I thought European trains were more efficient than British trains – then I almost missed my wedding

We will take the train, he said. It will be romantic, he said. It’s better for the planet, he said. Mike’s points were good, so I was on board quickly.

We went to Copenhagen – the Las Vegas of Europe – to get married.

Why Copenhagen? Canada Mike, I’m British-German, we live in Berlin and the capital of Denmark is one of the most bureaucratic places to be in Europe. Many international couples like us are doing it.

Our plan was to make it a special weekend, not only to get legally married but also to enjoy some time just the two of us, ahead of our bigger wedding celebrations with family and friends later in the summer.

There was something romantic about taking the train. What could possibly go wrong?

We factored in plenty of time – the wedding ceremony was at 11.10am on Saturday (18th May) and we started what we thought was a simple journey. The train was scheduled to leave Berlin Hauptbahnhof at 12.38pm on Thursday which would bring us (via Hamburg) into Copenhagen at 7.34pm – just in time for dinner. We were asked to bring in our documents on Friday to keep the 10 minute wedding slots on Saturday on schedule.

Writer Charlotte on the train

Writer Charlotte Bridge decided to take a train from Berlin to her wedding in Copenhagen

We had just settled into our window seats when we heard the announcement that “train tracks were overheated” due to recent hot temperatures – so we would be taking another route to Hamburg. This would cause an hour’s delay, which would mean we would have missed our 2.53pm connection to Copenhagen. Not the most romantic start.

No matter, there was a later train from Hamburg at 4.55pm. Or it was meant to be. We waited on the platform as departure time came and went. When it was quite clear that the train was not coming (despite the fact that she was still on the departure board), the hum of voices rose on the crowded platform. Clearly there was an issue.

We became impatient and confused and we all cornered a Deutsche Bahn employee who informed us that “a tree had fallen on the track” and that the train to Copenhagen had been cancelled.

We then joined a sea of ​​people outside the Deutsche Bahn office where rumors of a replacement bus or taxi to Denmark were spreading. At this point I felt my first real panic that we could really miss our wedding.

There was impatience and confusion among the crowds of disgruntled passengersThere was impatience and confusion among the crowds of disgruntled passengers

There was impatience and confusion among the crowds of disgruntled passengers

A man with a megaphone was pushing out numbers and we were told to listen to us to signal our taxi. I tried not to think about the 55 minute flight we chose not to book from Berlin.

Eventually our number was called and we got into a taxi with a couple who had traveled from Paris that morning. Our driver let out a gasp at the destination – “Dänemark”! Mike spent the €560 (£475) voucher he received from Deutsche Bahn. We were one of 30 taxis that went to Denmark. It was definitely not a cheap solution.

But we were on the move again and the three hour drive to the Danish town of Fredericia meant beautiful sunsets and renewed hope. As promised, there was a 10.53pm train to Copenhagen, waiting at the station. I finally started to relax and thought I might make it. Where credit is due, Deutsche Bahn managed to save the day, as we got to Copenhagen around 2am the day before our wedding.


Writer Charlotte Bridge is preparing to take the night train to Copenhagen

We awoke to glorious sunshine and all was quickly forgiven and forgotten, especially when we arrived at Copenhagen City Hall, which, draped in Danish flags, looked magnificent. The ceremony was short but perfect. We did it – and we were now married, especially grateful after the drama. The registrar mentioned a few no-shows that morning – I couldn’t help but wonder if they were traveling with Deutsche Bahn.

Charlotte and Mike's newlyweds at Copenhagen City HallCharlotte and Mike's newlyweds at Copenhagen City Hall

Charlotte and Mike’s newlyweds at Copenhagen City Hall

We were ready for our honeymoon – in the wonderful city of Copenhagen (rich with delicious menus and plenty of pastries) and then into Sweden where we enjoyed early season kayak trips around the Koster Islands and marveling at those Nordic sunsets end.

The troubles of getting here were almost gone and we felt that we were being rewarded for our turbulent start. But it was time to go back to Berlin. And what could be nicer than the overnight train from Sweden?

The couple enjoyed early season kayak trips around Sweden's Koster IslandsThe couple enjoyed early season kayak trips around Sweden's Koster Islands

The couple enjoyed early season kayak trips around Sweden’s Koster Islands

​​​​​​I got a bad feeling when there was no platform number on the board at Malmö station. Our departure time came and went, 10.25pm. Not again, definitely. But yes, our train was indeed cancelled.

The best Snälltåget could offer was accommodation in another sleeper train that would stay in the station overnight and then (possibly) a bus to Berlin the next day.

I may be getting old, but it was at that point that I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands. We booked a hotel for the night and flights from Copenhagen to Berlin the next day. This was my honeymoon after all.

Snälltåget later informed us that an electrical fault prevented the train from leaving. We submitted our receipts and were promised compensation of up to 1,500 DK (£170) per person. We are still waiting on this.

The following evening our Norwegian Air Shuttle flight brought us into Berlin five minutes early – it was good to be back.

I love traveling by train when it works but unfortunately the days of efficiency and punctuality on Deutsche Bahn are long gone and there is work to be done to get things back on track.

One thing I would say is this: wherever you travel, you will face challenges so choose wisely who you share life’s adventures with. I was lucky to come back from this trip with a husband. And we still talk to each other…

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