Swedish Wedding Traditions: Cultural and Romantic Peculiarities
Weddings offer us an exciting opportunity to develop a more profound understanding and appreciation of a culture. Although the Swedes have come a long way from the historically institutional view of marriage, the wedding traditions in Sweden that have been passed down through generations are extremely unique and endearing.
Dress and Aesthetics
The Wealth Blessing
This is arguably the dearest of Swedish wedding customs. Prior to the bride’s departure to the wedding ceremony, her father presents her with a silver coin which she wears in her left shoe, while she wears a gold coin from her mother in her right shoe This very sweet gesture from her family symbolizes that she will never go without.
In Sweden, most women these days wear a tiara or a veil at their wedding. However, when abiding by older tradition, Swedish brides wear crowns weaved from myrtle leaves. The crown was conventionally used to signify the bride’s purity and innocence.
Traditionally, the bride carries very strong-smelling flowers to help ward off any evil spirits. Also, sorry girls, but it is not part of Swedish custom for the bride to throw the bouquet!
Dare to Wear Red
Historically, the color red has been associated with lust, seduction, and scandal. Be warned that if you show up to a Swedish wedding in a red outfit, you may experience some suspicious looks — people will assume that you shared a romantic relationship with the bride or groom.
Swedish wedding ring traditions are notably different from those of other Western cultures in that it is custom for both the woman and the man to receive a plain gold engagement ring. However, only the bride receives a second ring at the wedding, and this is the one with a diamond. As if a ring and a wedding band weren’t enough, brides in Sweden also receive the third ring when the couple becomes parents. This is known as the ‘motherhood’ ring.
Swedish Wedding Ceremony Traditions
In general, the Swedish approach to marriage is rather simple. It is not a tradition to appoint several bridesmaids and groomsmen, the couple often chooses one bridesmaid and one best man. Sometimes, they even choose to have none at all!
Walking down the Aisle
Sweden is a nation that prides itself on its practice of equality. Hence, it is unsurprising that it is not supported by the church for the father of the bride to give her away at the wedding ceremony. Instead, it is Swedish custom for the bride and groom to make their way down the aisle together. This highlights that they are equals who are marrying out of choice.
Loudest ‘I Do’
In Swedish wedding tradition, whoever crosses the threshold first wears the pants in the relationship. Some couples make a point to time their steps in unison so that they cross together as equals. Other times, you may see the groom step back and allow his bride to lead the way. Those brides who are more old-fashioned may hang back to allow the groom to cross over, asserting that he is the man of the house. If you’re lucky, the couple may playfully fight to see who can get there first. If by some chance it has not been clearly established who is in charge before the couple stands in front of the altar, there is one final opportunity to settle the score. Whoever manages to muster the loudest “I do” is asserted as head of the household.
Unlike most weddings you may have attended, there are no “plus ones” in Sweden. Invitations are sent out on a personal basis, and only established couples are invited together.
One of the more bizarre traditions is that once the couple has said their vows and share their first kiss as husband and wife, all the men are allowed to kiss the bride if at any point the groom leaves the room. The same rule applies to all the ladies at the wedding, who will line up for their chance to kiss the groom if the bride makes an exit.
Speeches play a huge role at Swedish weddings, and there is normally a long list of gushing guests who want to put their word in for the happy couple. For this reason, the bride and groom appoint a ‘toast-master’ whose sole purpose is to ensure that everyone gets their time and that the reception as a whole runs smoothly.
At the reception, everyone takes part in singing drinking songs. After every song, the guests say “skål” (the Swedish equivalent of “cheers”), at which point it is culturally correct to make eye contact with your fellow drinkers. Songs are accompanied with shots of snaps, a traditional vodka in Scandinavia.
After the Wedding
Morgongåva translates into “morning gift” and is presented by the groom the morning after the wedding. Traditionally it is a piece of jewelry and is gifted to the wife as a means of support in the event that she should outlive her husband.