Family legends


Every family has its own series of legends constantly retold. In my own, one of the enduring legends that fascinated me since youth was the story of my parents' marriage, which took place in 1965, in then-communist Czechoslovakia. My parents, both in their twenties then, took their vows at a local town hall.

What was important - and remained deeply ingrained in my mind - was my parents' decision to get married on something of a whim, inviting no one but their best friends as witnesses. Why? I'm not sure they themselves knew, but I think they felt they wanted to experience the day fully for themselves, and themselves alone.

The part I always found most entertaining was my mother buying her flowers on her own at - of all places at a local cemetery (!) - Prague's Olsanska, by the Vinohrady district where she lived at that time.

She was worried my father would forget.

But, I don't think it was a bad choice: if the flowers had anything at all to do with it: my parents' marriage has now lasted 39 years!

So, not so long ago my girlfriend and I decided that when the time came to marry we would try something similar. Not follow outmoded social conventions by inviting every single last family member we never knew we had.

So, we simply didn't.

Instead of the usual, the bride wore red not white. The ceremony was short not long. And we weren't exactly sober.

Also, the invited carried water guns they had to leave at the door shortly before the ceremony began.

Finally, can you imagine? The organist chose the theme from the European western Winnetou - the Apache knight - which had my wife - and our guests trying to suppress laughter as we took our vows!

That's what you get for not agreeing with the organist on a song in advance.

Still, you'd never believe what dignity the song leant to the mayor's words - something I'll never forget! Now, I'll have to watch the whole Winnetou series next time it's on, a favourite in the Czech Republic.

In the end the day may not have been traditional - but it was most definitely "ours".