A Wedding in Sweden
I love weddings! They have always been a part of my life, especially growing up in a big African family where weekends were exclusively reserved for attending weddings and in a culture where weddings were considered an event to be shared with the entire community (all gatecrashers welcome!).
Whether it was the wedding of an aunt, an uncle, a neighbour, family friends or eighteenth cousins there was always reason to celebrate (even if we didn't personally know who the bridal couple was!).
For this reason, I was utterly excited when, this past summer, we were invited to attend the wedding of our friends in Sweden (a wedding plus the chance travel equals a double bonus for me!).
Not only was this the perfect excuse to get all dressed up for a special occasion but it was also the perfect opportunity to visit a new country and to experience a wedding take place in a new cultural setting.
Having wrapped up our life in Singapore only a week before our trip to Sweden, we arrived in Malmö - a large coastal city in Southern Sweden - ready to enjoy the wedding festivities and to unwind from the stresses of an international relocation.
With a bit of time on our hands, our first evening in Malmö was spent ambling the lively downtown area while enjoying the warm summer evening.
We were even lucky enough to stumble across a small food and music festival in the bustling city centre - tiny clues which hinted to Malmö's vibrant arts scene and diverse mix of cultures.
Feeling refreshed, the following morning we made our way to the small seaside town of Kivik, about an hour's drive outside the city.
The three-day wedding celebrations (definitely my kind of wedding!) would be taking place in the pristine countryside of this small town.
Happy to exchange Malmö's hustle and bustle for the more calm and peaceful air of the Swedish countryside, we made our way to Kivik. By mid-afternoon, when the grassy fields of the countryside slowly gave way to a rustic costal atmosphere, we arrived in the small seaside town.
Dotted with colourful little cottages, overlooking the endless blue of the Baltic Sea, Kivik wore the charming atmosphere of a peaceful and idyllic seaside village.
Located on a quiet road along the seafront our hotel, the Kivik Strand, was equally as charming with its simple elegance and soft, nautical decor.
It also didn't hurt that the entrance of the hotel was a pretty little tea-room (which we later found out was also our check-in desk!) which served up some of the most delicious Swedish sandwhiches and treats.
photos: Kivik Strand Hotel - www.kivikstrand.se
Immediately feeling rejuvenated by the fresh seaside air, later that evening we prepared to attend the first leg of wedding festivities - a cosy beach picnic under the stars!
Mingling with the bridal couple and the other wedding guests we were treated to an evening of merriment (i.e. loads of free-flowing wine!) which lasted late into the night.
The following morning, the day of the wedding and main events, we drove to the neighbouring town of Ravlunda where we met again with all the other wedding guests. Boarding an old steam train we were whisked away to the breathtaking location of the wedding ceremony - a 12th century church perched atop a hill overlooking the Baltic Sea!
photo: Åke Johansson- www.kyrkokartan.se
After witnessing the beautiful wedding ceremony the steam train took us on a short and magical journey of the surrounding countryside until it stopped outside an old train station where we disembarked and found that a lovely spread of light refreshments were awaiting us (could this wedding get any more charming?!).
After our brief stop we headed back to Ravlunda to join the bridal couple at an old distillery - the chich and modern venue of the wedding reception. Beginning with a light cocktail party in the pretty courtyard we then welcomed the newlywed couple as they walked in to the smooth tunes of a local music band.
After an hour of mellow drinks and conversation we headed indoors for the formal wedding dinner and speeches which - being that the union was between a Swedish and Norwegian couple - were conducted in both languages.
While Swedish and Norwegian are apparently similar (so much so that no cross-translations were required), for us foreign guests the bridal couple thoughtfully arranged our seating in such a way that we were closely sat next to local guests (also English-speakers) who loosely translated most of the speeches for us.
From what we gleaned, it was clear that the wedding speeches inspired a warm and jovial atmosphere!
After dinner we gathered downstairs in the dance room where we practically twirled and danced all night! Although my memories of the night start to (err..) "dwindle" at this point, I do vividly remember the crowd (particularly myself!) go crazy as Shakira's famous "Waka-Waka" song (the "anthem" for the 2010 South African World Cup) came on.
After burning some energy and working up an appetite on the dancefloor we were treated to a buffet of Swedish mid-night snacks (think delicious IKEA hotdogs and more!) which made me love the Swedish even more!
Judging by the sea of faces wrapped in dark sunglasses the following morning as we gathered for the final round of celebrations, it was clear that fun was had the previous night! After enjoying the last bits of conversation over a casual and intimate wedding brunch, we said our farewells as everyone began to head for their separate journeys home.
As we made our way back to Malmö it occurred to me that despite differences in our cultural or social customs, when it comes to weddings (be they African, European, Eastern or otherwise) what ultimately brings people together is the strong desire to witness and celebrate love. Thank you Linnea and Nikolai for having us at your amazing wedding, it was truly a magical weekend filled with a " whole lotta love "! x