Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Juliana Wiklund and Swedish Weddings Traditions

The birds are singing; it's February, the month of love; and Spring is around the corner --- do you, too, feel the love in the air? I was recently visiting with Stockholm based photographer, Juliana Wiklund.

I think these wedding photos represent something so very Swedish; and also magically captured the lightness of love, the spirit of the day and the joy in the air. How DO you do that, Juliana?...  I wish I had known her back when we were married, but, thankfully, I've been able to have the joy of her capturing our family through the years! Today, I'm so happy: Juliana accepted my proposal to come by and to share some of her photography with you and her experience with Swedish weddings, too.

Read an interview with Juliana and 10 Swedish wedding traditions below.

All photos courtesy of Juliana Wiklund.

10 Tidbits about Swedish Weddings:

1. An average Swedish wedding is typically 50 people

2. An average Swedish wedding will have about 30 toasts.

3. Crown: Un-common these days, but earlier, the tradition was that the bride would wear a garland of myrtle leaves on her head (the symbol for innocence) and her traditional Swedish wedding folk costume. Each region has it's own folk costume.

4. There's an old Swedish wedding tradition that says that the bride should carry coins in her shoes: One silver coin in her left shoe from her father and one gold coin in her right from her mother. These are to ensure that "she will never go without."

5. Swedish wedding ceremonies usually take place in the afternoon.

6. The wedding couple normally walk themselves down the aisle together.  It's uncommon for the father of the bride gives her away and walk her down the aisle.

7. August is the month with the most weddings but, May - September are popular, too. These earlier Spring months were more popular earlier and coincided with a National Holiday; but, recently this holiday was removed and it has affected the popularity of Spring weddings.

8. Wedding receptions are typically a 3 course meal and immediately follow the ceremony. The toast master is alerted ahead of time of who would like to raise a toast and will prepare a schedule for the night. Did you read earlier an average of 30 speeches are given: yes: 30. The Swedish reputation for being reserved does not exist on this occasion. Speeches are abundant, thoroughly planned and an integral part of the night.

9. The tradition to toss the bouquet of flowers is not a tradition here, but there is a tradition for women to rush to kiss the groom any time the bride leaves the reception!

10 The wedding should be an "upplevelse;" which loosely translated is to have or do; create an experience. A wedding should be an event. I've heard of wedding themes as varied as sky diving, camping in tents for a scavenger hunt type wedding to weddings in traditional locations, such as the local church.

Excerpt of interview with Juliana Wiklund*: Swedish Weddings:
This is what Juliana had to share about her experience here in Sweden:

When I think about weddings in Sweden, I think about love, simplicity and intimacy. A big wedding would be about 100 guests, but most of the weddings I shoot have around 50 guests. 50 guests that really love the couple, that are there sharing their special day because they think the couple is special. Most couples even tell their guests NOT to bring any gifts, they want it to be all about being together and sharing a special moment. So my photography has evolved in all those last 15 years I've been working as a wedding photographer to being all about love, simplicity and intimacy.
And it's all about giving the couples something else to remember on their wedding day. My highest hopes is that they will not remember the pictures but what they did while I was taking the pictures. Every picture will be a reminder of a beautiful moment spent together. A laugh will not only be a laugh, but the reminder of the amazing thing they told each other which led to that laugh.

I guess you've gotten my point. And Swedes are so good in really living up to a moment, that they even have a special word to that: UPPLEVELSE. It's a noun and also a verb, and it means you should "do" what you want to feel. Imagining it doesn't even get close to the deal.

Swedes are "upplevelse"-junkies and so have I proudly become one , too.  From a wedding in the Swedish Archipelago in the bride's childhood countryside home to a ceremony in the Opera House followed by a magnificent dinner in the Museum of Modern Art, all of them are about bounding and sharing moments together. A Swedish reception dinner can have up to 30 speeches where guests tell their stories with the couple that are worth remembering.
*There's much more to say about this creative Brazilian photographer. I will share more of this soon.

Something you might like:
Ice Lanterns: The perfect touch to an winter wedding
Pyramid Gift Boxes: Perfect Engagement or Wedding Gift Boxes


  1. Wow, beautiful! The Birch forest ones are so romantic : )

    1. I'm so glad! Me, too! It almost feels like a Klimtt to me ---- althought very Swedish.

  2. Beautiful post! I love reading about how people go about certain milestones in their lives and wondering whether they'd be more up my alley.

