Norwegian weddings today look similar to those of the U.S. and other European countries. The typical bride wears a long white dress and her groom will have on a black tuxedo. Of course, there are still brides who wear their bunads! Weddings happen both in the church and in a civil ceremony at the city hall. The majority of weddings in Norway are much smaller in size compared to American weddings. The bride and groom will invite those family and friends that are closest to them. Children are generally not invited unless, of course, the children belong to the bride or groom.
At a traditional Norwegian Wedding Procession, the fiddle players led the way with the bride and groom close behind. Everyone had to make sure they would be in the right place in the procession. After the bride and groom followed their parents, bridesmaids, ring bearer, flower girls and the eager guests came last. In some places the men always rode in front of the women. The bride would always have the best horse – usually a light colored horse.
Not everyone rode to church. The wedding party could also be on foot, be driven in a carriage or a ferried in a boat. No matter the form of transportation, everyone had to make sure he processed in the correct order. Instead of several bridesmaids and groomsmen as here in the U.S., there will only be one attendant standing on each side of the bride and groom and a flower girl and ring bearer if the couple chooses.
Dinner & Toasts
After the ceremony, a sit-down dinner will follow. The courses can be served to each guest or it may be a smørgåsbord or koldtbord (cold table) where guests can help themselves. Dinners usually last several hours because of the addition of toasts and songs to the bride and groom. This is a wonderful and personal part of the wedding day that is full of both tears and laughter.
The toastmaster will introduce each person who wants to speak. The order of toasts may go as follows: father of the bride, the groom, the bride, maid of honor, bestman, groom’s father, bride’s mother, groom’s mother, grandparents/godparents, friends, and finally the “Thank You for the Meal” speech.
Following dinner, the wedding cake may be cut and the guests can help themselves to the variety of cakes and coffee and an after-dinner drink. In Norway, the bride and groom can ask friends and family to supply supplemental cakes for the cake table. Bløtkake (soft cake), Kransekake, almond cake, cheesecake, and chocolate cakes are among the many and delicious.
The dance will be next on the list with the bride and groom kicking it off. There will be another chance to eat again later once everyone has danced away dinner. The nattmat (night food) menu is much simpler and could consist of sausages, soup with bread, or sandwiches. This way the guests won’t go away hungry in the wee hours of morning.
The gift would traditionally be a Sølje Crown Brooch, but today the choices could be any kind of jewelry, a watch, a trip, or something for their new home. Today it is also common for the bride to give a morgengave to her groom.