This summer Jenny and I had the extreme privilege of visiting the country of Sweden to attend my niece’s wedding. There was so much to take in I could hardly sleep at night. As a farm wife and country girl, the land was of great interest to me. I watched carefully to see what crops were grown, what the trees, the gardens and terrain looked like compared to Iowa. I was surprised to find that so much of nature in that “neck of the woods”, the southeastern side, was very common to southwest Iowa.
Wedding traditions are a bit different in their culture, so there was compromise between the bride and groom and their respective families. In Sweden it is tradition that the bride and groom come down the aisle together at the beginning of the ceremony. The bride’s father announced he would be walking his daughter down the aisle. And I cried. Just take a look at this church!
This quaint little church is supposedly the oldest Christian church in Sweden. I was told it was brought into the city of Lund (Looond) from the north. The officiant began the ceremony by proclaiming wedding couples have gotten married in this church since the 1500’s. Now that is something to talk about! The hand paintings from ceiling to floor were so beautiful and the old organ still works. I cried when we sang the old, old well known hymns together. One hymn was sung in Swedish. A familiar hymn to us, yet the different language once again caused the tears to roll. And I cried when we listened to God’s word read and proclaimed in this little church, so far away from home. I felt God’s presence and I marveled at His continued work in my family. The blessings continue to abound.
In the above picture, the first toast of the evening was in front of this beautiful fountain. Father of the groom gave the toast, then sounded his whistle for us all to stroll into the main reception hall. Yes, a whistle, which we heard several times throughout the wedding. 🙂
Another Swedish tradition at the reception is for the seating arrangements to be mixed, i.e. bride’s guest or family member to be seated next to the groom’s family member or guest. Hence, this auntie was seated next to the groom’s father to the left of me and the groom’s auntie to the right of me. I became friends that evening with two lovely people. Nils and Ingla. I’m Facebook friends with Ingla. Isn’t that a pretty name?? It was so enjoyable to talk to Ingla throughout the evening about her life, her culture, Swedish traditions and her interests. We are both avid gardeners and had so much in common. I think Americans should incorporate this seating style into our customs! I really do!
The TOASTS! The toasts are a very large part of the reception and meal. In this case there were two toastmasters. It is rather expected of the wedding party, close friends, relatives and parents to toast the bride and groom. Then, the floor is open to give a toast to anyone who would like, however; you must give your name and how you are connected before being announced and introduced by the toastmasters. Rather than all toasts being right at the beginning of the meal, the toasts are interspersed within the five-course meal. This beautiful and elegant meal began around 7 and ended around 11! Long, I know, yet we enjoyed every minute of it and felt we knew so many people by the end of the dinner. It truly felt like one big happy family.
Our American family and friends were given a little tutorial in the “cheers” part of the toast. In Sweden when a toast is given and it is time for “cheers” there is no clinking of glasses, but a pause as you hold up your glass and look your neighbor in the eye to your left and right and across the table, respectfully and solemnly and chant “Skole.”
The Viennese Waltz is also tradition. The bride and groom were coerced into taking a little dance class before the wedding so they could begin the beautiful tradition of waltzing. They were called to the dance floor, waltzed for a few minutes alone, looking like pros, then invited all to join them for a long, perhaps ten to fifteen minutes of waltzing. It was truly enchanting! A Cinderella moment!
Many of the traditions were identical to ours. The cutting of the cake and shared bites together. And, yes, the cake was delicious.
We packed in a lot on our trip. Hopefully I can share more highlights in the near future.
This family wedding was the HIGHLIGHT of all !
Rejoice in the Lord always! And again I say rejoice!