An American Swedish Wedding

When we got engaged I wanted to make sure that both Mr. H and I were happy with our wedding and that we each were represented culturally.

So I inquired with Mr. H on what Swedish traditions he wanted to include, well he had been to one wedding in his life which was his parents at age 2 and he obviously did not remember a thing about it and the Swedish wedding traditions had never really interested him.

Also at the time of our engagement in 2009 and even still wedding culture in Sweden is nothing like it is in the States. While people do have big weddings or small weddings the whole subculture surrounding them is small and it is not uncommon or looked down upon to live with your partner for years before getting married or never getting married at all.

There is a word in Swedish, sambo, that describes a person in a long term steady relationship. I will not go into it in more detail now but for our age it is a very common thing and most people Mr. H’ meets are surprised that he is already married let alone for three years at 28.

Ok back to our wedding!

When I pressed Mr. H more about his ideas for our wedding it turned out that most his ideas were based of American movies and TV shows, chiefly Friends, and so that was the direction we were heading with the planning.

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When I was growing up there was a really cute little white church by my grandparents house and I thought it would make the cutest little place to get married. Now this is really naive but I never really thought about what denomination it was until I emailed them about their wedding services. As it turned out it is an Anglican church and they were open to marriages of different faiths but wanted baptismal certificates from us to decide.

Now it would have been easy to get mine as I was baptized down the street from there at a Catholic church but Mr. H was baptized in Sweden and we were a bit flummoxed on what to do. This is when we headed to Google and found out there was a Church of Sweden close to us in San Pedro!

At that point we switched gears and contacted them regarding wedding services. Their vicar invited us to attend a service and then meet with him after. It was really surreal as we were in Los Angeles County and at a church service that was 100% in Swedish.

After the requisite fika post service we met with the vicar and realized he was from a neighboring town to the one Mr. H grew up in actually knew my future grandfather in law! When we learned that we figured there was no way we could go somewhere else and set the date for the wedding.

What was great was that the vicar was able to help us with what a Swedish wedding normally has and guide is in a good mix of traditions. The service was half English half Swedish which was really nice as it really felt a joining of our families and lives.

Some of the particulars for the service we also added were:

Walking up to the altar together – In a Swedish wedding the bride and groom usually enter and walk down the aisle together. What we did was have my dad walk me part way down and then Mr. H came and met us and we walked the rest of the way together.

No set first kiss – In the Church of Sweden ceremony the vicar does not usually say “you may now kiss the bride” so the vicar said we could just kiss whenever we felt like it and how much we wanted!

Holding hands during vows – When we said our vows we faced each other and held hands as we said our vows. The vicar said that way it was like we were really marrying each other and not him as it looks otherwise!

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Our reception was lacking a few Swedish traditions though! One was speeches, yes American wedding have speeches but in Sweden there is usually a speechmaster and you let him know ahead of time if you want to do a speech and they can be quite long and anyone can do one! We skipped that though as my father in law specifically said he did not want to talk and my dad was creating like a 40 minute speech so we said whoever wanted to say something could do it at the rehearsal and just focused on food and fun at the reception.

One other thing we skipped was schnapps shots and songs, traditionally at any Swedish holiday/party you will sing certain songs and take a shot at key parts. Neither Mr. H or I are big hard alcohol drinkers and we felt with everyone driving it was best to skip that as well.

Our caterer though is a close personal friend and went out of his way to find herring(sill) and a few other Swedish treats to have as the appetizers which everyone loved even though Mr. H and I never got any since our limo got stuck in traffic due to a bank robbery!

Then there was our cake which I mentioned the other day that was a Swedish one.

If you have any questions on more specific aspects let me know and if I remember I will answer!

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12 thoughts on “An American Swedish Wedding

  1. I love how you incorporated both traditions! What a small world it is that the Swedish Church close to you ended up having a distant relationship to Mr H’s family! And I wish English had a term similar to sambo. It would help make life easier to classify at times for people who live with their partners and feel childish saying “boyfriend” etc.

  2. It’s funny trying to follow traditions when they belong to a collective culture and not oneself – it’s not like you have a wedding every year and so they really aren’t sort of built-in and it’s so frustrating trying to figure them out! So glad you had the pastor to help you out there! :D

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