I’m in Valbella in the Swiss German speaking part of Switzerland. I’m going to blog tomorrow about our out trip but today I wanted to talk about two things. Swiss weddings and the Swiss languages.
First up, the weddings. I consider myself a bit of an expert at Swiss wedding since I’ve had one here. But for those of you who aren’t familiar with them, I’ll give you a little insight as we just attended another one for my hubby’s best friends last weekend at the Beau Rivage Palace in Ouchy. It was uber cool.
A few things to note about weddings in Switzerland. There are 4 events (unlike the standard 2 in Canada). You have your civil wedding which is the wedding where usually only your family and your temoines (maid of honor and best man – these are the only two people you have working for you) are invited to at the city hall. This is the actual bonified, we have our paper and we are married wedding. It consists of a suit for the man and a simple white dress for the woman.
Then either the same day or some days later, there is the big party day. This starts with a wedding usually in a church. But not any ordinary church. We’re talking a church that is a few hundreds of years old and is usually amongst vineyards tucked away in a cobblestone village.
Then we would go for photos and meet up with everyone a few hours later, the Swiss (and the French (as I’ve been to 3 French weddings (I think I’ve actually been to more weddings in Europe than I have in Canada now))) have something that is called “the aperitif”. This is where you and all the people who came to the wedding, go elsewhere to some other location and have drinks and wonderful little dainty appetizers. You mingle and chat for a couple of hours and then you move onto the reception (as we like to call it in Canada. Dinner is what they call it here).
But wait, not everyone goes to the reception. Some people aren’t invited (which for me seems strange but from talking with some people, it’s normal). Anyway, at the wedding we were at on the weekend, there was a SECOND aperitif, with more food and drinks. Talk about fancy. This was located at the same place as the reception.
The reception works much the same way as a Canadian reception where you can either do a sit down dinner or buffet. We did a buffet style but our friends did a sit down. But the biggest difference is that we plow through our meals and speeches and cake whereas the Swiss take their time. And I mean take their time. Dinner starts around 8:00pm. No kidding. And then it ends around 12am. Our friend’s dinner had a little salad, then a speech. Followed by a wonderful risotto/shrimp dish and then another speech. Then the mail course (divine by the way) and then some animations they call them. This is little movies or games that the couple play. Then desert and some more games, then the cutting of the cake and whewf! It’s time for dancing. You’re good and liquored by then since the booze is non-stop and all free usually so dancing is not out of the question.
Dancing lasts until around 4am. Let me say that again. Dancing lasts until around 4am. At our wedding, I think it was 5. It’s literally insane. I’m surprised I’m not asleep under a table at that point. Although I did see one of the guests at last weekends wedding, running through the sprinklers at the end of the night. (Nice Yann!)
The whole night was spectacular. You really couldn’t have asked for more. Oh and in two more weekends from now, we get to do it all over again for another friends wedding although from what I understand, it’s not going to be quite so posh. Heaven help me.
I think I googled Swiss weddings when I was trying to figure out what are the traditions of them were for my wedding, and I couldn’t find much to report so I hope this helps all those out there looking for some advice on what exactly happens during such an event.
Thanks Jule and Steph for such and amazing time. I think I can safely say, everyone had a GREAT time (except for maybe a certain vegetarian)!
Now onto the Swiss languages. There are four official Swiss languages here. French, German, Italian and Romanch. English is not an official language although a lot of people speak it here fluently. French is obvious as there is a French speaking part of Switzerland. I always get confused with German and Swiss German. What the hell is the difference?? But from what I’ve been told, Swiss German is only a spoken language like gangsta speak I can only assume. I kid. So some people speak both German and Swiss German but it’s not interchangeable.
There is a beautiful little spot in the south of Switzerland really close to Italy that speaks Italian. It’s wonderful. So that makes sense too. And then there’s Romanch which is a fading dialect that only a handful of people speak.
Ok, so get this. Switzerland is the size of Vancouver Island. Say what?!? You’ve got four official languages wrapped within 25 and 2 half provinces (huh? I just asked my hubby how many provinces there were and that is what he told me so go figure.) with several different accents in a country that takes 4 hours to drive across. I JUST drove across Canada and there is no way I can even compare that. Crazy insane.
So back to my train of thought. For the past 2+ weeks I’ve been here, I’ve been rocking French. Ok, so maybe I’m exaggerating a bit but I’m getting better and people don’t laugh as much at me as they used to.
We drive 1.5 hours and now we’re in the German speaking part. I can’t even say please and thank you or hello anymore. WTF? Seriously? This seems a little ridiculous and now I’m getting even more frustrated as I can’t read a menu, a road sign (speaking of road sign I had a little laugh today as I saw a sign that said “ausfarht”. No really? Ass fart? Gotta love German.) the toilette, etc… you get the idea. I’ve gone from 80% capable to 0 in about 1.5 hours. I can’t even speak French in this German speaking part of Switzerland. I find myself saying “merci” and then “thank you” and finally wrapping up with “danka”. Shit. I’m all discombobulated. People pass me on the path while we’re high up in the mountains and I can’t even say hello so I just look at them and smile. Ugh.
My tweenager even asked today if there was another language she could learn in school if she wanted to. Might as well since Canada is the second biggest country in all of the world and we only have two official languages that only about 5% of the population can speak both of the fluently.
I say, rock it while you’re here girl.