Nordic Wedding Traditions

Nordic Wedding Traditions

We’ve all heard of the VIKINGS, I mean who hasn’t right?! Ancestors to present day Norwegians, they are believed to be fearful and bloodthirsty, with a sense of honor that could prove deadly if you were on the wrong side. But the stories that we hear today are (mostly) just that, stories. The Vikings were immensely proud people who took care of what was theirs and did everything in their power to protect their family because it was and is a cornerstone of many Nordic wedding traditions, where marriage is no exception.


It was the heart of the family structure during the days of the Vikings, and in those days, involved very intricate rituals. It was not a union between two individuals, but also two families. Marriage offered stability, serving as a way to control sexual activity and reproduction in the community. A culture with a negative historical reputation for its treatment of women actually worked quite hard to ensure relative gender equality and fair treatment of and respect for women and female sexuality.

VIKING WEDDINGS were notoriously time-consuming, where the planning often went on for years in an effort to please the Norse gods and gain their blessings. 

norweigan weddings

Norwegian weddings have evolved from the elaborate rituals that they used to be (they used to exchange swords instead of rings!) to something that resembles the American or European weddings that we come across in mainstream media today.


The typical bride wears a long white dress and her groom will don a black tuxedo as is customary these days. Of course, there are still brides who wear their bun ads or traditional folk attire. The wedding ceremony takes place in 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 invite only 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 lead the way with the bride and groom close behind. Everyone has to make sure that they stand in the right place during the procession; the bride and groom have followed their parents, bridesmaids, ring bearer, flower girls and finally the guests who bring up the rear.

raising toast together

In some places, the men ride in front of the women and the bride always has the best horse – usually a light colored horse. Not everyone rides to the 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 has to make sure that they proceed in the correct order.

cake cutting

Instead of several bridesmaids and groomsmen as is customary in some western cultures, there is only one attendant standing on each side of the bride and groom, along with a flower girl and ring bearer if the couple chooses.

dinner & toasts


After the ceremony, a sit-down dinner follows. The courses can be served to each guest or it may be a smorgasbord or bordello (a cold table) where guests can help themselves. Dinners usually last several hours because of the number of toasts and songs dedicated to the bride and groom. This is a wonderful and personal part of the wedding day that is always full of both tears, laughter, joy, and love. The toastmaster introduces each person who wants to speak and the order of toasts generally goes as follows: father of the bride, the groom, the bride, the maid of honor, the best man, the groom’s father, the bride’s mother, the groom’s mother, grandparents/godparents, friends, and finally the “Thank You for the Meal” speech.

dance togetherFollowing dinner, the wedding cake is cut and the guests help themselves to a variety of cakes, coffee, and post-dinner drinks. In Norway, the bride and groom can ask friends and family to supply additional cakes for the cake table and it is a request that people follow through with graciously. Blacksnake (soft cake), Frankincense, almond cake, cheesecake, and chocolate cakes are among the many delicious items that can be found on the table.

couple dance

Dinner is then followed by a period of dancing, which is kick-started by the first dance between the bride and groom. After guests have spent the night dancing, another meal is provided. The Norwegians really take their food seriously! The Atman (night food) menu is much simpler and generally consist of sausages, soup with bread, or sandwiches. This way the guests won’t leave hungry in the wee hours of the morning.

See Also:
Korean wedding traditions.

About the Author


Monica is a moniker for our relationship expert. She's been working as a relationship counselor for over 10 years, and over time, has sharpened her personality. Unlike typical counselors, Monica is not afraid to use a harsher method to resolve certain issues that demand it. Even if she's a virtual entity now, she can still see into your soul.

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