This afternoon, at around 3 o'clock, I heard loud music being played on the street a couple of houses down from ours. The music was with drums and bagpipes and obviously oriental, so I wondered what the heck was going on. Something perhaps to do with Ramadan? I went outside with a somewhat sick Miss Mia and we soon saw that it was a Turkish wedding.
Everyone was so happy and colorfully dressed that even the local Halbstaerker (bad boys) paused from making mischief for a few minutes to take a look. It was amazing to see the bride in a big white dress after she ist unter die Haube gegangen, an idiom for getting married in German (literally it means "she went under the big, old-fashioned hair salon hair dryer.")
Normally Miss Mia would have been fascinated; we often pass by this shop that sells these ornate, often gaudy dresses for Turkish weddings and celebrations and she always says we should buy some of those beautiful princess dresses; but her cold made her too cranky. After two minutes she said she just wanted to go home.
If it weren't for etsy, I probably would have forgotten what a huge industry there is around weddings in the U.S. You can't be on the site for very long without running into something wedding related; wedding cake toppers, wedding place setting, bridesmaid's dresses, a gift for the best man. Everything you could imagine to make her special day all that much more magical oh yeah, and quickly empty out your wallet.
The first time I got married it was an elopement in Portland, Oregon. We went to the courthouse two days before and they didn't even ask to see my husband-to-be's passport which I found incredible. He could have been some crazed European axe-murderer, wanted in ten states, but they didn't care. Just as they asked if we would prefer to be married in the courthouse or in the privacy of our own home, they led a young hippie guy out of the courtroom in leg shackles. "It wasn't me, man. It wasn't me," he protested. "Uh," we said. "We'll pay the extra 50 bucks and get married at home." The judge came over on March 11th with a cast on his right arm and married us in my sister's living room with only her and her then-boyfriend as a witness. In Oregon they are obsessed with there pioneering history. They will slap a wagon train on anything if they given even half the chance. Our wedding certificate had (you guessed it) a wagon train down on the bottom next to our names.
Though my second wedding was planned and more thought out in many ways, it still was held in a courthouse (though the gorgeous one in San Francisco instead). Only my family was there, we went out to dinner instead of having a reception and I wore black instead of white. But your average (German) Berliner can definitely relate much more to either of my weddings than they can a Turkish one. Most people don't get married here anyway, not even after they have kids. If they do, it would almost always be a no-frills version at the courthouse (you have to pay church taxes in order to get married in a church and they are pretty high.) I've tried to provoke some of my German students in classes before. "But weddings are about romance. They are about tall cakes and one hundred guests and big dresses." In every case they looked at me like I was crazy. If they ever were going to get married (and that was a big "if") it would only be for the lower taxes. Though I am most definitely not a wedding person, this has always made me almost a little sad.
When I walked out of the apartment today, the groom had just set free a dozen white doves. Ooos and Ahhs went through the crowd as they flew to freedom. I'm glad I saw it.