As a born and raised Norwegian today on 17th May I am celebrating Norway’s National Day (along with many other expats around the globe I’m sure). As we’re not in Norway to take part in the festivities (it’s a day for waving flags, dressing like milk maids – check out the photos below – eating as much ice cream you want and show off that national pride) I though I’d put together a little article on how you can inject some Norwegian into your wedding day.
A Norwegian wedding (bryllup) is usually like most Scandinavian things, a simple, elegant and lovely event. Starting off with the wedding dress, let’s take inspiration from Norway’s Crown Princess, Mette-Marit who tied the knot with Crown Prince Haakon Magnus in 2001. Since then the Norwegian Royal family has grown with Princess Ingrid Alexandra – who will one day be Queen – and Prince Sverre Magnus.
Mette-Marit wore an ecru-coloured silk crepe gown with a two-metre long train designed by Ove Harder Finseth and Anna Bratland, with a beautiful yet unusual bridal bouquet worn as a muff. The bouquet, designed by Mette-Marit and Aina Nyberget Kleppe, was made up with rosary vine, Wanda orchids, and hydrangeas, roses in pink and mauve tones, fescue, beads and metal threads. The bride also wore a six-metre long veil of silk tulle fixed on the back of her head, while an antique diamond tiara adorned her head. If you can’t afford to commission a wedding dress, we quite like these romantic creations by Norwegian designer Cecilie Melli.
The Royal Wedding itself took place on a rainy day but as us Norwegians say: “Rain on your wedding day brings good luck.” It’s a nice saying and most Norwegians try to stay positive despite horrible weather. Perhaps it’s because the weather is very unstable and if you can’t look at the bright side you’re in trouble!
When I think of Norway and weddings, the old fairytales spring to mind: an event where nature takes centre stage – snow-capped mountains and fjords; old Stav churches – most modern brides settle for a more common wooden church; traditional national costumes; perhaps a troll or two; and fele music (that’s fiddle for non-Norwegian speakers).
Many grooms will choose to get married in a national folk costume called Bunad, which signifies where in the country you or your ancestors are from. Some brides will also opt for this over a white wedding dress, and you are bound to see one or more of the wedding guests to arrive in this colourful costume. Considering there are around 200 different types of bunads it can become quite a vibrant wedding – and gorgeous photos! Personally I have a blue Nordlandsbunad, which makes me look like a milk maid more than anything else. An outfit of celebration, bunads are also worn on Norway’s Constitution Day, and are adorned with silver and gold that dangle when you move, creating a melodic sound. According to Norwegian tradition bridesmaids wear similar costumes to the bride – but not identical! – to protect her from evil spirits.
For food we have many options. While some opt for a sit-down dinner a popular choice is koldtbord which is a selection of cold and warm nibbles with bread, fruit, prawns, salmon, and various types on meat, herring and whatever you may desire. Check out London’s Scandinavian Kitchen to source Norwegian and other Scandinavian food items.
For wedding cakes many will go with a traditional blotkake (a layered, cream filled sponge cake) – here’s the recipe for one I made earlier! – or a kransekake (an almond wreath cake) which is hard to touch yet soft and chewy – kind of like a macaroon. Some will serve the kransekake with cloudberry cream and decorate it with tiny Norwegian flags. Another name for the cake is Tower Cake, which makes me believe it dates back to the Viking days.
If you’re dreaming about getting married among Norwegian mountains and fjords, go to Bryllupslokaler.com which is the largest Norwegian wedding venue directory. Winter and summer are two VERY different seasons in Norway, so choose wisely when deciding on the time of your wedding; and most importantly have fun and be merry like the modern day Vikings are!!
Gratulerer med dagen Norge!