Did you get an invitation to a Finnish wedding this summer? You are not the only one. Since Finns have their summer vacations most often in June, July, or August, this is also the peak season for weddings. In this blog, we’ll go over some etiquette rules you should be aware of when attending a Finnish wedding.
Preparations before the wedding
If you are invited to a wedding, make sure you don’t wear white clothes. White is for the bride only. The invitation might say what the couple expects you to wear. Finnish weddings are rarely extremely formal. Thus most likely you don’t have to come in a long evening gown or white tie.
When your own outfit is settled, you can proceed to buying a present for the bridal couple. It may be a good quality home appliance, or something else needed at home. An experience gift may also be a good idea, if the couple has already lived together for a long time and doesn’t need any household items.
The couple may have a bridal registry set up somewhere. It’s a good idea to pick an item from that list if such a list exists. Some couples may also be saving money for a honeymoon or some larger purchase. So, don’t be surprised if the wedding invitation includes a bank account number for a direct transfer.
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The wedding ceremony
If the bride and groom originate from another city or place than where they currently live, they may have decided to hold their wedding in their home town. So, going to a Finnish wedding may require you to travel somewhere. In that case, the couple often includes information about transportation and accommodation possibilities together with the invitation. Make sure that you make your reservations early especially if the wedding is in a popular summer destination.
While these days less than half of Finnish couples get married in a church, the chances are the ceremony you’ll be attending is in a church. This is because many couples who have gotten married in a civil ceremony still opt for a blessing ceremony in a church.
The actual Lutheran wedding ceremony takes about 20-30 minutes and it includes a few hymns sung together, readings from the Bible, short prayers, a sermon, and obviously the wedding wows themselves.
Most commonly only the bride gets a ring. The groom has to settle for the engagement ring he already has in his finger. The bridal couple will also get a Bible as a gift from the church and you’ll see the groom carry that when they exit the church.
After the ceremony
After the ceremony, the guests often throw rice on the bridal couple when they walk or run the stairs out of the church. The couple and their parents hurry to get to the venue where the festivities continue. The guests will follow them, often offering car drives to one another.
The festive site may be a restaurant, boat club, or any other place which can cater to enough people. The parents and the bridal couple are usually at the door welcoming the guests and receiving congratulations. Sometimes the bridal couple poses for their wedding pictures taken after the ceremony. Thus they are not at the door with their parents greeting you. Near the door, there is often a designated table where the guests leave the presents.
Finnish weddings traditionally include a dinner. It may be a buffet-style dinner or served at the tables.
The speeches will start after the main course. Usually, the father of the bride begins. The groom’s father and the best man follow him with their speeches. Other friends and relatives may speak, too. After the couple has cut the cake and guests have eaten the dessert, the musical part of the festivities starts with the wedding dance. In Finland, it is very commonly a waltz.
Very often weddings in Finland include games in which the wedding couple star. For example, the bride may be “kidnapped” by the grooms’ friends. They may demand the groom to carry out funny tasks before he can get his bride back. The maid of honor and the best man are often in charge of this type of programming.
After the wedding
A few weeks after the wedding the couple will send a card with their wedding picture on it to thank all those people who were present on their wedding day. You may also share your best photos with the bridal couple. They are the only ones who haven’t been able to take pictures during the wedding!
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This post was last edited June 9, 2020.
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