Wedding cupcakes

I just realized that I never shared this part of our wedding on the blog. Looking back on these photos got me thinking a little bit about how this wedding cake (and cupcakes) represented an interesting cultural difference between Americans and Germans.

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Being in any relationship means making compromises. Striking a balance. Finding out what works. Being in an intercultural relationship also means making compromises, perhaps even more so because of cultural differences. There were a few things that popped up while planning our wedding that I felt surprisingly strongly about. Traditions that just seemed normal were all of a sudden different than my husband’s traditions, and while his were not bad (just different!), I was surprised at how emotionally charged some things were for me.

Take our wedding cake for example. Americans have the wedding cake on display at the reception so all the guests can “ooh” and “ahh” at it. Nobody would dare serve themselves any cake until after the bride and groom had cut it and shared their big moment.

Germans, however, bring the cake out at midnight, also accompanied by some sort of midnight snack. We had tomato soup; another wedding we went to had a huge cheese platter. The cake itself is a secret until it is brought out and unveiled to the guests. They still “ooh” and “ahh” and the couple cuts the cake. Another cultural difference is that the German couple usually cuts the whole cake and then serves the guests, too!

When Tobias mentioned the midnight rule, I was so [unexpectedly] sad! When would our guests get a chance to marvel at our beautiful wedding cake? Our photographer was only booked until right after dinner. We wouldn’t have any professional photos of our cake! That, however, was a stupid thing to worry about, since at least one-third of our guests were Tobi’s photographer friends. Silly me. We still got great pictures!

I definitely had to reevaluate my priorities. “When in Rome…” I decided: we did it German style. The Germans loved the very American cupcakes. (And only a few called them “muffins”. Ahem.)

Besides, our outdoor reception location didn’t have room to have all those cupcakes set up the whole time, anyway. The heat would’ve also melted the buttercream frosting if we’d had it sitting out in the sun. That…and bugs. So practicality also won out.

The thing that mattered most to me was that we use my grandma’s wedding cake topper that she and my grandpa, my parents, and my aunt and uncle had all used at their weddings. My little bit of family history. In the end, the timing of it all ended up being no big deal to me. It was our day, and it was special regardless.

When cultural differences or disagreements pop up, it’s okay to feel a little sad. That’s normal. Use it as a learning experience. Discuss the matter with your partner. List out the pros and cons. Try to see things objectively (like the practical side of things), while also acknowledging your emotional side. You will learn a lot about each other, about what you feel is important, and you can create your own way together. Besides, a wedding is all about you and your partner. And the exercise in compromise will help towards a lifetime of other experiences.

Our trip to Bielefeld

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Two weekends ago, we took a trip to Bielefeld for the wedding of one of Tobi’s childhood friends. We took the train up (veeeeery early, I might add!) the same day. Our cousin Christoph picked us up from the station and we had breakfast with his family before going to Tobi’s parents’ house to have lunch and get ready for the wedding. Theo wore his baptism outfit again.

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The wedding service was good, especially when Tobias played his cello in the string quartet. Theo cried a bit, but otherwise did really well. The reception was really nice, too, and the food was great! There was a fun photo booth setup for the guest book…here are the bride and groom! (He’s a chemist, so there were all sorts of props related to that…)

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Theo even had his own seat and place card!

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We had fun talking to this couple, who actually live in Chicago and flew in for the wedding.

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German weddings also include a number of games. They had quite a few of them here, including musical contributions, a poem, picture slideshows, and a game where the bride and groom had to sit back to back and answer questions about themselves by holding up the groom’s shoe or the bride’s shoe depending on the answer. (i.e. Who takes up the most room in bed? Who dances better? Who cooks better?) It’s funny when the couple doesn’t answer the same way!

The one that most made me laugh, however, was this very interesting version of the opera Carmen…sung by sock puppets!

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And then, when Theo was sleeping soundly in the stroller, we joined these people on the dance floor. At some point, it was only the kids, the bride and groom, and us out there dancing. The best part was that the kids copied everything Tobias did – he was the dancing trendsetter! At one point, I said to him that he could do whatever he wants and the kids would follow, kind of like a cult leader or something. Which led to some extremely funny “dance” moves, including a conga line that snaked in and out of itself, and the time he removed one shoe and put it in the middle of the circle. When all of the kids did the same, he then took one shoe back out of the middle — not his! — and put it on and danced around with it for a bit before switching back to the correct shoe. It was hilarious!

