Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bret and Lucie's Wedding!!

Now that I have some down time, I figured it’s time to blog about my brother’s wedding. It was this last Saturday, and it was an incredible event! My brother (Bret) has been living in Prague, Czech Republic for roughly the last 6 years. During most of that time, he’s been dating a very sweet Czech girl named Lucie Fricova. Almost every time we’ve seen Bret when we’ve traveled to Europe or when he’s flown home, we’ve seen Lucie as well, and thus have had many opportunities to get to know her. She’s an incredible person, so we were excited and supportive of Bret when he told us that he proposed to her last Valentine’s Day. Well, the day came yesterday, and it was a great celebration.

We arrived in Prague about 5 days before the wedding, and spent time doing a combination of sight-seeing and helping Bret and Lucie with various items to prepare for the wedding (mainly my dad and I getting fitted for our tuxes with Bret, but there were other small things). This was our third trip to Prague, so we didn’t feel the need to do a whole lot of sight-seeing around, but it is an incredible city, and I highly recommend anyone go to visit. Most of my extended family was not able to come, other than my oldest aunt and uncle from PA. But many of my parents friends from their care group/bible study from PCC were able to come out! We were joined by Don and Marian Block, Bill and Ute Hayes, and Phyllis Brown. All of our actual relatives are in the Midwest and on the East coast, so these other folks are like a second family to Bret and I, so it was wonderful to have them there to celebrate.

Prague Castle

My dad and I with the Prague Golem
Tyn Church in Old Town Square

My parents and I

Dinner with Lucie's family

The wedding itself was at a castle about an hour’s drive outside of Prague in a place called Krivoklat. It was the first day-trip date that Bret and Lucie went on together, so it was a fitting location for them to get married. It’s a small charming town, and the castle is very cool (most of us were able to get a great tour of the castle the morning of the wedding). They got married on a pathway on one side of the castle, underneath an archway. While the weather wasn’t the greatest at the start of the day, the clouds and wind mostly cleared up by the time of the wedding, so it was very nice and comfortable outside. Lucie looked beautiful, and all of us were incredibly joyful about the whole thing.

Some shots of Krivoklat Castle

The happy couple

We could take James Bond on!!

Czech weddings are quite interesting. The Czech Republic is predominantly atheist, which is ironic considering how many cathedrals there are in Prague. Like most of Europe, they have a very rich religious history, but Communism really does do a lot to wipe out any sentimentality towards religion or spirituality. I often explain that in the US, most people will say they’re spiritual or that they believe in God. In the Czech Republic, people aren’t even all that spiritual. Most don’t bother to take the time to have any concept of God, let alone Jesus. The worldview is really simple – just enjoy life and be a good person. It will probably be another generation or two before any sense of spiritual renewal among Czechs becomes prominent. Needless to say, Lucie is an atheist, and Bret likewise doesn’t have any faith beliefs or practices that are part of his life. So, when they asked me to speak at their wedding, I knew it was going to be a unique experience.

Because of the lack of religion, the typical Czech wedding is more about the legal issues of marriage than anything else. Love and relationships are definitely talked about, but what’s most highlighted are the legal bindings of marriage. The person that performs the ceremony is a registrar who works for the government, someone who has no personal relationship with the bride and groom. But Bret and Lucie wanted their wedding to be more substantial, which I think is part of the reason why they asked me to speak. The wedding was done with a translator, and I spoke in between the portions where the registrar spoke.

Bret and Lucie asked me speak at their wedding maybe 6 months or so ago, so my ideas for what to say had been marinating in my mind for a long time. I told Bret that out of my own personal convictions, I had to talk about God in my message. I didn’t mention Jesus, but I talked about how God has created us to love and be in loving relationships, and that God helps us to love when we fall short (if you want to read my message, it’s posted here). Finally about a week before we left for Europe, I sat down to write the wedding homily, and emailed it off to Bret and Lucie to make sure it met their approval. They approved the first draft, absolutely loving it! I was amazed, as I expected that I would have to write 2 or 3 more drafts. Lots of prayer went into the writing, my speaking, and ultimately into how it was received by everyone, but particularly Bret and Lucie. Thanks to all of you who were praying about this, the fruit of it came through incredibly! Everybody enjoyed the message, as I received a lot of encouraging compliments from our friends and family, and from many of Bret and Lucie’s friends and family. During the reception afterwards, I definitely had a lot of fun but interesting conversations with people about Christianity, but more about my desire to be a youth pastor. Most people there think I want to be a priest!

After the ceremony, we moved on to take pictures in the castle courtyard and then the reception. The family and wedding party had a special dinner separate from everyone else. We had a fabulous dinner, but the rest of the guests’ buffet options looked quite good as well (they were slow roasting a whole pig and served it!) During our dinner, Bret and Lucie had to eat the soup out of the same bowl, and had a large bib wrapped around both of them! I guess that’s the Czech version of the bride and groom feeding cake to each other. It was pretty funny. Both my dad and my uncle gave toasts, but who knows if Lucie’s family understood or not (the translator from the ceremony said his job was done for the day!).

Eating soup with a giant bib!

Cutting the cake

After cake, the dancing began. Bret and Lucie’s choice in music was also interesting, because Bret’s not really a fan of mainstream pop or rock and roll music (mostly industrial, electronic, and drum & bass). He loves DJ-ing, and had one of his friends run the music. Not too many of the songs were really dancing songs, but Bret and Lucie and others managed to work with it. Early on, they played a few traditional Czech polka songs, and a man who was a longtime friend of Lucie’s family was a very good dancer. Bret and Lucie, meanwhile, faked it, and then polka’d right out of the room together!

Various dancing shots. Can you tell which ones are the polka ones?

I like this one in particular.

Another Czech tradition that is unique to us is the kidnapping and ransoming of the bride. At some point in the evening, the groom’s friends kidnap the bride, take her to a bar or pub and begin to get her drunk with a bunch of shots. The groom has to come find her and pay the tab to “ransom” her back. Fortunately, Bret knew about the tradition, and only noticed Lucie was gone after about 20 minutes or so. And because Krivoklat is a really small town, there were only two or three possible places where she could be. So they found her pretty quickly before the tab got too expensive!

Sorry that this is such a long post, but it was quite a day, and worth taking the time to tell of the highlights and how special it was. I know for me, it was a great day to see my brother and Lucie get married, as they truly are in love with each other. I’m confident that God spoke and said what needed to be said. I’m thankful for all the encouragement and affirmations I received from my friends and family. I even got to pray for Bret before the ceremony started, something I haven’t done with him for a VERY long time. Everything turned out great, and I’m thankful that God provided and guided and spoke through the whole thing. Who knows, maybe God planted a few seeds in Bret and Lucie’s hearts and minds. Keep praying for them to come to know Jesus. I confess I’ve had my doubts in the past (and sometimes still do) but am hopeful nevertheless.

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