Where to begin? There hasn’t actually been a start or an end. It’s a continuing process, from the day we decided to be together, to walk the rough path notwithstanding other people’s warning, to bear with the distance and to anticipate the next goodbyes, to bridge the differences every now and then, and finally to say yes to each other for the rest of our lives.
I was not really aware of this when I turned off my alarm clock. The night was very long, I didn’t really sleep. There was no ending of the day before and no beginning for the coming one. 5.30 a.m. My mind was full of details. It was full of schedule and time planning. In between the shower I heard Tante Christine opened the bedroom door. She’s awake, I was relieved.
It was way too early for everybody. The sky was grey, the wind blown cold, the street was empty, and we walked to the train station. Tante Christine said that this is the first time in her life, that she experiences walking with the bride at the wedding day to the train station, in the rain.
I laughed. My luggage was heavy. My wedding dress is in it, along with the gloves, the shoes, the tiara, the veil and everything a bride needs. I waited months to see this dress again, which turned out to be too big and had to be altered instantly, and then there I was, thinking I’d wear this dress for the first and last time in my life.
We arrived on time at the hairdresser. While having my hair done, I got my first coffee. The lady talked, I talked to her. It was just like any other conversation between a customer and a salon lady. We talked about the weather, about her little girl, about Indonesia and about my hair. Tante Christine sat silently and did her make-up before doing mine. Everything was right on time. That was everything that mattered to me. From time to time Lothar called to report what happens in the outside world. They’re going now out of the apartment. They’re picking up Kristina. They’re at the brewery. How about the catering people? How could they come in if everybody is in church? Just leave the gate open, nothing will happen. Are you sure? Yes, we won’t be long. Okay, I just met your family, they just arrived. Oh yeah, I just saw your family walking passed the salon too, with umbrellas. So are you nervous? No, not really. Me neither.
Philipp would pick me up at 10.45. I still had 10 minutes to change. After the many practices at home, I knew already how to do it fast. First the stockings, the blue garter, the shoes, the corset, and then pull the dress from below, had Tante Christine help with the zip, put on the jacket and the earrings, the gloves, the veil and I was all set. I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, how in the world can I walk in this thing?
10.45 a.m. The street in Friedrichshagen was getting busy. No sign of Philipp. Many people asked a few days before the day whether I was nervous during the whole preparation. Nervousness was something I couldn’t afford. I was excited about my family coming. I was excited about the wedding, but not so much that I got nervous. Everyday was like a race for both of us. We went to bed exhausted. Sleep was a necessity to recharge ourselves to run new errands the next day. At this very moment though, at around 10.48 a.m, I got nervous. My stomach got upset and my heart pounded. Everything will go wrong. Lothar forgets the rings and nobody will come because of the shitty weather. The florist makes an ugly flower bouquet and the singers in the church are sick. Oh, and Lothar changes his mind. He’ll cancel everything. The hairdresser lady kept on saying that everything will be alright, I didn’t buy it until I saw the little white ribbon tied onto this black car approaching us. My mind betrayed me. The look at Kristina’s face, which I, in a healthy state would consider as a compliment, made me think, it must have been the make up! I look terrible. Or the dress. Or it was me. I am too fat to fit in this dress. Kristina took me out and Philipp said, “Lothar ist ein Glückspilz!” And I thought he lied.
Everybody stood in front of the church. I came in and found my mom and my sisters. It was like coming home. Looking at her almost-crying-but-trying-hard-to-look-normal-face I knew I was not alone. The pastor greeted me and asked where the groom is. I had this funny feeling again in my stomach. Kristina said that he’s on the way. Her voice was soft and soothing but her presence was unclear. Everybody blurred. It was Lothar whom I saw. He came in with an umbrella, all dressed-up holding my flower. It was pretty weird having this reunion where 50 other people are watching and taking pictures. We didn’t really care though. He said I look good.
After a short hallo Lothar said that we’re ready. The church bell chimed. The pastor first, then Audrey, our little flower child who was very busy doing her job, then us, then the families, then the guests. The first five rows were decorated. That’s also where everybody should take their sit.
