which I’ve described in earlier blogposts, this wedding took place over 270 km southeast of Prague in the small Moravian town of Valtice which lies very close to the border with both Austria and Slovakia.
In order to be sure that I arrived on time for the wedding and in a well prepared state, we chose to drive to Valtice the previous afternoon. The bulk of the journey was along the Prague-Brno motorway which was originally constructed during the Communist era. The section nearer to Brno still has the original concrete road surface which is horribly uneven and extremely noisy to drive on. But other than some slight traffic delays leaving Prague, the rest of the journey was fine except for having to drive through a couple of very heavy downpours.
We arrived in Valtice around 8pm just as it was getting dark. We managed to make phone contact with Phil the bridegroom who met us in the town square and directed us to Penzion Duo where he had kindly booked a room for Sybille and me to stay for two nights. Once we had unloaded our belongings and safely parked the car, we joined Phil and his father Tim at Avalon restaurace a cajovna for our evening meal.
After a good nights sleep, the Friday morning dawned fine and sunny. We were treated to a late breakfast at Restaurace Albero which is where all the guests had been asked to gather and to where we all returned later in the afternoon and evening for the wedding reception.
The wedding itself took place in the chapel of Valtice Castle, an amazing baroque structure that used to be the main residence of the Liechtenstein family who now reside in the Principality of the same name having fled Valtice as the Soviet army advanced eastwards in April 1945. It provided a wonderful venue for the marriage service as well the perfect location for photographs afterwards.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the whole day was the keeping of a variety of wedding customs, some of which are peculiar to Moravia. Before the happy couple were allowed to lead their guests into the wedding reception, they had to cut a loaf of bread in two with a wooden knife. Then a plate was broken and Phil and Lenka were given a dustpan and brush to sweep up all the broken pieces, to promote the idea of being able to work together in a healthy manner throughout their marriage.
Phil was then required to carry his bride over the threshold and into the reception. However, because the restaurant is on the first floor, this meant carrying her up two flights of stairs! Then once seated, a large towel was wrapped around the two of them and they were required to feed each other from one bowl of soup using one spoon, once more to encourage them to cooperate together.
Later, when Phil and Lenka took to the dance floor for the first dance, various guests blew bubbles at them, as Sybille and I both agreed, far nicer than having rice or confetti thrown at you! This was a custom that we had already seen previously at Jan and Allison’s wedding six days earlier.
Finally, there was the more widespread tradition of the bride throwing her bouquet over her shoulder with her unmarried female friends and relatives lined up trying to catch it and thus be the next one to get married.
This was the first time we had visited southern Moravia other than driving through it on the motorway on our way to Turkey October 2009. We very much liked what we saw and hope to return there and explore the area further, hopefully in the not too distant future.