The Hagerbach Test Gallery (VSH) is a diverse site in the mountain. Here, not only can concrete be tested, a prototype built, fire resistance tested, and sharp shooting carried out. The tunnel is also a place of great feelings and emotions. When a wedding is about to take place, the halls and caverns are polished to a high gloss and the only thing that causes noise is the clinking of glasses, the laughter of the satisfied guests and the booming of the bass during a long party night.
We talked to Jan Barth, Director Gastronomy & Events, about underground weddings.
Since when can you get married at the VSH, where did the idea come from and how often do marriages take place at the VSH?
The gallery started operating in 1970. Nine years later, a workshop was converted into a company canteen. Looking through old photos I found a wedding ceremony from the 80s. I don't know if couples already said yes to each other in the gallery, but I can imagine that the celebration was original and unique.
So there were sporadically over the years wedding celebrations with or without ceremony. When I started my work in the Hagerbach Test Gallery in 2016, we happened to have four weddings in a very short period of time. I wondered whether this was always the case. But I was assured that this accumulation was a coincidence.
But I saw the potential and did not want to leave this business to chance. I set out to take beautiful photos and spread the word that unique weddings can be celebrated in the tunnel. This bore fruit, and now we have 10 to 15 weddings per year in the gallery, some including the ceremony.
What makes a wedding at VSH so attractive?
Today, in particular younger couples like to look for an unusual and individually tailored event location. We are right on trend.
How should one imagine a wedding at VSH?
A wedding with us is as individual as the wedding couple itself. There are countless possibilities: Aperitifs in the open air in front of the gallery, beautifully illuminated ceremonies in the depths of the mountain, sealing the yes-word by a live blasting, gallery train ride for the guests or fine food in our restaurant followed by exuberant dancing and bar operation without disturbing anyone.
What was the craziest wedding you ever had?
What is really crazy? Many people could never imagine getting married here in the tunnel, think it's crazy and when you're here as a guest, you can't help but be amazed when the event cavern is beautifully decorated and illuminated. At the last wedding a music system was set up for the party after dinner, which had such a heavy bass that the glasses from the rack almost burst.
I also thought it was a little bit crazy, but the dancers and the wedding couple thought it was quite normal. So crazy is relative, but there are always special moments during a wedding that I remember very well. For example, we had a wedding ceremony where I was allowed to drive the bridal couple to the yes-word with the tunnel train. The ceremony was rounded off with a video, which was projected onto the tunnel wall in the background. The video was a gift from the wedding guests with congratulations to the happy couple. The emotions were great.
Wedding cakes that were already so sloping on arrival that they threatened to tip over, bridal couples flying in by helicopter and the flight being broadcast live to the guests during the aperitif, a 12-hour wedding aperitif where the guests never got to sit down, a wedding where the bridal couple wanted fewer seats than the number of guests invited, balloons that had been inflated the day before and were just lying on the ground on the important day: We have already experienced some interesting moments and I am sure it will remain exciting.
How important are weddings for the VSH?
Weddings have become an important additional source of income for the Gastronomy & Events division, but also for VSH as a whole. Furthermore, the many positive emotions that arise from weddings are very important for our team. Sometimes it takes moments like this to realize that all the work we do here has a purpose far beyond financial matters.
Would you marry at the VSH and if so, why?
Yes of course! If I marry a second time, then necessarily in the tunnel. A great experience for everyone, with unforgettable moments, regardless of the weather, with good food, unique atmosphere, friendly staff. Furthermore, our gallery is one of the few places where you can really celebrate undisturbed without having to turn down the music at 10 p.m. already, because the guests who want to sleep in the hotel above the hall are complaining.
The Test Gallery as a wedding location