Saturday, September 17, 2005

The Reception...

The Reception... An All Night Affair

Tasha worked long and hard on the reception. She selected the caterer, the menu, setup the seating arrangements and generally managed the whole thing. She was quite the 'wedding planner'! She approached it like it was a project on her job. She deserves many accolades for the job that she did on this celebration. It would have been an enormous task for anyone, especially living in Munich which is many hours away from Kassel.

But this was HER wedding, not someone else's! She made it happen. I was very proud of her organizational skills and attention to detail.

The site she selected for the reception was nestled in an isolated wooded area between the wedding site in Naumburg and Bad Emstal, where everyone was staying the night. The building itself was a large hall with a stage, a dance floor and a large seating area. She used natural accents (branches, potted plants, etc.) to transform a rather sterile hall into an attractive eating and dancing area.

As a gift for joining the celebration, each guest received a pair of jars filled with two different types of honey. This honey was specially produced for her and reflected her affectionate name for Isti... Honey! Apparently, this designation is American and 'foreign' to the Germans. She capitalized on this fact to commemorate their marriage. On Thursday, Grace, Heather, AnaMarie, and some of the Hungarians had spent time wrapping the jars in netting and ties. Each jar was labeled 'Honey for my Honey'; very cute and creative. It was a gift appreciated by all...

Anyway, after the ceremony at the church, people were transported to this reception hall for Champaign and snacks. Following the picture taking at the church, a caravan of minis (driven by members of Isti's mini club) coursed their way through the little village of Naumburg to the hall, with Tasha and Isti riding in the specially decorated mini (see picture).

This was quite a caravan and the newly married couple made a grand entrance to the reception area. Tasha continued to sparkle as the beautiful bride in her lovely dress. Isti looked dapper in his suit. They were both quite stunning, and very much in love...

Unfortunately, Lars, Maria and their daughter, Leah, were not yet present. They had taken part in another wedding of a close friend of Lars that was held in Spain. Their flight from Spain was delayed due to the British Airways strike. They returned to Kassel, and the reception at about 9 p.m. It sounds like Lars sometimes overscheduled like me sometimes, with a wedding on Friday in Spain and another one in Kassel (Naumburg) on Saturday!

Grace, Heather and I were seated at a table with the mother, father and twin brother of Lars, little Maria's husband. Also at our table was a high school teacher of theology and his wife. They all spoke fair English, so we were able to communicate well with them.

The theology teacher was interesting. We discussed several books, especially the 'Da Vinci Code' which is one of my favorites. We exchanged ideas and some lively discussion was sparked by the 'mother earth' concept embedded in the book. Lars' brother, Jens, was a newspaper writer and very interested in technology. Grace carried on a lively conversation with him after dinner. Heather was drawn to Lars' and Jens' parents since she had been staying in their house in Kassel since she arrived the previous weekend. Again, Tasha had done an outstanding job of matching people to each other for the table assignments.

I shared with Jens some of my gadgets and he was fascinated. But what really got the attention at our table (and those around us) was my IPAQ. When I pulled the memory card out of the digital camera and showed them the pictures of the civil ceremony, the wedding, and other sites, they were 'blown away' by the clarity of the pictures. You could zoom in on details much more efficiently than with the camera's digital display. Jens was also fascinated by the Photo Disc that allowed me to transfer images from the SD Flash Memory card to the hard disk without a computer! We became immediate 'compadres'...

Since I had virtually the only pictures of the civil ceremony, everyone wanted to see them. I also had many pictures of the pre- and post-wedding groupings for immediate viewing. [Note: I didn't have any photos of the actual ceremony, but learned later that Heike had taken some photos of me escorting Tasha down the aisle. We will hopefully receive copies of the photo CD so we can retrieve these photos for our album, including the church itself.]

Dinner was quite good. Tasha had arranged for a specially-prepared dish for me that was cooked without salt. It was quite delicious! With everything else that she had to take care of, I truly appreciated this gesture of her love. She made me feel very special, on this, HER special day...

As the crowd sat down for the dinner, my time had come to make my father's 'Welcome' speech. I had taken care in writing it and attempted to keep it short. Lars had helped translating it to German; we didn't have any Hungarian translation, unfortunately. The original plan was to have me do the speech in English and Lars would then read it in German. But Lars was not there! I assumed my position at the front of the hall, was handed a microphone by AnaMarie, and Heather 'clanged' her water glass to get everyone's attention... I was 'on'...

Using the microphone, I started. I read the English version first, and then prefaced by reading of the German version with 'Ich spache Deutsch nichts so gut...' (I speak German not so good). This brought about a reaction of the audience. I went on to read the German version pretty well, only making a few pronunciation mistakes. I had been practicing it... It went over great and everyone seemed to enjoy it. I received many compliments on it and my attempt to communicate with the German-speakers in the crowd.

I felt bad that I didn't have a Hungarian version, but it was not only a matter of translating it to Hungarian, but having a phonetic translation so that I could pronounce the words. Hungarian is a very different language and much more foreign to our speech patterns than any western language...

Following the dinner, the dancing commenced. It was now the time for my third performance, one that I had not practiced... The Father's dance with the Bride! Following the first dance of the new Bride and Groom, Tasha and I took the floor and we gave it a good effort. It has been a long time since I have danced very much and we had not practiced at all. But I did OK!

Heather took some photos of this dance with the digital camera, but the pictures didn't come out too well. [We later found out that Heike had captured some good pictures of this dance which we hope to get soon. She also captured some good shots of Grace and me dancing.] Everyone was having a great time dancing, especially Heather. I danced as much as my knees would allow, but Grace got a chance to dance with Jens and others.

The evening progressed smoothly. At one point a commotion started when Lars, little Maria, and Leah arrived, tired but enthused; they had finally made it to the reception after their ordeal with their return trip to Kassel from Spain. I finally had a chance to meet Lars (with whom I had corresponded via email) and Maria. We engaged in lively conversations and found that we were very much 'kindred' spirits. He invited us to visit them the next afternoon. We also had an open invitation to stay with them (also received from his parents) anytime we returned to visit Kassel. What a nice feeling of 'connectedness' with our new extended family!

One of the highlights of the evening was an unexpected (and unplanned) treat. Heike and her friend, Juan, put on an incredible salsa dance exhibition. The lights came up and the music started. Unfortunately, I didn't have any warning and didn't have my DV Camcorder handy to record it for Tasha... They put on a great show.

The evening progressed as a series of conversations, dances, and coffee. Around midnight, Tasha called all the single women together for the bouquet toss. As it happened, it was caught by Heather! (I don't think that I can handle another wedding too soon, however. But we'll see what happens.)

A little after that, it was time for the men to adjourn for brandy and cigars. The men adjourned outside and enjoyed the treat. What a nice thought!

By that time (about 1 a.m.), Grace and I were tired and ready to call it a night. Rudi drove us to our little pension inn in the village so we could retire. We went up to the room, readied ourselves for bed, and fell fast asleep.

We had survived one week of preparation for the wedding and the two days of ceremonies and receptions. We were happy that it was over and grateful for being able to be part of it. The sleep was welcomed and tomorrow would be another day...

More on the breakfast and final day in Kassel in the next posting...


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