Norwegian Language Blog

How do Norwegians tie the knot? Posted by on May 29, 2009 in Culture, Traditions

Et bryllup.  They have et bryllup (a wedding).  Today Norwegian weddings look very similar to weddings in the U.S. and other European countries.  However, historically, Norwegian weddings were much more ceremonial and traditional. 

First of all, all brides and grooms would wear bunads-traditional Norwegian costumes.  Men wore white silk shirts, dark wool stockings and knickers that came up to the calf, and a matching vest and dark wool topcoat.  Women wore a white silk shirt with either a very intricately woven dark wool dress (with embroidery) or a similar skirt.  Then some added financial and meaningful value was added with silver jewelry (both on her body and on the actually dress) and a gold/silver crown, either passed down through the family or loaned from the local church.  It was thought that when the bride moved her head, the tinkering noise the crown made would ward off evil spirits.  At the reception, the bride was to dance until her crown fell off.

Weddings typically used to last several days.  There was of course a church ceremony and then several days of festivities.  The first day was the bride’s day, which included a procession to and from the church, followed by a long night of dinner and drinking.  Typical food at a Norwegian wedding could include smoked salmon with dill and rye bread, herring, potatoes,vodka, and akevitt.  There was and usually still is always a kransekake, a layered almond ring cake with frosting.  Similar to many Christian weddings, the bride and groom get to keep the top of the cake, while the guests enjoy the rest.  The second day was much less formal with family and friends together eating a porridge dinner.  There were many toasts (skål’s) and gifts given this day by the guests.  The third day meant to bid the couple farewell on their journey of marriage. 

On the morning after all the festivities, it was common for the groom to give the bride a morgengave (literally morning gift), which was supposed to be valuable enough that the bride could sell it to support herself for many years if something happened to the groom. 

Today, Norwegian weddings share some similarities with Norwegian weddings of the past, but they look much more similar to typical American weddings.  The groom usually wears a black tux and the bride a white gown.  There are many couples who choose not to be married in a church.  It’s quite common for a couple to have their own children in the wedding.  There are simply many more types of families today and Norway being the extremely liberal country that it is, one will find that it is more and more common for couples to not even get married, but live together and have children.  I will write more about this trend in a later post, but I wanted to give you all an idea of what Norwegian weddings were like historically and how they have changed over the years.�

Oh I did forget one thing.  The fele -the fiddle is still an important part of Norwegian weddings today, as it always was in the past.  In fact, my dad and my stepmother got married a few years ago and they had a very talented and well known fiddle player play at the wedding!

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About the Author: kari

I attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, where I majored in Norwegian and History. During college, I spent almost a year living in Oslo, Norway, where I attended the University of Oslo and completed an internship at the United States Embassy. I have worked for Concordia Language Villages as a pre-K Norwegian teacher and have taught an adult Norwegian language class. Right now, I keep up by writing this Norwegian blog for Transparent Language. Please read and share your thoughts! I will be continuing this blog from my future residence in the Norwegian arctic!


  1. Dee:


    Is divorce as common in Norge as other parts of Europe and the USA? What are attitudes like toward those who get divorced? I just ask because I get the impression that Norway is country that is liberal but traditional at the same time.


  2. Monica:

    I am looking for a Norwegian Wedding Blessing. Is anyone aware of one? Thanks for any help you can give.

  3. Tungsten Rings:

    Norwegians are very romantic, its nice article