On Saturday 30th May, I officiated at my first wedding of 2015, between Lee, an Englishman, and Petra, his Czech bride. The wedding took place at Letohrádek svatý Vojtech, Pocátky, in the Vysocina/Highlands, close to from where Petra originates.
The happy couple met whilst both working for the Irish budget airline, Ryanair. As they acknowledged when I first met them, theirs was the classic romance – dashing airline pilot falls in love with tall, beautiful air stewardess 🙂 They now live in Dubai, where Lee flies with the Emirates airline.
Lee and Petra first contacted me about their wedding in September last year. Lee was very keen to have a Church of England wedding whilst Petra wanted the wedding to take place near her Czech home. Therefore, when through a little bit of internet research, they found me, they were thrilled to discover that I could fulfil the wishes of both bride and groom.
Letohrádek svatý Vojtech seeks to maintain the atmosphere of the era of what Czechs refer to as the ‘First Republic’ – the period 1918-1938 when Czechoslovakia was an independent nation. Follow this link for more information, though the English does leave a little bit to be desired 🙁 It did make for an excellent location for the wedding.
The photograph above shows where I conducted the wedding ceremony in advance of it taking place. It was a delightful setting except that the heavens decided to open just before I pronounced the blessing. Of course, if we had started on time, rather than ten minutes later, no one would have got wet. Fortunately, the heavy shower soon passed and all the guests were able to drink a toast to the newly married couple, whilst out in the gardens surrounding the building.
As I always do when conducting an English-speaker to Czech wedding, I made sure that the Order of Service had the complete liturgy in both English and Czech, enabling everybody to follow the service, whichever language was being used. I was greatly assisted by Zuzka, a friend of the bride’s brother and who teaches English in a Czech secondary school, who interpreted for me and helped Petra to give her consent and make her vows in Czech, whilst I did the same for Lee in English.
Whilst out in the gardens, the manageress of Letohrádek svatý Vojtech, organised a Czech wedding tradition. Just as the happy couple were posing for a few photographs, she smashed a plate behind them, and then presented them with a pan and brush, to clear up the broken pieces. The idea is that it should help them to cooperate together in their marriage. Having seen this happen at previous Czech weddings, and seeing the manageress surreptitiously bringing out a pan and brush, I knew what was coming. But it did come as quite a shock and surprise to the British relatives and friends 🙂
Soon afterwards, Lee and Petra were driven away in a vintage Daimler, duly decorated as you can see. The car was right-hand drive and therefore presumably dated from the First Republic, as Czechoslovaks drove on the left in right-hand drive vehicles, until Hitler unilaterally changed things, after he invaded.
There was an evening reception in nearby Jihlava which I wasn’t able to attend, because of needing to get back to Prague for worship the next day. But it was delightful to receive an email from Lee and Petra the following Saturday, thanking me for making their day ‘a special one to remember’, just before I was setting off to conduct another wedding which will be the subject of my next blog post.
As a thank you, I was presented with these gifts, photographed by me the following day on our balcony.