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The Scandinavian Bride: A Guide to Wedding Traditions and Customs

If you’re planning a wedding with a Scandinavian theme, you’ll want to know about the traditions and customs associated with Scandinavian weddings. The Scandinavian countries, including Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, have rich cultural practices that are often incorporated into weddings. In this article, we’ll provide you with a guide to the Scandinavian bride, including traditional dress, wedding customs, and other unique aspects of a Scandinavian wedding.

The History of the Scandinavian Bride

Scandinavia, a region located in Northern Europe, has a rich history and culture, including its traditions surrounding marriage and the bride. The Scandinavian bride has evolved over time, influenced by various cultural and historical events. In this article, we will deeply dive into the history of the Scandinavian bride, exploring the customs, traditions, and symbolism behind this cultural icon.

The Viking Era Bride

The Viking era, also known as the Early Middle Ages, was a period that shaped Scandinavian culture, including its wedding traditions. During this era, the bride’s family paid a dowry to the groom as a sign of goodwill, which could consist of land, money, or goods.

Wedding Clothes

The bride and groom wore traditional Viking clothing, which included woolen tunics, trousers, and leather shoes. The bride also wore a headdress, typically a silver or gold circlet with a veil.

Wedding Feast

A wedding feast, called a “blot,” was held after the ceremony, where the bride and groom would sit at the head of the table. The dinner allowed both families to celebrate the union and share food and drink.

The Christian Era Bride

The introduction of Christianity in the Scandinavian region in the Middle Ages led to significant changes in wedding traditions, including the role of the bride and groom.

Traditional Scandinavian Wedding Dress

One of the most distinctive aspects of a Scandinavian wedding is the bride’s traditional dress. In Denmark and Norway, the bride typically wears a white dress with a long train and a veil. In Sweden, the bride often wears a white or cream-colored dress with a high neck and long sleeves paired with a crown or tiara.

Wedding Customs and Traditions

In addition to traditional dress, several other customs and traditions are associated with Scandinavian weddings. One of the most common is the “kransekake,” a tower of almond cakes often served at the wedding reception. The cakes are stacked in a pyramid shape and decorated with flags and other decorations.

Another tradition is the “brudlaup” or “bryllup,” a pre-wedding celebration where the couple and their families gather to eat and drink together. In Norway, the bride and groom also participate in a “bridal procession” where they walk together through the streets to the church.

Unique Aspects of a Scandinavian Wedding

While many aspects of a Scandinavian wedding may seem familiar, there are also several unique customs and traditions. For example, in Sweden, it’s common for the bride and groom to exchange three rings during the wedding ceremony: an engagement ring, a wedding ring, and an “eternity” ring.

In Denmark, it’s traditional for the bride and groom to cut the first slice of cake together using a special knife. The knife is then passed down through the generations, each couple using it to cut their wedding cake.

Marriage Rates in Scandinavia

According to recent statistics, the marriage rate in Scandinavia is declining. In Norway, for example, the number of marriages has been falling steadily for decades, from a peak of over 23,000 in 1970 to just over 19,000 in 2019. Similarly, Sweden has seen a decline in the number of marriages since the early 1990s, with the marriage rate falling from 6.1 per 1,000 people in 1990 to just 4.4 in 2019.

Factors Influencing Marriage Rates

So, what’s behind this decline in marriage rates? There are many factors that could be at play.

Delayed Marriage

One possible explanation for the declining marriage rates among Scandinavian girls is that they are delaying marriage until later in life. As education and career opportunities have expanded for women in Scandinavia, many may be choosing to prioritize those aspects of their lives before getting married.


Another factor contributing to the decline in marriage rates is the increasing popularity of cohabitation. In Scandinavia, it is becoming more common for couples to live together and start families without getting married. In some countries like Sweden and Norway, cohabitation is more common than marriage.

Gender Equality

Gender equality is a hallmark of Scandinavian society, and this value may influence young women’s marriage decisions. With more significant opportunities and freedoms available to women in Scandinavia, some may feel less pressure to get married and instead choose to focus on other aspects of their lives.

Regional Variations

It’s also worth noting that there can be significant regional variations in marriage rates across Scandinavia. For example, while the overall marriage rate in Sweden has been declining, there are some areas where marriage remains popular. In the province of Gotland, the marriage rate is higher than the national average.


If you’re planning a wedding with a Scandinavian theme, incorporating traditional dress, customs, and traditions can help create a unique and memorable experience. From the bride’s traditional clothing to the “kransekake” and other customs, there are many ways to add a Scandinavian touch to your wedding. With this guide to the Scandinavian bride, you’ll be well on your way to creating a beautiful and authentic Scandinavian wedding.

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