Tuesday, July 8th, 2008:
A Swedish Wedding -
not in Helsingborg
What I think:
Last Saturday, I went to a wedding with my girlfriend. It was the matrimony of a couple of friends she's known for a number of years.
The wedding itself was to take place in a church in a town with an unpronounceable name, near a town called Höör, which I would wrongly (and very inappropriately) pronounce Whore.
But first, we stopped off to visit the bride-to-be, so that my girlfriend could help her get ready, and offer moral support on this most important, yet stressful, day. This was in a town called Hörby (which is pronounced rather unlike Herbie), which is located just over an hour's drive away from Helsingborg.
When we got to the church, we parked about a short walk away, and made our way to the grounds. This is where I learned my first lesson about Swedish weddings: you have to shake hands with, and introduce yourself to, everyone. There were about a hundred people there, so this took some time. I don't think I've said "Mark" as many times in all my life as I did on that day (and I'm forty-three-and-a-third today).
While we were waiting to be summoned in for the ceremony, we were being entertained by a quaint quintet of musicians. Aren't they adorable?They played good old Swedish folk songs, like Staten & Kapitalet by Ebba Grön, and The Look by Roxette.
The ceremony itself was nice, and just the perfect length. A few songs were sung; one by the bride, and a couple more by a guest singer. a few psalms were also sung, but they didn't make much sense to me because a) they were in Swedish and b) they apparently had something to do with religion.
Afterwards, we all followed the newlyweds back out to the church grounds. As we exited, some guy at the door had a basket of sunflower seeds, handfuls of which were being offered to the guests walking past. Somewhat baffled by this, I declined. When we got outside, I discovered that these were, in fact, not for eating.
It's apparently customary to form an orderly queue to where the newlyweds await congratulations and well wishes from the whole congregation. So people patiently wait their turn to chuck sunflower seeds at the couple - and wish them well straight after the assault.
Luckily, my girlfriend had picked up on this (it was her first church wedding), and had taken a handful of said seeds. We agreed that she would throw the seeds, while I would simultaneously do an impossibly fast watercolour painting of the action. Voilà:Next, we were herded around to a courtyard next to the church to have a glass of sparkling wine and a delicious little nibble. Because of the sheer number of guests, there appeared to be a fair bit of queuing for whatever we'd do, but it was all very laid-back and good-natured. It was a nice day, and everyone seemed very happy.
The buildings were nice as well. I think they were built a very long time ago; possibly even a few years before ABBA.
But wait! What's that on the left of the image above?
Yes, it was that folk band again, this time really getting into it with Take A Chance On Me by ABBA, coincidentally.
My girlfriend really wanted to get a nice photo of me in a suit, as I only usually wearing black t-shirts with black jeans. But I was feeling a bit mischievous, so just as she was taking the shot, I stuck out my tongue and inflated my head. She wasn't terribly impressed, it has to be said.
From there, we were instructed to grab a pen and a bit of paper on which we were to mark our answers to a number of multiple choice questions. The questions were hung along a trail leading to where there would be another glass of bubbly, and where the bride and groom would join us, so that we could toast their happiness for the first time.
A note about Swedish multiple choice question and the corresponding answer forms: The questions are numbered as they should be, but rather than have e.g. a, b, and c as answers, the choices are 1, X, and 2. I don't get it.
In any case, soon after all this, it was time to adjourn to the reception hall, which was in a building in an adjoining courtyard.
Charming, isn't it?
The dinner was very nice, but it seemed as though there were about twenty different speeches, and some confusion over which platters of potatoes belonged to which sections of which tables (same with the sauce), and the guy who was serving us forgot my girlfriend's alcohol-free wine a few times...
I'm not really a very dinner-party-friendly person normally, and this was quite a long one, so I was rather fidgety, and had to go out several times to stretch my legs and smoke ciggies. But it was definitely a nice one, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves thoroughly.
Unfortunately, we couldn't stay for too much of the actual partying part of the reception, as it didn't really get underway until about midnight, my girlfriend was driving, we were in the middle of nowhere (and it was pitch black), and we weren't sure of the route home. Shame; it would have been pretty easy to party until sunrise.
I had a great time, but I think that multiple choice quizzes here should be a lot more straightforward, as they are confusing to non-Swedes, and therefore discriminatory and downright xenophobic. It's time that the Swedish government did something about it.
That's what I think.