The case is very responsible and, as a rule, very expensive. And the matter is not so much in local prices, but rather in the fact that most Swiss people get married rather late (and therefore can afford expensive events) and “for life”, at least, many people see marriage in this way.
For at least six months, or even a year, a list of those invited to the celebration is compiled. Rather, two lists. First: these are colleagues and acquaintances who are invited only to the first part of the event – registration (or wedding) and the subsequent buffet. The second list is the family and close friends of the couple, who after the ceremony are left for a wedding dinner.
Invitations are always sent to guests by mail with a request to confirm their participation by a certain date. Refusing to visit less than a month before the celebration will be the height of impoliteness.
At first, I was greatly surprised by this custom, but after 8 years of my life here, I understand that this is reasonable. The average Swiss has an incredible amount of acquaintances, neighbors, colleagues, not to invite them to the wedding means to offend a person. In my case, the first part of the celebration was attended by about 200 people. And 150 of them belonged to this category of guests. But the Swiss have not so many close friends, so they are invited to the most expensive event (banquet). And no one is offended. Sometimes both parts of the wedding take place on the same day (as we did), and sometimes the gap between them can be up to a month.
Churches and castles
Most couples in Switzerland register a marriage without witnesses in the registry office, and then arrange a church ceremony. It is usually very beautiful and solemn. There are a huge number of ancient churches in the country, and, probably, any girl dreams about how she will pass along the passage to the altar, decorated with flowers, to the sounds of the organ.
The wedding ceremony usually lasts about an hour, includes a small sermon, the exchange of marriage vows (optional) and, personally, I like very much, the singing of wedding hymns. All guests are given notes with words and at the right moment everyone sings amicably. There is something very touching in this, in my opinion.
And you can hold a civil registration of marriage in any castle and / or arrange a buffet in it. In Switzerland, a huge number of both private and tourist-opened castles that offer these services.
Only it is necessary to take into account that they are far from open every day, therefore the date of the event should be reserved very, very in advance.
My wedding took place in one such castle (Bümpliz Schloss) in Bern, and to get there in September, it was necessary to reserve in April.
Or, as they call it here, Apero takes place in an informal setting. Cold snacks and light alcohol are served. Very often, if the weather permits, Apero is arranged in the gardens or on the terraces.
During Apero, all the guests personally congratulate the couple, and usually on this part of the wedding a photo session of the newlyweds and guests takes place. It is considered polite to give each guest the opportunity to take a picture with a couple, which is then sent by mail along with a thank-you card.
The buffet table lasts, as a rule, 2-3 hours, and usually takes place in the morning. He does not provide any program, only informal communication.
At Swiss weddings there is usually no toastmaster, as is customary in our country. Most often, someone from the newlyweds family assumes the role of organizing various entertainment during a banquet. This person coordinates in advance all possible activities, discusses their sequence, and also helps guests with various issues, for example, arranges a children’s corner (if such is provided), prepares a book of wishes (about this later), tells how and where to go ( if the wedding takes place in several places).
Traditionally, during the wedding dinner, guests are shown a film presentation about the bride and groom. With photos, video materials that are painstakingly collected from all relatives. In honor, humorous poems of his own composition, as well as, if someone from relatives or friends plays any instrument or sings, then a musical program.
Wedding – a holiday for guests
Firstly. The couple will know in advance all sorts of nuances (who is a vegetarian, for example, who has small children, etc.) to make the holiday as comfortable as possible. If the wedding takes place somewhere far away, then hotel rooms are reserved in advance for everyone.
Entertain guests in different ways. At one wedding, which I attended, there was a musician playing an alphorn (a shepherd’s musical instrument), and after the performance everyone could try to play it. Very often they invite any musical ensembles or just singers who entertain guests in between meals, as well as at a disco after a banquet.
Some couples arrange a short trip for all guests, for example, to the observation platform of a mountain, or, as we did, a boat trip on a river or lake.
Quizzes are very popular for guests who need to guess any facts from the life of the newlyweds. Those who get get a prize.
At the end of dinner, dances are always arranged, and here such Swiss people, sober in their everyday life, give themselves freedom. I was at a “rural style” wedding, where the disco was like a stylized hayloft. In the process of dancing the guests broke the floor. Very often karaoke is arranged, and then the whole hotel does not sleep until morning.
This is the crown of the wedding. The place is always chosen very carefully. This may be, for example, a high-mountain hotel with a gorgeous view, or an old villa, or, as we had it, one of the oldest restaurants in Bern in the beautiful ballroom.
Menus are negotiated in advance, as a rule, the couple comes and tastes all the dishes, as well as wines. Since the banquet is the most expensive part of the event, all dishes are delicious and very beautifully served. By the way, traditionally every guest around his place at the table expects a small gift from the newlyweds. This is, most often, some small dessert (beautifully packaged chocolate, for example) or some other nice little thing. At my wedding, we presented the guests of the almond bears (they are made in one of the famous confectioneries of Bern), for men the bears were “dressed” in a tail coat, for girls – in a white dress.
A separate theme is the wedding cake. He is always decorated with figures of the bride and groom, who then decorate the apartment of the couple. And besides the cake, after the banquet, all guests will enjoy a dessert buffet. And I advise you to “save” the appetite, such a variety of confectionery products, as well as various fruits, is offered to attention.
It is not accepted to come with bouquets of flowers. Yes, and it is inconvenient, especially if you had to move during the event.
Usually, at the very invitation, the couple writes what they would like to receive as a gift. Most often, this is any amount of money for some particular purpose (home furnishings, travel). Some provide accounts to charity organizations where they are asked to make a contribution. For example, it was at the last wedding I attended: the bride works as a doctor in a children’s hospital, and instead of a gift she asked to make any contribution to distribute seriously ill children.
In addition to money, they often give something beautiful for the house (photo frames, for example), good wine or gift certificates to spa hotels, restaurants or shops.
What is the amount to give?
It depends, first, on what part of the wedding you are invited to, as well as on the format of the event. On average, you can expect this: the approximate cost of dinner per person in the selected location will be the necessary amount. But, of course, no one limits you, and also does not force unlimited spending.
And sometimes instead of the above, there is a “surprise”. At my wedding, after registration, we were brought to the flight after, where a helicopter waited for us, where my husband and I flew over the whole canton while the guests sailed along the river.
For guests invited only to the ceremony and Apero, there is usually no dress code, as often the event takes place during the day or morning and on a working day, so guests can often be seen in smart casuals or even jeans. But if the invitation indicates “festive clothing”, then be sure that you will see evening dresses on the floor, tuxedos, and expensive jewelry. Sometimes a special dress code is indicated, for example, as was my sister-in-law, the style of the 20s, in this case no one is limited to your imagination. Especially because at such events a costume contest is being held, so there is a reason to come up with something interesting.
In general, I visited 10 Swiss weddings, and I can confidently say that you will not be bored!
Maria Mayer, organizer of hiking tours in Switzerland
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