Scandinavian countries have similarities in wedding traditions, but Norwegian weddings have traditions and rituals that are all their own.
If you have Norwegian heritage or want to learn more about Norwegian wedding traditions and rituals, continue reading to learn more about the rings, ceremonies, dresses, and more!
12 Norwegian Wedding Traditions and Rituals
1. The Rings
Like many cultures, Norwegian couples present and exchange rings on their wedding day. The rings range from simple designs to ornate detailing depending on the wants and needs of the bride and groom.
The reason rings are included here is that the rings are worn on the ring finger of the right hand instead of the left hand, as is customary in the United Kingdom and the United States. According to tradition in Norway, the right hand has a connection to the marriage oath. This is why the ring goes on the ring finger of the right hand.
2. Bridal Dress
Modernized Norwegian weddings typically feature bridal gowns, similar to what other Western countries wear. Where the outfit differs from Western culture is the traditional Norwegian attire bridal crown.
These beautiful crowns are often family heirlooms and are constructed with silver. Long veils are attached to the crowns and can vary in color.
The crowns symbolize purity and the Virgin Mary. Most bridal crowns are adorned with gold or silver spoon-shaped gems that make noise when the bride moves.
The noise wards off evil spirits and ensures the bride has a happy wedding day. This tradition is one of the more unique ones that Norwegian brides rarely miss or do not use!
Brides can choose to wear a more traditional wedding dress if they prefer to stick to the traditions of Norwegian weddings.
These traditional dresses are handmade using black or blue wool. Then, it is embroidered with traditional Norwegian markings. The design of the dress also signifies the region the bride belongs to because the coloring and design are specific to regions across Norway.
3. Groom Attire
Similar to bridal attire, most grooms wear a nice suit or tuxedo like in Westernized weddings. However, if the bride and groom decide on a more traditional Norwegian wedding, the groom wears a bunad. A bunad is a more broad term referring to traditional clothes of the region.
In terms of a wedding bunad, this outfit is considered folk wear. Folk wear like the bunad is similar to the attire worn in Norway between the 18th and 19th centuries.
The bunad is often handmade from wool and covered with intricate designs. The suit consists of short pants, stockings, a vest, a top coat, and a silk shirt.
It is also customary for the other men in the wedding festivities to wear a bunad. These people include the father of the bride and the groomsman.
4. Kissing Traditions
Every culture has cheeky wedding traditions and the kissing traditions in Norwegian weddings are some of the most fun!
During the reception, if the groom stands up and leaves for the restroom, all of the men take the chance to kiss the bride. If the bride leaves the room, all of the women will take their turn to kiss the groom.
If the guests wish to see the bride and groom kiss, they can tap their fork or knife against their glass. Then, the bride and groom are required to stand in their chairs and kiss before the crowd.
These unique Norwegian wedding traditions make the affair much more fun and lighthearted.
5. Wedding Processional
Most weddings have a formalized wedding processional where a song plays that is special to the couple, and the family members, bridesmaids, groomsmen, and the bride walk down to the selection.
At Norwegian weddings, the processional travels either to the church or the town hall. During this time, live musicians play the fiddle or violin. The processional is on foot, on horseback, by carriage, or sometimes by boat!
No matter the mode of transportation, the procession happens in the same manner, with the same traditional music playing and the same order of guests.
The processional order is always fiddle players first, then the soon-to-be-married couple, then their parents, followed by the bridesmaid and the groomsman, then the flower girl and the ring bearer, followed by the rest of the guests.
The fiddle players lead the entire procession to the church or town hall, then lead the couple down the aisle as the rest of the people take their seats or other respective places.
Another aspect to note here that differs from Western cultures is that there is only one bridesmaid and one groomsman in traditional Norwegian weddings!
6. Wedding Size
Traditional Norwegian weddings are not very large. As mentioned, there is only one bridesmaid and one groomsman in addition to the bride and groom, the flower girl, and the ring bearer. In all, the wedding party consists of six people.
The guest list is also relatively short and consists of only their closest friends and family members. Generally, this means grandparents, parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews. Children are not often included in the wedding festivities.
Some guests who are not directly related to the bride and groom attend the wedding, but only if they are very close to the couple.
The wedding size differs from Western cultures, where it is common to invite anywhere from 150-250 people to a wedding! The small size should promote connectivity and celebrate love more authentically.
7. Wedding Cake
Wedding cake is a common tradition in many cultures, but Norwegian weddings typically have the same types of traditional cakes.
The bride and groom can choose to have a blotkake or a Kransekake.
A blotkake is a soft sponge cake filled with cream and topped with icing and fruit. The Kransekake is a tower cake.
The Kransekake is often an almond-based ring cake stacked in layers forming a pyramid. It is topped with icing and fruit. Some people consider this cake to be more of a cookie pyramid and less of a cake.
Besides these two traditional cakes, you might also see a cheesecake or a chocolate cake. It is also common for wedding guests to contribute to the cake table, so there are multiple cakes for the guests to enjoy.
8. Rye and Barley Grains
Rye and barley grains are thrown at the couple to celebrate their union when they leave the church or town hall. The bride tries to catch as many grains as possible in her hands while this happens. The more grains she catches, the happier of a life she and her new husband will have.
9. Musical Traditions
Music is a centerpiece in many wedding traditions across the world. When the couple walks out of the ceremony venue, the traditional song “Come to the Wedding” is played on an accordion by an experienced accordion player.
10. Wedding Spoons
In ancient times, on the third day of wedding festivities, the bride and groom would eat their meal together with the wooden wedding spoons linked by a chain.
Though wedding spoons are a lesser-known and less common tradition, they are still a hallmark of Norwegian wedding culture.
Wedding spoons are wooden spoons with ornate carvings connected by a wooden chain. It is often given as a gift and hung over the new couple’s door frame to signify the joining of two people and as a good luck charm for their future.
11. Reception Traditions
The reception is a time for food, fun, and dancing. Most of the reception consists of speeches and toasts honoring the newlyweds. Unlike Western weddings, there is generally more than one toast, and they are done sporadically throughout the night.
Traditionally, the father of the bride, the bride, the groom, the bridesmaid, the best man, and the father of the groom give speeches at some point during the reception. A toastmaster is named, and they help introduce everyone who gives a speech and keep the speeches moving in a timely fashion.
After everyone eats, the couple has the first dance, and the rest of the wedding guests join in afterward. At traditional Norwegian weddings, folk music is typical, and some guests even come with an original song or lyrics!
A second meal consisting of bread, sausages, soup, or sandwiches is usually supplied later in the evening after everyone has worked off their first dinner from dancing so much!
After the reception, each guest is sent home with a slice of cheese soaked in honey and dipped in nuts, also known as Bride’s Cheese. If the reception is going on too long, the giving of the Bride’s Cheese is enough to stop the party.
12. Post-Wedding Traditions for Newlyweds
The morning after the wedding, it is a tradition that the groom gives the bride a piece of jewelry. When they arrive at the home that they will share, they will often plant a fir tree on either side of their door. It is said this is symbolic of the children they might soon raise in that home.