One of my students, who has been to numerous Swedish weddings, has written this brilliant (and, of course, subjective) reflection on Swedish vs British weddings, which she has kindly agreed for me to share. Pictures (apart from last one) by http://www.evaberonius.se
Swedish vs. British Weddings
In the UK: A church ceremony typically lasts up to an hour and includes several hymns, the vows, the exchange of rings, signing the register, a sermon from the priest, several readings from the bible (or perhaps a poem or two), and procession from the church. The bride walks down the aisle with her Dad, with a few bridesmaids following after. Only once they’re married do the bride and groom walk back out of the church together.
Best bit: when the priest says “you may now kiss the bride”, everyone claps and cheers
In Sweden: A church ceremony is usually only 25-30 minutes and includes songs, a soloist singing a song to the couple, the vows, exchange of rings, and procession from the church. Unlike in the UK, the bride and groom walk down the aisle together at both the beginning and end of the ceremony, and there aren’t usually any bridesmaids.
Best bit: the soloist, particularly if they sing anything by Beyonce
Who wins? The UK
After the ceremony
In the UK: Everyone congregates outside the church and throws confetti over the happy couple! OK, it’s more likely that we huddle inside the church because it’s raining outside. But this does give us an opportunity to talk about the ceremony and (hopefully) give a hug to the bride and groom.
Best bit: whenever it’s not raining
In Sweden: Everyone congregates outside the church and throws confetti over the happy couple. Then we get into a long queue to hug and say a few words to the bride and groom (this is compulsory).
Best bit: hugging and kissing!
Who wins? Both traditions are essentially the same, so it’s a tie.
In the UK: We sit down for a civilized three-course meal. At some point (usually during or just after dessert), we have three speeches: the father of the bride, the best man and the groom. Although it’s not forbidden for other people to make speeches, in reality, no one else ever does. The meal is usually over in around 1.5 hours, but that’s only if the speeches don’t drag on for an hour…
Best bit: you can eat your food uninterrupted (this will make sense shortly)
In Sweden: Wow… where to start. First of all, you can forget sitting down to a meal for a mere 1.5 hours. Oh no. We have 10 or 12 speeches to get through! So plan to sit down for at least four hours and probably five. Those speeches will include the three in the British tradition, but also friends, other relatives, the men’s stags, the bride’s hens… (yes, women can make speeches too!). However, the good news is that all these speeches are relatively short and (usually) very funny. Especially the stags. But why stop there? We also sing songs and sometimes we play games, too.
Best bit: when the bride leaves the room (a toilet break is essential during a marathon reception meal), all the women in the room usually run up to the groom and kiss him on the cheek. Ditto for the men who must kiss the bride when the groom leaves the room.
Who wins? Let’s face it, Sweden wins this one hands down.
In the UK: After the reception meal, we start the real purpose of the night: drinking. Having a certain amount of alcohol in us is essential for us to be able to dance. And then we rock the dancefloor until… ooh, maybe 11pm or midnight. Yeah!
Best bit: The drinking. Obviously.
In Sweden: Now, this would be near-identical, were it not for the fact that we’ve just been sitting down eating and drinking for FIVE HOURS. So we are pretty drunk already. Yes, we hit the bar, but we get on the dancefloor pretty quickly. And then we dance to a combination of euro-pop, swedish pop (ABBA, the song that won Eurovision a few years ago, etc), Swedish folk songs, and a few global chart-toppers until 2 or 3am.
Best bit: ABBA. Obviously.
Who wins? The UK for the music, Sweden for the late-night finish.