If you have been to a Czech wedding any time in the last few decades, you are probably familiar with the classic format: the same bleak communist-era town hall with an uninterested official repeating the same old clichés, the same Wedding March, and even the exact same menu in a local restaurant afterwards. But just as so many other things have changed in Czech society in recent years, Czechs weddings, too, are becoming a whole different affair.
The Czech Republic, especially the capital Prague, has become a popular wedding destination for foreign couples - used to spending large amounts of money on their nuptials - who use the services of local wedding agencies. In recent years, however, more and more Czechs have been turning to professional wedding planners to be able to enjoy their special day and leave all the practical worries to someone else. Petra Hofman from Prague-based White Agency agrees.
"I can confirm that there is such a trend. Influenced from abroad, lately there is such a trend that weddings are a reflection of the personalities and lifestyle of the engaged couples. They are getting married at an older age, they are financially stabilised and they are paying themselves for the wedding. Therefore they want to have their wedding according to their dreams and wishes. That's why they hire agencies to have it perfectly done. Also, I have to say that Czechs are slowly breaking the barriers from the past that hiring agencies is very expensive. They look at it in a way that agencies help them save money, actually, because they have experience. They can secure the best services. And of course, they save time."
What are the differences in the services demanded by foreign couples and local couples and also how much are Czechs willing to invest in their wedding compared to foreigners?
"Well, I think they are both very demanding clients. It is a special day to have a wedding - once in a lifetime, hopefully. So I would say they are both very demanding. Speaking about the investment, I think there are no differences as such."
Now, can you describe a typical Czech wedding as we have known it from the previous decades compared to one arranged by an agency or compared to a 'modern' Czech wedding?
"Well, Czech weddings in the past were organised by the bride or a close family member. The ceremonies were held early in the morning and then followed by lunch with the immediate family and then later on by a celebration with friends and family. These days Czechs are looking - also influenced from abroad - into weddings that are held in the afternoon. They are followed immediately by a celebration for everybody. Either it is a sit-down dinner or a buffet-style reception. They are also looking into unique places. Gone are the days when Czechs would be looking into ceremonies in the city halls and town halls. Now they prefer unique places, such as gardens or even boats. If it is organised by an agency, I have to say, it is usually running very smoothly, there are no gaps and it is definitely stress-free for the clients."
"Of course, because wedding agencies are very professional and it was the best day in my life. Everything was well-organised - be it flowers or the wedding venue. We found it together, it was so nice in the Old Town Square, and a professional photographer was there. The whole day was so nice!"
Statistics suggest that there are 20,000 fewer weddings a year than ten years ago but still wedding agencies report a growing number of domestic clients - even though Czechs are still quite conservative in this respect. While around one third of all weddings in the Czech Republic are held with the assistance of an agency, in neighbouring Germany it is close to 90 percent.
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