There’s perhaps nothing more poignant than watching a new family come into being. And there’s perhaps no more significant human experience than finding that special someone and building a life with them. Learn more about Swedish weddings – traditions and trends.
And maybe that’s why, let’s face it, we’re all pretty much suckers for a good wedding. But while love and hope rest at the center of any marriage ceremony, wherever and whenever it may be, wedding traditions, as well as trends, can vary significantly around the globe.
Sweden, for instance, boasts some pretty fascinating wedding customs, both old and new. And whether you’re considering a destination wedding to Europe, planning to inject a bit of international flair into your nuptials, or you simply want to know how people in other parts of the world are getting it done, this article is for you!
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Traditions, Old and New
Sweden is an ancient nation with rich cultural traditions that both reflect the nation’s storied history and its exciting future.
The Bridal Crown
Traditionally, brides in Sweden didn’t wear veils or tiaras but rather a bridal crown made of myrtle leaves to symbolize innocence. This was usually paired with a traditional multi-colored wedding dress quite different from the white wedding dresses so common across Europe and
North America today.
Nowadays, though, many Swedish wedding parties are looking much more like their British and American counterparts, with brides decked out in white gowns and veils and grooms sporting snazzy tuxedos.
The Wedding March
For all its antiquity, Sweden is a pretty progressive country with many modern ideals. And perhaps nowhere is that better reflected than in the bridal procession. You won’t see a father “giving his daughter away” in a Swedish wedding. Oh no, no, no. Instead, the betrothed walked down the aisle to the altar together, as equals.
And, not only this, but many Swedes are now opting for gender-neutral weddings, to reflect the trend of same-sex unions, which have been legally recognized in Sweden for more than two decades. This speaks to a pretty stark difference between Sweden and the US, for instance, where same-sex marriage was only recently recognized under federal law and where it continues to be debated and contested in many states.
For most of us, the highlight of any wedding is that all-important first kiss that seals the deal and makes the union official. But, at a Swedish wedding, it’s not just the happy couple that gets a kiss. In fact, pretty much everyone gets to have a go!
That’s because, at the reception, when the groom leaves the room, all the gents get their own chances to kiss the bride. And same goes for the bride, as all the ladies get to take their turn with the groom when the bride exits! Not only that but the bride and groom each have a bell they can ring to signify they want their guests to line up and give their new spouse some sugar!
Wedding Rings and Precious Coins
Swedes also handle the custom of the wedding ring a bit differently than in the US and UK. Both the intended bride and groom get an engagement ring, but the groom generally removes his before the ceremony so that it can be reused as his wedding band.
The bride, on the other hand, gets both an engagement ring and a separate wedding band, to which she adds a third ring when she becomes a mother. Brides’ rings tend to be more ornate than the grooms’, often featuring large gemstones in contrast to the groom’s traditional gold or silver band.
Another ancient Swedish custom is for brides to place one silver coin given to her by her father in her left shoe and one gold coin from her mother in her right. This symbolizes the continuing bond she shares with her parents, signifying the fact that she will always be protected and provided for.
While Swedish weddings are steeped in tradition, there is also a lot that has changed about modern marriage in Sweden:
Marrying Later in Life
Couples in Sweden today tend to marry later than their peers in the US. Often, they will wait until their mid to late 30s, after they have completed their studies and launched their careers. Many couples have already been living together for several years before they marry, and a large proportion of them already have children, which is considered entirely socially acceptable in this progressive nation.
In the US, on the other hand, while the trend is also toward later marriage, the motivations are often far different. Rather than cohabiting while building careers and having children, as with late marriages in Sweden, in the US, delayed marriage is often a result of the so-called “failure to launch” syndrome, with young adults choosing to remain in the parental home well into young adulthood. This is often attributed to economic uncertainty, significant student debt, and challenges in developing the kind of stable career needed to build and maintain a household.
Not Marrying At All
In Sweden, you don’t necessarily have to be officially married to enjoy many, if not all, of the legal protections of a spouse. Because of this, many Swedes are choosing to go ahead and build their own little nuclear family without going through the ritual of marriage, whether in a formal wedding or a civil ceremony.
Swedish Weddings: Traditions and Trends -The Takeaway
Sweden is a land of beauty, history, and tradition. It is also the land of loving, modern families, whether in the form of traditional marriage, cohabiting partners with children, or same-sex unions.
Swedish Weddings: Traditions and Trends, written exclusively for Daily Scandinavian by Ainsley Lawrence. Ainsley is a freelance writer from the Pacific Northwest. She is interested in better living through technology and education. She is frequently lost in a good book.
Feature image (on top): Nick Karvounis/unsplash