Couple Finds Marriage Bliss at 6,000 Feet

by Don Heimburger

Topping Out Wedding Destinations

Wedding “destinations” in the Germanic lands can sometimes be unusual.

Take, for instance, the June 2006 wedding of Swiss-born Hans and Birke Mebold of Rheinfelden, Switzerland.

“Our wedding was something special,” says Birke. “All this talk about the most beautiful day in your life…but it really was the case for us. The whole wedding took on a kind of momentum all its own.”

The Meholds first were officially married in a small church called Johanniterkapelle in Rheinfelden, home of Switzerland’s most popular beer, Feldschlosschen, and the town in which the couple both work.

Following the 11 a.m. ceremony, and a small reception, the couple was whisked away on Rheinfelden’s biggest fire truck with its blue lights flashing wildly. Both Feldwebel Hans and Birke are Rheinfelden fire brigade volunteers of 16 years and five years respectively, with Hans head of the town’s traffic regulations and security section.

Where the couple’s fire truck ride ended, their helicopter ride began, to the 2,100-foot-high resort town of Eptingen where  they met a bus full of 50 wedding guests of family and friends.

At Vitznau on Lake Lucerne, the group boarded a specially-reserved Mt. Rigi Railway steam locomotive and two-car cogwheel train consisting of No. 16, an 1923 oil-fired engine,  and the Belle Epoque, a stately parlor car built in 1873 and coach No.10, built in 1871. The crew assigned to the wedding train consisted of a driver, a fireman, a conductor and one hostess dressed in period costumes for each car.

As the steam train ascended up the side of steep 6,000-foot-high Mt. Rigi on a clear, warm spring day, the guests were served refreshments. The train passed quaint farms, pastures filled with grazing sheep and cows, and hiking trails.

At Rigi Kulm, the group was welcomed by the alpine horns of Ruedi Imlig and his brother. Then a second wedding ceremony took place in the small chapel on the top of Rigi.

The wedding steam train for Hans and Birke Weber chugs up Mt. Rigi
Bride Birke Weber steps out of her special railway car at the top of Mt. Rigi; her new husband, Hans, follows.
Train hostess Lucia Weber on the Belle Epoque, an 1873 salon car

The guests then enjoyed dinner and dancing at the Hotel Rigi Kulm. “The scenery at the top was so beautiful and the food was excellent,” says Birke. Afterward, dancing was provided by Gunter Pichler and his GP Music band.

“My great grand aunt had taken us to Mt. Rigi last year, and we were stricken by the incredible view from the top,” says Birke.”When we thought about a location for our wedding, it didn’t take long to decide to go to Mt. Rigi.” She admits the travel arrangements for buses, trains and helicopters were a bit daunting, however.

The happy couple and guests returned from the mountain after midnight on an electric cogwheel train, and later spent their honeymoon in Sweden. If this is what they planned for their wedding day, it sounds like this couple is never going to have a dull moment.

Hans and Birke Mebold, a year after their wedding, stand in front of the Rheinfelden, Switzerland church where they were married before their many relatives and friends. 

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