Friday, August 21, 2009

Love is in the air and on a chair?

Express Staff Writer

Ah summertime, a season full of hammering singletrack, drinking beer on the lake, sitting in the grass listening to live music. That is, unless, you happen to be between the ages of 25 and 35, in which case, most free moments are spent traveling to and from the nuptial ceremonies of friends who believe the love they share is greater than that which you share with your dirt bike.

I'm kidding of course, as everyone knows there is no greater love than that of a dirt bike, but still weddings do have the benefit of being a fantastic opportunity to venture away from the Wood River Valley.

Whether at a sun-drenched vineyard in California or a beauteous peninsula on Cape Cod, the expression of devotion and commitment is a joy to witness, an honor to be part of and, most importantly, the perfect excuse to imbibe enough champagne to precipitate profound thoughts in idyllic surroundings.

And it's hard to get more idyllic than the Duns Castle.

Located just 50 miles south of Edinburgh, Scotland, the medieval castle made for the perfect setting of a Norwegian wedding. Yes, you read that right, Norwegian.

Built around a 14th-century tower, the structure was completed to its current Gothic Revival form in the early 1800s. The sprawling, manicured lawns, which once played host to a scene from the Scottish Civil War and uprising against King Charles I in 1639, was again the setting of a fierce battle, this time a heated game of barefoot soccer.

While the pre-wedding soccer game was spontaneous, rather than part of some bizarre Norwegian ritual, there were still plenty of unfamiliar traditions, both bemusing and entertaining, to someone used to the structure of an American wedding.

Whereas we here in the U.S. are used to a speech or two, from the best man and father of the bride at the very least, I was unprepared for a near continuous stream of guests standing up to toast and praise the newlyweds. Of course, being that all but one of the speeches was in Norwegian, they could have very well been cursing an unholy union, but if that was indeed the case, it was at least being done in a humorous manner, judging by the accompanying laughter.

(A word of advice: If you every find yourself at a wedding peopled by non-English speakers, try to refrain from asking the person next to you to translate every word of every speech. Your neighbors will find you quite annoying.)

But while speaking in their native tongue can't exactly be counted as exotic, the Norwegians definitely brought along enough traditions to make up for the fact that they were being wed in Scotland and nary a kilt was to be seen.

Although some of these were to be tolerated, as with the aforementioned litany of speeches, others made me wonder why we in the U.S. haven't yet jumped on the bandwagon, like Florida residents during a Tampa Bay Rays pennant run.

Most notable, and humorously confounding, was the response to the silverware clinking the side of crystal wine glasses. Since the practice is not uncommon to American weddings, I fully expected the clinking of silverware and crystal wineglasses to precede yet another speech, but received a surprise when this impelled the groom and bride, the latter still adorned in a long white gown, to stand on their chairs and reenact their first kiss.

As the night wore on there was an inversely proportional relationship between the rapidity with which wineglasses were filled and emptied, and the time between requested embraces. Not necessarily the wisest action when the newlyweds are also drinking to every toast and repeatedly having to clamber atop wobbly, century-old furniture.

So, when I finally force my friends and family to forgo their holiday plans to watch me sweat through my tuxedo, I hope my bride isn't wearing heels and we are provided with sturdy chairs.

Jon Duval is a staff writer for the Idaho Mountain Express

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