I knew full well that I needed at least an hour to get to the church but I still cut it very close, taking a wrong turn when I was just a few minutes away. By the time I pulled into the parking lot the church bells were ringing, so I quickly swung the E-Class into a too-tight space and got attacked by a thorny bush as I climbed out of the car. I got rocks in my sandals as I trotted past the smiling bridesmaids waiting outside the door and hurried into the church, which was an incredible 9th-century stone structure with a gorgeous view of the
A few moments later the church’s tiny organ started up and Judy entered on her father’s arm, a vision in billowing cream silk and pearls, along with her two bridesmaids in fluttery aqua dresses. Judy’s family brought their reverend from
The sequence of the ceremony was not far off of that of an American wedding. After the greeting, the Junge Chor Stuttgart (the choir Judy sings in) sang in English, followed by an introductory prayer from both ministers, and then we all sang a hymn together. I found it very hard to sing along in English while the choir sang in German, so I switched to the German version halfway through.
The two ministers gave short individual sermons (I could understand enough of the German to recognize that they were two different sermons), followed by readings of the well-known “Love is patient, love is kind” passage from 1 Corinthians 13. Then the bride and groom exchanged vows – Judy in English and Achim in German. There was a hilarious moment when the English reverend said, “Do you Judy take Achim as your wife,” and Judy responded “I take Achim as my…husband,” and everyone burst out laughing. I couldn’t see the minister or the couple, as my view was blocked by a woman wearing a large fuschia hat with enormous plumes of black and fuschia feathers bursting out of it, but I am sure the minister’s face matched the color of the hat at that moment! The rest of the ceremony proceeded without incident – the giving of rings, the blessing, another song by the choir, and the final prayers. We sang another bilingual hymn together, the marriage bible was presented, and the choir sang a gorgeous rendition of “Scarborough Fair.” (It was so beautiful that two of the small children in the audience were howling pathetically as the last notes faded away.) Finally there was the recessional accompanied by organ music and the audience walked through a red rose arbor formed by the members of the choir as we exited the church.
I stayed for the champagne reception outside – it had been a bit overcast this morning but by afternoon the sky was blue and dotted with puffy white clouds. As part of German tradition, the newlyweds had to perform some little tasks together – one of which involved two of their friends dressed up in lab coats and holding beakers of dubious-looking liquids. We weren’t close enough to hear what was going on but Judy and Achim had to put on lab coats and drink the contents of the beakers. Beth said that at her wedding she and Axl had to saw through a log with a double-handled saw. After greeting the happy couple, I chatted with Beth and Axl for a bit about the Chrysler sale and we explored the grounds of the church while sipping champagne and munching on meat- and cheese-filled puff pastries.
I think I've mentioned that Achim works for the