The pastor, who did everything twice, since he did it in English and in German, made the ceremony the perfect one. I got to read the first scripture (Eccl 4:9-12) in German and Lothar the second (Mark 10:6-9) in English. Wu Wei, the Sheng-Master performed his own composed song after the sermon. Tears flew, hearts touched, how good is God who unite us together. I chose Ruth 1: 16-17 for the sermon.
And then came the question of all questions. Yes, God help us. Philipp came with the rings. It was a struggle. First because of my gloves and second because of Lothar’s finger. We made it through though. I can imagine this process as a symbol to all our fights to get this far. Once it got through, it never gets off.
The pastor asked us to lower down a bit so that he could touch our heads. I knelt down and Lothar squatted. This is one of the scenes which make me laugh every time I look at them. When the prayer was done, I stood up and went back to the chair. Everybody at the front row saw what we saw: my blue garter. It went off as I knelt down. The pastor looked at it and said, “oh”.
Lothar grabbed it and put it in his pocket as fast as he could. It doesn’t really work though, now we’ve got hundreds of pictures of this particular scene.
The church bell chimed again, it’s time to go and celebrate. Now as man and wife. Katrin ran to the gate and distributed the rose petals. I saw my mom throwing the petals on us. She looked happy and sad at the same time. I’ve never seen my mom like that. Then I saw the other guests and I knew: there’s something to celebrate! We did it.
Lothar and I got into Philipp’s car and we rode to the brewery. It was an about 5 minutes ride but he honked. He did it really annoyingly that some people on the street looked at us irritated. I had to show my bride-look outside the window to beg for their understanding. Then they smiled.
After everybody arrived and sat at their places we told the catering to distribute the champagnes, which were accidentally stored in the freezer. The toast with iced champagne. Philipp did a wonderful spontaneous speech and we opened the buffet with the cutting of the “tumpeng”.
Fyi: Tumpeng is made of yellow rice, which is formed like a mountain top. It is usually used to open a ceremony by some important people by cutting its top. I did the cutting in this case.
The food was splendid. Even Günter, who never eats anything else but German foods (or at least never likes any), took his second plate. I couldn’t eat too much, due to my corset and the fear of ruining my dress (which was at the end ruined anyway) and the excitement of meeting everybody. Miles, our dearest friend from Melbourne, came all the way to Berlin to attend the wedding. Well, he was supposed to be in Paris for a concert with his band but decided to come over and celebrate with us. Erik, whom Lothar got to know during his stay in Australia, came all the way from Norway. And then there’s Ilia, our Belarus friend who lives in Vienna, Edouard, a funny French guy living in London, Julia from the Netherland, and of course some local, yet faraway friends. Philipp and Lothar’s family from Hamburg, Jane from Karlsruhe, Tommi from Frankfurt, my family of course.
In the evening we arranged a boat tour for the guests. The brewery is located nearby the lake Müggelsee. The weather wasn’t that great to spend the day outside, like we planed. Instead of using the patio, we spent most of the time inside, which is such a shame. Some guests came out with jackets though and the patio was used during coffee.
Katrin made the wedding cake. It was made of 3 different cakes: the first level was a chocolate cake, the second level was a cheese cake and the lowest level is a carrot cake. Every single bite felt like heaven. We couldn’t find a table to place the not-so-small cake, this explains the photos of the not-so-tall me trying to see under Lothar’s arm. The first piece was given by Lothar to my mom, the second by me to his mom.
The rest of the day was pretty relaxed. Everybody talked to everybody. Later on we found out that some of the guests, who didn’t know each other before the wedding, went out for a beer or coffee. It reminds me of our habit of inviting people and cook for them. We’re not party people. The wedding was everything else but wild. It was in fact, all about talking and chatting. I was sometimes afraid that the guests would be bored, but after a while I quit worrying and let the guests do their part. This party was so us. That’s why I keep on saying that if I were to get married once again, this is exactly the kind of wedding that I’d like to have all over again.
As for my family, everything is so different that they didn’t really complain about anything. They seemed bored, which is understandable, since the talking on the air was all in languages that they didn’t or hardly understand. Jane took care of them. My dear bridesmaid. My tower of strength. She was everywhere, translating everything, explaining things.
