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As Gabriel pointed out here, you can learn a lot about a country by studying the customs (seder) and traditions surrounding big moments in life such as child births and weddings (bröllop). I’m not about to either give birth or get hitched, but there are a lot of weddings in the air at the moment. First and foremost, because both Sweden’s princesses are getting married this summer and every magazine/tv-program/radio show in Sweden are already discussing dresses (klänningar), cakes, gifts and guest lists. But also because this is the time of the year when you – if you are lucky – are starting to get invitations this summer’s weddings.
A lot of Swedish weddings are taking place in May-September but the most popular month for weddings are without a doubt August – mainly because of the weather. May is also a big wedding month – but since 2005, when the Swedes lost one of their May public holidays (in order to make our national day in June a public holiday), the number of May weddings dropped dramatically.
In average, 39 000 couples get married in Sweden per year and the number increases steadily every year. During 2008, 50 332 Swedish couples exchanged vows (löften), more than half of those choose a civil ceremony and roughly 400 were gay marriages. In short, weddings are popular up there and what Swede does not like a good party?
If there are 50 000 weddings every year in Sweden, there are also 50 000 ways of doing it. On a cliff, in a church, on a boat, in a hotel, on a castle, with no guests, with 300 guests, with traditions, with a bling bling theme… Anything goes and as with everything, it’s the personal taste, family traditions and the money that decides. But there are a few customs that lots of people sticks to that can be useful – or just fun – to know.
Wedding ceremonies take place in the afternoon and the couple normally walks in together, it’s very rare that the father of the bride gives her away. One bridesmaid (brudtärna) and one best man is the standard. Normally, it’s only the bride (brud) that gets a ring during the ceremony; the groom (brudgum) gets his when the couple get engaged. After the ceremony, the couple are greeted by their family and friends who kindly throws rice (not cooked…) or more common today, blow soap bubbles (a special blend that doesn’t stain…) on the couple. The reception follows straight after the ceremony.
Wedding receptions normally contains of a three course meal or a buffét. It’s rare with a separate day and night reception. If you are invited to a wedding, you are normally invited to the whole shebang. During the dinner, a toastmaster coordinates the speeches – which normally goes on throughout the whole dinner. If you want to hold a speech, you should let the toastmaster know this and he/she makes a list and announces every speaker. It’s custom that the father of the bride holds the first one. The best man and the bridesmaid normally say something as well, but apart from that, anyone that feel compelled can say something, propose a toast, sing a song or just start tapping the glass with your knife. If someone starts doing this, all the guests will soon follow and this means that the newlyweds most kiss. Also, it the bride leaves the room to powder her nose, all the girls can run up to the groom and steal a kiss. Same thing for the boys, when the groom leaves the room. The bride normally keeps her bouquet, Swede’s don’t have a history of throwing it.
Anyway, this is turning into a minor novel, so I better stop. But I reckon there will be time to get back to this subject in a few months time, when there will be nothing but wedding-this and wedding-that talk in Sweden. But in the meantime, please share your customs/thoughts/experiences/takes on bröllop! Thumbs up or a big no no?