Around Belgium in Six Days: A Belgian Wedding

The morning of the wedding, we hopped in the car and drove for 1.5 hours to the church of Neufchâteau. (Driving in Belgium was such a traumatic experience that it deserves its own blog post, coming soon.) The weather was unbearably hot and the refreshing morning shower at C & B’s was but a distant memory by the time we got to the church. Capturing our sweat-drenched selves in photographs would have caused some serious nightmares to any future generations, so my camera stayed in the bag for most of the day. The few successful photos of the happy guests I will keep private, but here is a small collection of the most memorable details of the wedding.

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The wedding ceremony was quite similar to the Finnish style. Outside the church, the newlyweds were not showered with rice as is custom in Finland – instead, everyone threw rose petals on them. A fun addition was the paper airplane sendoff. Red and yellow paper planes were given to the guests from separate baskets. Perhaps the colours were supposed to represent the bride’s and the groom’s sides of the family and friends? Bunni and I just rushed to grab the first airplanes we could get our grubby paws on.

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The groom wore a kick-ass top hat and drove his beautiful bride to the location of the wedding reception in the stylish convertible above. The rest of us drove in a queue ahead of them. The reception was held in a castle, Chateau de Resteigne, 40 kilometres from Neufchâteau. Chef and I had reserved a room at the castle for the night, which turned out to be an excellent choice despite the salty price. The day was sunny and warm, but at night the most massive thunderstorm I have ever seen in my life swept over the village. I really would not have wanted to be one of those guests who had opted to camp outside in the castle garden. The lightning looked much better viewed through a window, from the comfort of a soft bed…

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Before dinner, there was a cocktail hour outside the castle. The hors d’œuvre were amazing. Unfortunately, many of the waiters were really apprehensive towards us, but we did just fine as long as we only bothered the one nice gentleman who had no problem with speaking English. For dinner, people were guided to their seats in an imaginative manner, with the help of movie themed puzzles. First, everyone had to find a piece with their name on it from a separate board (picture above), grab the piece and head to the correct table. At the table, each seat had its own puzzle, and each puzzle was missing one piece. When you found the puzzle where your piece fit, you had also found your seat.

The seating must have been very carefully planned, as everyone at our table was more than happy to speak English. All the numerous speeches were of course held in French. Much to my surprise, I could follow the main points quite well! Every once in a while, everyone at a specific table would stand up, yell something that still remains a mystery to me, and then all the guests would toast the newlyweds together. This was repeated in waves throughout the dinner.

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The cherry on top was the spectacular dessert table, which was arranged like a Finnish buffet table. The only difference was that guests were not supposed to grab anything by themselves, but rather ask the waiters to give them an assortment of what they wanted to taste. The apprehensive individuals only gave us tiny slices, but when I went in for seconds, my favourite gentleman plopped a huge chunk of everything on my plate and winked. Such a wonderful man.

The most memorable thing, however, was the overall feeling and how friendly all of the guests were, even toward us language-challenged folk. Chef already knew many of C’s friends from before, but we also got to chat with everyone else, from B’s grandmother to C’s cousins. We stayed on the dance floor until the morning and fortunately had the good sense to stop drinking early enough. By midnight, one of the guys was already so drunk that, despite his best efforts, he could no longer utter a word in any language. A very successful party in every way!

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