My sister got married this summer. That inspired me to write about Finnish wedding traditions. It is not unusual to get an invitation to a winter wedding but summer is the real wedding season in Finland. Saturdays are usually saved for weddings.
The ceremony is traditionally held in a church where a priest weds the young (or old!) couple. The father of the bride walks her daughter down the aisle and hands her over to her future husband. The bridesmaids and best man wait at the altar. In my sister’s wedding the priest said the wrong names couple of times but I think it was his way of keeping us entertained. This was the topic people talked about after the ceremony! After the ceremony the newly-wed couple comes out of the church and people can throw rice or blow soap bubbles. After this people move to the wedding reception. The bride and the groom drive away alone. In my case I took them to take some photos. Wedding pictures can be taken inside for example in a studio or beautiful building or outside for example by a lake or in a forest.
When the guests have arrived at the venue (Finns usually play it safe and pick some kind of indoor space when deciding the wedding venue as the Finnish weather cannot be trusted) the bride and the groom arrive. They can have a welcoming toast and some speeches at this point. The Bride and the groom (and sometimes their parents) usually want to welcome everyone separately by shaking their hands before going in. Friends and family from both sides are invited and the total number of guests can be anything between 10-200.
There usually is good Finnish food in the reception; meat, fish, chicken, vegetables, potatoes, salads, the wedding cake and some other dessert. Drinks are also an important part. Games and performances are not uncommon. Some include: throwing the bouquet and the garter and “morsiamen ryöstö” where the friends of the groom kidnap the bride and make the groom do something embarrassing or collect money to get his bride back. The whole thing lasts from some time in the afternoon to the small hours.