National Theatre plans offer of wedding services

National Theatre

Holding your wedding at a country castle or chateau in the Czech Republic is nothing unusual – a service used by countless couples. But now, even Prague’s National Theatre might be getting into the game. It turns out that couples may soon be able to get married either in a salon at the theatre or even on stage at the historic Estates Theatre. Some, however, have already come out against the idea.

National Theatre
Wedding services at the National Theatre, one of the great symbols of the Czech National Revival and Czech statehood - may seem a little over the top, but there’s no question for many couples planning to get married it would be a more than attractive venue. Soon, they may be able to. In an interview for the Czech newspaper Právo the head of the National Theatre Ondřej Černý explained the theatre had begun considering the idea after a soloist in the ballet got married on the premises, earlier this year.

But he stressed if the idea went ahead, weddings on the premises would not be cheap: around 30 to 40 thousand crowns for a salon at the National Theatre and 90 thousand if couples opted for the stage at Prague’s Estates Theatre, the same stage before which Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart himself conducted the premiere of Don Giovanni in 1787; an attractive venue indeed.

Jiří Besser
Not surprisingly, not all are enamoured with the idea and some have already come out against, most notably the country’s culture minister. Jiří Besser, said to have been caught off guard by the theatre’s plans, told Czech Radio on Wednesday that he did not support it, making clear wedding services especially at the National Theatre would be inappropriate.

“As the former mayor of Beroun I married off couples in a beautiful salon in the town hall and there’s no question that getting married in the National Theatre would be a wonderful experience for many. But I don’t think that the National Theatre should be the site for wedding ceremonies, not least at a time when more than half of Czech marriages end in divorce.”

Estates Theatre
Czech Radio’s main news station Radiožurnál reported that the National Theatre’s plan to allow wedding ceremonies came, at least in part, to counter the 15 percent budget cut introduced by the government for 2011. The cuts will reportedly leave the theatre 80 million crowns in the hole, forcing the theatre, like numerous state-run institutions, to cut salaries and lay off staff. Paid weddings services would hardly patch over the gap but could at least somewhat sweeten the bitter pill.

Other cultural institutions, meanwhile, expected to be hit hard by the cuts next year will take steps of their own to offset the situation. The National Gallery, for example, has already slashed free visits and may reportedly mothball some exhibitions during the difficult times ahead.