The wedding party gathered outside of 12th century Rapperswill Castle on a picture perfect sunny Swiss day overlooking Lake Zurich and the snow covered Alps beyond. Iris looked gorgeous in her satin red dress with a bouquet of yellow, orange and red ranuculus and hair up with small yellow flowers tucked into her curls. A seven year old nephew dressed as a chimmney sweep (symbol of good luck)appeared drawing a small flower festooned wagon with candies for two little flower girl nieces dressed in blue flower gowns to throw.
The ceremony was a small intimate gathering of only family and close friends in an upstairs drawing room of the castle. The bride and groom sat flanked by Dave, Tom’s brother and Regula, Iris’ best friend, at a large table with a bouquet of flowers in the center and natural daylight filtering into the room backlighting the couple as family members surrounded them. The officiant gave a talk on marriage in Swiss German( quite different than high German) then had them sign the contract with their witnesses. As they left the castle gate, they were greeted by bubble blowing friends, waving pinwheels and the kids starting more seriously throwing the candies around.
The wedding party meandered thru the town square to the Apero ( cocktails) in the Rapperswill platz below the castle where the bride and groom were seranaded by an African guitarist and kalimba player. We were also entertained by Tom and his fellow choir members who performed several accapello songs.
The reception was held at the 14th C. Ritterhaus, the knights house, in Uerikon which was a short train trip from Rapperswill. Ritterhaus is a rustic traditional half timber three story stone house right on the edge of the lake. Upon Tom and Iris’ arrival they were seated on the lawn by the lake for a footbath and massage while the guests socialized and kids played.
It is spring in Switzerland and every flower and tree is in bloom. It is an impossibly intense lushness, emerald green density and bountiful blooms bursting from every possible corner that make our California eyes go ga-ga.
The 40 some guests came prepared for an overnight at Ritterhaus in the dorm rooms which are large open rooms with sleeping platforms with mattress pads and blankets side by side for about twenty people. It was like a camp overnight – very casual.
I had prepared a poem/toast for the bride and groom at dinner based on a poem by Edward Lear which was about Tom and Iris’ travels by bike in Africa where we met them. One important thing I tried to incorporate into the poem was a little Swiss German. It is difficult to pronounce the word for “cheese pie” which is chas-chuechli which is pronounced more like “Hes-Huer-Hlee” but with big emphasis on the H in the back of the throat. That needed practice. So I rhymed ” They dined on Yassa( as in Yassa Poulet a Senegalese dish) but now chas-chuechli in the strasse (street) in Zurich their home sweet home.” I was excited to discover I could rhyme “Yassa” with “Strasse”.
The dinner was outstanding and followed by wedding cake and a buffet of homemade desserts and cheeses not to be believed. I had to sample a bit of each. We danced the night away to a marvelous Klezmer band who played by a crackling fire in the timber and stone dining hall. Iris’ Uncle Peter and I did some energetic swing dancing. I caught my breath dancing romantically with Greg in front of the fire as other couples did likewise.
In the morning after a breakfast of coffee and birchermuseli, cheeses, bread and homemade jams some of us braver guests jumped in the lake for a polar bear swim in the 50 F water. Very Swiss.