Our singer came on time. Sandhi is a great blues singer songwriter we got to know from another friend. He played some songs and everybody paid attention with big eyes. At one point, he asked if there’s a request. I shouted, play some Indonesian songs! He said, sing with me! And I had a few glasses of wine. So I came up on the stage and sang with him a song, a quite famous Indonesian song back then in my school years. Lovely. Embarrassing, but lovely.
Each guest got some kind of a book. We wrote inside who everybody is and there are 30 questions to be answered. They are allowed to form a group up to 3 persons and ask around. We announced the answer to each question. The winner got 19 correct answers from 30 questions and are invited to have dinner with us in our new apartment. Das perfekte Priscilla und Lothars Dinner. Afterwards Julia and Nils went on the stage and announced a game. Lothar and I had to sit with our backs facing each other and take off one shoe. So we have our shoe and each other’s shoe. Questions were being asked and the answer was the owner of the shoe. “Who does the grocery shopping?” Lothar’s shoe. “Who washes the dishes more often?” Priscilla’s shoe. We got 27 matching answers and 5 not-matching answers. Ha!
The night got darker and colder. The atmosphere warmer. I don’t know where the guests find out about the wedding dance, which we planned to perform, but they were getting restless and asked around. When is the dance? Are they gonna dance? We were actually not sure yet whether we’d do it. We took the lessons, we practiced, we were ready. The problem was my dress. No offence to my dear friend, from whom I bought this dress, but I didn’t want it to be that long. This dress that I was wearing in my wedding has a very long train, which made it impossible for me to dance. I found out that there’s a little ribbon, actually purposed to hang the train, which I could use to lift the dress with my finger, to create some space for me feet to move. Another problem is the dirt. The brewery is not a hotel. It’s full of dirt and other black stuffs. From inside, my dress was disgusting. If I lift it up, everybody can see how black it was. Thanks the power of chemicals, it’s now pretty much clean again.
Jane said, do it, nobody cares. Kristina said, do it, you have to do it, all guests are waiting. Philipp said, he’d be disappointed if we don’t do it. Lothar said, we’ll make a comedy out of this dance. I said, it’s gonna be embarrassing. Then everybody said, dance! Dance! And we did.
“When the deal goes down” from Bob Dylan was the song. We did it well, unexpectedly. I only had to keep my eyes to Lothar’s and everything went well. I didn’t look at anything else but his face and he mine. Kristina said, it was the most romantic waltz dance she’s ever seen in her life. It was for me the most romantic waltz dance I’ve ever done in my life. It was most of all, the most romantic moment in the whole day, we were just alone in the moment. Well, with Bob in the background. "I’ll be with you … when the deal goes down… "
There were not much more to tell. Lothar’s cousin and her husband and their daughter started warming up the dance floor. We joined them to Jan Delay’s Feuer but that was it. Some guests said goodbye. They looked tired but happy. Lothar looked tired. Not long after the first few guests were gone, he grabbed my hand and said, let’s go. I thought the marrying couple should wait until all guests are gone. I guess this time it doesn’t matter. It was a long day anyway, it was a long week, a long month for both of us. We needed the rest. I was tipsy. My dress was dirty. The little jacket I was wearing the whole time was gone. My shoulders were free. Lothar picked up the video camera that his mom forgot to bring and I picked up my wedding bouquet. We walked outside with some of the guests, I grabbed Kristina’s glass of champagne and brought it back to the hotel. We walked. The street was not very empty. Some people still looked entertained as they saw us across the street. A tipsy bride in a long wedding dress with a bouquet on one hand and a glass of champagne on the other hand with a tired looking groom in his suit holding a bag (with my clothes in it.) We arrived at the hotel, opened the room, Lothar had to carry me in although he could barely stand. The room was filled with heart-shaped balloons and confetti. I asked Lothar if he told the hotel that this room is going to be a wedding room. He said he did. We assumed it was the work of the hotel. We found out later on that our three elves did it. They asked for our keys and decorated the room, even the bathroom with those kitschy heart-shaped stuffs. It was the sweetest thing someone could find at the end of a tiring day.
And the wedding night? Lothar and Priscilla were saying goodbye to the rest of the world and enter their own land of togetherness …