    I'm from South America, where things tend to be more homogeneous than in Europe, though there are differences. Here it goes, 10 things about weddings in Uruguay:

    1. A civil ceremony must be carried out before a religious one (or else the priest/rabbi/conductor of the ceremony goes to jail!). They're usually done a few days earlier and at the civil registry office, but some people pay for the judge to go to the venue and get a setup with flowers and what not.

    2. The father of the bride walks her down the aisle, or any other adult male member of the family (my husband walked his sister, and I've seen uncles, grandparents and even cousins). Once I saw the bridegroom, but never the bride alone.

    2. Couples where the grooms with a last name starting with A to LL marry from 8 to 11.30 am; those starting with M to Z from 2 to 5pm (I think), Monday thru Friday, except Carnival and Easter Week (all public offices are closed). Unless you pay for the judge of peace to come to your place, which can be at almost any time of the day or week.

    3. Average wedding receptions are of 150 to 300 people. 500 people is not all that strange. It is common that parents invite their friends over to their children's wedding, in some cases even business partners. When inviting couples with children it is understood, unless you specify the contrary, that you invite the whole family. In the past decade or so venues in the outskirts of the city, surrounded by nature have become the norm; they (or the couple) often arranges for a bus or drivers' service to get the guests so they don't have to drive (and they can drink!)

    4. Wedding receptions are most usually at night, starting around 10 pm and stretching over to 5 am, but in recent years weddings may start at any time from 12 pm. It's really cool for winter weddings!!!, as winters here are kind of chilly - though nothing by Swedish standards, I've seen more than one Swedish person brrrrr-ing in surprise!

    5. Speeches are very rare, almost non existent. It's left up to the priest or judge of peace to be inspired and get it on.

  3. 6. After the religious ceremony (Catholic more often than not) guests arrive to the venue first. The couple may get somewhere to get photos done, or they simply arrive later. The reception officially starts when the bride and groom dance a waltz, usually the Blue Danube. After the first few minutes of dance, the father of the groom and the mother of the bride ask the bride and groom respectively to dance, then other family members and then friends, and finally the bride and groom dance together again to the sound of the grand finale (this is why the DJ must be watching!).

    7. Bride gowns are invariably white or of a very light hue, usually made from scratch by a couturiere. The groom may wear black or light according to the time of the day and the year, and their preferences. Grooms usually rent their suits along with, and to match, the other important male guests (fathers of the couple, brothers, etc).

    8. A typical wedding reception has a continuous flow of snacks, drinks (whisky, champagne, soda and water, and lately regular and non-alcoholic beer are becoming common), a two course meal and a large table of desserts at the end of the night. Cutting the wedding cake used to be a big deal, but it hasn't been so in the past decade or so (there isn't even a wedding cake anymore, but a slew of cakes and you can try them all!)

    9. Party favors were big during the 80's and 90's, but I haven't seen them in the past 15 years or so.

    10. In the past guests would bring their presents to the wedding; these days most stores have a free delivery service and they send the gift right the day after you bought it (unless you specify the opposite and they keep everything for you, and you have to book a day to decide what you keep and what you change). As invitations are usually mailed or delivered with 3 weeks in advance, this means there's a flow of stuff coming through your door for days. Unfortunately thank you notes are not common and most people never acknowledge getting your gift, and this is why stores usually call you to let you know when they delivered the gift.

    By the way, I emailed "thank you" to everyone who came and sent a gift, except those I thanked in person.

    There used to be a tradition of sneaking out the wedding reception and going right to your honeymoon, but that doesn't happen anymore. The couple say goodbye to everyone and leaves the last ones or so, and then they head for the honeymoon trip the next day or a few days later.

    Well...I've been long about this! Sorry!

    1. What a pleasure to get this information! I am so pleased. Thank you.

  4. Thank you! Thank you! This was an incredibly inspiring blog post. My Swedish future-husband and I will get married this summer in the states and we want to include Swedish traditions in the ceremony. Beautiful photos as well!

  5. Thank you! Thank you! This post was both inspiring and helpful. My future husband is Swedish but we live in France and I'm American. We are braiding together traditions from the three cultures for our US wedding and this post was immensely helpful for me as I've only been to one Swedish/American wedding.

    1. Oh, what fun! I'm so happy that you found this and that you shared your story. I hope you have a wonderful, wonderful day! We had two "weddings" - our first in the US and our second "benediction" celebration in France. It's amazing how similar almost all western cultures are but, that it's the details where the difference lie. I think the combination of your worlds sounds just lovely! Congratulations -- wishes for joy.

      I'm going to do more wedding this Spring. Is there anything special that you're looking for?


Thank you!