Yesterday we experienced an authentic Czech wedding, outside of Prague.
The ceremony took place at Kutna Hora’s town hall (an old castle), in an historic hall that dates from the 1500s. This hall also has family history for Milena, whose parents were married here, and where she received her school diploma.
The bride and groom meet their guests outside the hall. They greet family & friends, stand for photos, and walk through the crowd and into the building.
Guests wait in the courtyard for the previous wedding to finish and people leave. Then on into one antechamber, then up into the main hall (a government meeting room). Here the bride and groom enter last, followed by flower girls who hold the bride’s train.
A town official calls the crowd to order, and invites the mayor or council head into the room. He wears the medallioned necklace distinguished for his place. The ceremony is rather quick, official, with the bride & groom exchanging vows. After vows, they alternate signing their marriage license, in front of the entire wedding party, taking a seat in a big chair, watching over each other. Now they are presented to the guests as husband & wife. Of course, all of this took place in Czech, so we didn’t get the language, although Asia caught a few similar from her Polish.
Now married, Milena & Honza recieve the guests in the hall. Theirs was the last wedding of the day, so the photographers took shots in the hall, and family was able to linger. The family then lines the stairway that leads from the hall into the courtyard, to publicly receive the new couple.
The celebration took place at Dacicky restaurant, a big place only a few hundred yards away, through the center of Kutna Hora. Dacicky has an outdoor garden and a long dining hall and a tap room. The indoors was nicely NON-SMOKING … yeah!!
In the Czech Republic, the custom is to take a seat once in the restaurant and HOLD IT like you’re defending the country. There was limited mingling of the guests, at first. And then, after the first feeding (four were scheduled), people began to loosen up. Asia and I sat in the main dining room, which had window looking onto the garden and buffet … and the whole pig roasting on the spit.
First feeding: cold meats, cheeses, fresh fruit, bread, and sweets. Czechs like their hams and sausages and hot peppers and such. This was a nice feast.
An half hour later, Milena & Honza arrived, and the party had a champagne toast in the garden. Toasts are plentiful, beginning with the groom, then onto family, and pretty much anyone else who had something to say.
More merriment, and then the SECOND FEEDING: roast pork on the spit. To die for. Crunchy skin, moist meat, horseradish sauce and mustard and big pearl onions and cherry peppers, along with the continuing cold buffet. I went back three times for roast pork over the next two hours.
Milena and Honza have been taking dance classes for a year or so. Tonight they put on a little production as their first dance, using Dirty Dancing’s “Time of Your Life” to show off. They are quite good, and had some fun with the crowd (the “lift” sequence, where Swayze carried Jennifer Grey, was done with Honza being taken up with help from his friends, flying across the room like a jet liner).
Asia and I had a nice dance, slow and romantic. Then we quit the floor. We were thinking of leaving early to catch a 7pm train back to Prague, but then decided another hour & a half would be fine. We’re glad we stayed because we saw some competition.
Czech’s play Bride & Groom Games, pitting the “new couple” in demonstrations of their working together and competitive spirit. Milena and Honza are both tall drinks of water, well over six feet. They competed in the Czech version of the “potato sack race” (their feet tied together) and hopped to the finish line (Milena almost went head first into the rose bushes trying to catch up, almost beating Honza at the finish line); they had a watermelon seed spitting contest, using chewing gum—Milena won by 3ft. They lit votive candles, after first having to run through the crowd asking guests for matches; Milena was disqualified for gathering all the votives in a bunch and speed-lighting them. They used CDs for a discus competition, trying to land them inside a ribbon ring. They also threw mini spears at a paper target. In all, Milena one the competition 5-4.
Asia & I wandered around, watched the pig continue to warm-roast on the spit, had a nice coffee in the garden, watched some kids run around, went into the tap room for a beer.
THIRD FEEDING: more cold foods, with smoked salmon, deviled eggs, smoked cheese, and more sweets (nut crumb cake, sugar cookies, mini eclairs &ect). We were stuffed to the gills. And it was time to go.
A swift taxi ride to the train station, and an hour’s cruise into Prague, we were home by 10:45. Nice evening, great food, fun people. Next wedding: in three weeks! A Czech-USA pairing.