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Wednesday, 09 May 2007

Svenska Brolopp (Swedish Wedding)

By Alexandra Grabbe of By Bea’s Bedside and Wellfleet Chezsven

In 1997, I married Sven Rudstrom in Stromstad, Sweden. I didn't expect our wedding to be special. After all, we had both been married before and second marriages seemed rather anticlimactic. Was I ever wrong! That day was one of the most amazing in my life.

Our wedding day dawned misty and overcast. After breakfast, a group of us drove out to an ecological farm. Nasturtiums, sweet peas, bachelor's buttons, baby's breath, sunflowers soon crowded our baskets. While there, a few drops of rain fell onto my head. “Not to worry,” the farmer said. “Old Swedish saying: rain brings wedded couple good fortune.”

That afternoon we decorated the blue-columned porch of Sven's home, high above the Oslo fiord. White balloons soon hung from the rafters. Wildflowers edged the doors. There were to be six tables and each was to have a different flower arrangement.

I gave Sven his weekly Bruce-Willis haircut while my children drew up lists of who would sit next to whom. This activity proved rather tricky. Guests were coming from half a dozen countries. Did so-and-so speak French? Which Swedes should be seated together? Who would join us at the table of honor?

Finally everything was ready. I slipped into my thrift-shop gown and suddenly was a bride again. Sven gasped, “You look beautiful!” He was wearing a black silk shirt and, of all things, cowboy boots. Click, click, click went the cameras as the sun came out from behind a cloud.

“Off we go!” my son said.

He got us to the church on time. Sven took my arm. Mendelssohn's wedding march rang out as we strode down the aisle. Familiar faces returned our smiles.

The flower girl, from France, followed us to the altar. She stood there throughout the ceremony, from time to time giving my train a good shake, to ward off boredom.

Outside, rice flew from all directions. Then everyone wanted to hug us at once. Tourists stopped to take pictures of what they assumed must be a very Swedish wedding indeed: the flower girl was wearing the national colors, blue and yellow!

Back at Sven’s house, my new husband welcomed guests as is the Swedish custom: “Now that we're married, please join us in celebration. Our toastmaster, Jonas, has an announcement to make…”

One of Sven's stepsons then said, “Please tell me your intentions so I can schedule the toasts.” This "entertainment" feature of Swedish weddings, totally new to American guests, turned out to be great fun.

After the first course, Jonas clicked his glass to get attention and introduced Sven's high school buddy who congratulated me on having bagged his friend. The witty toast lasted ten minutes, including the song traditional to Sven's home province. Finally Lars invited the other guests to join him in a cheer: “Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!”

My daughter stood up and announced she would give a toast in Swedish. What a surprise! Unbeknownst to us, she had been learning the language during her senior year at Brown.

The meal resumed and, after a while, Jonas clicked a third time to introduce Sven's colleagues from the international school where we met. They held glasses of milk. The gist of their toast was that Sven always skipped out of teachers' meetings early supposedly to buy milk, but they now understood he just wanted to get home to me.

By dessert, my son had decided to adapt to local custom. Paul began with a joke about wanting the toastmaster's job at his next Swedish wedding because all Jonas had to do was introduce people. Then Paul said how much love he had experienced as a child. My son added he had enjoyed getting to know Sven: what Paul appreciated was that Sven let him be himself.

How moving it all was! I found myself wondering who would speak next. The moon rose full. Candles flickered. Guests strolled from table to table. Jonas drew their attention by clicking his spoon one last time: “I’d like to introduce the Rudstrom brothers.”

Behind me stood my new stepsons. Their toast was a gag. They listed their father's attributes, then thanked me for my influence in making him that way.

The word "love" was repeated all evening long. Being bathed in such an atmosphere was a wonderful experience. I will always think back on my second wedding with emotion and nostalgia. It was a great way to begin a life together.

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:27 AM | Permalink | Email this post


What a delightful story. I felt as though I was a guest there with you as your words were so descriptive.

I loved observing your wedding!

I would like to see a video of your "special wedding" but your realistic description is almost the real thing.

Oh thank you so much Ronnie for sharing this story... I lived in Sweden in my youth and still have many Svenska friends. This story captured so well the wonderful culture of the Swedish people.

Oh, how absolutly magic.

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