True to German fashion, the wedding cake came out at midnight. As well as a midnight snack. I chose cheese over cake!

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German gift-giving: don’t forget the cellophane!

Germans are really good at presenting gifts. Especially when that gift comes in the form of cash. You don’t just stick it in a card and call it a day. It must be folded into some shape and built into some sort of diorama, which is then wrapped up in cellophane to give it that nice, festive look, but that doesn’t require you to actually unwrap the present right away because you can already see what’s inside.

Like this picture frame with an island scene and a money boat:

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Or this vase with a ladder and a bunch of some sort of googly-eyed, arrow-like creatures crawling up it…(not sure what that’s supposed to be; perhaps an inside joke?)

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See?

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You can’t see it in this picture very well, but the one in front with the big red bow on it was a house built out of money, complete with farm animals and trees. (The couple just bought a house, so I’m guessing it is to go towards costs for that.)

Interesting, right? We also gave money, but weren’t quite as creative. We just stuck the money in the card. Although we at least folded it into a paper airplane before putting it in the card, which I wouldn’t have thought of if it hadn’t been for Tobias being German.

It was all in all a lovely evening, and very fun to experience another German wedding. And it was Theo’s very first wedding!

4th Germanniversary

Today marks 4 years in Hamburg…

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And two years of marriage (well, our official Standesamt wedding) to this awesome guy.

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Our real anniversary is on the 4th…which is good, because Tobi will be back from Mallorca then! We didn’t get to see each other on our anniversary last year because he was on a job. And now we have a baby. Guess we’ll see what we want to do to celebrate this year!

Wedding photos by Annette Schrader.

A year ago today

Exactly one year ago today, Tobias popped the question!

Let’s get another shot of that beautiful ring up in here…

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BAM!

I took that picture the day after the proposal. I figured it was fitting to have it pose with the Christmas tree next to which Tobias asked me to marry him. And the crossword puzzle is currently on display on one of our bookshelves. So sweet. I plan on framing it sometime.

And now I’m on my honeymoon with my husband!

So much can happen in a year!

Packing, packing

Packing for a honeymoon is no different than packing for a vacation (although a honeymoon probably includes more lingerie!). For some inspiration, I looked online – found a few tips on tropical honeymoons here and here. And I really liked this mood board.

I started on Sunday and pulled a few things out of my closet and stacked them in a pile. I just took that pile and spread it out on the bed so I could visualize what I’ve got. Then I tried on a few things, then put a few back. It’s hard to pack light! I don’t know about you, but I like to have options when I’m traveling.

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I’ve got:

– 2 bathing suits and a surf top
– a few pieces of sleepwear
– 7 pairs of socks
– 9 pairs of underwear
– 2 bras
– 2 tank tops
– 2 t-shirts
– 2 pairs of shorts
– 1 pair of capris
– 3 dresses
– 1 maxi dress
– 1 skirt
– 1 short-sleeved cardigan
– 2 necklaces, 2 pairs of earrings
– 3 shirts

Okay, that still might be too much. But we are gone for just about 2 and a half weeks. And it’s a tropical climate and rainy season so it’s possible I’ll need some dry clothes to change into, either from sweat or rain!

And shoes. I’m going to wear sneakers for sightseeing. I’m trying to decide whether to bring my Birkenstocks, which are more comfortable but less able to be dressed up, or a pair of gladiator sandals. Or bringing both of those and leaving the flip flops behind. All the packing guides say not to bring more than 3 pairs of shoes! Although sandals are considerably lighter than shoes. Maybe I can count my flip flops and gladiator sandals as one pair. No?

And I’ll be wearing a pair of jeans on the plane, along with a long-sleeved cardigan and my rain coat.

I feel like I should have taken tomorrow off work too, but unfortunately have a pretty busy day tomorrow. At least our plane doesn’t leave until 2:35 on Thursday afternoon, so we can get up early and finish packing. Tobias hasn’t started yet.

I bought three bottles of sunscreen at the drug store yesterday. And the lady at the check-out asked me if I was flying to Australia. Close – Bali! The lady behind me in line said she was wondering the same thing. I must also say that it’s strange packing summer clothes when outside it’s as wintry as can be – snow on the ground and below-freezing temperatures!