Last year Michael and I had been to my cousin’s wedding in Malta. However, so far I had not managed to wiggle my way to a Danish wedding invitation. Danish weddings are smaller than Maltese ones, so these are a much rarer prize it seems! So when we received an invitation to go to Soren and Helene’s wedding, I jumped at the opportunity. I wanted to see what a Danish wedding is all about and this was the perfect opportunity as I was told it would be completely traditional.
Unlike Maltese weddings that tend to start either between 10 and 12 or in the evening, the wedding started at 2pm with a church service. The service took around 45mins. Surprisingly, at least to me, the service mainly consisted of the priest talking and a few songs. There was nothing else, except for the short ‘do you take this woman as your wife’ section. In my head the point of having a church wedding is that you put God at the centre of your day and draw comfort from the service. Admittedly, I didn’t understand much from what the priest was saying, but I didn’t get that.
Following the service we then had an hour drive to the Koldingfjord hotel, the reception venue, with a couple of old school friends of Michael. I enjoyed the ride and talking to Michael’s friends. I had met the wife at a party at Michael’s house, so it was good to meet her farmer husband. Now, I always think of farmers as these old men or not particularly educated younger people working the family fields. So it was a revelation to me, I guess, to see this young, well-educated (and good-looking I must add) man who chose a career as a farmer. However, I now realise that in Denmark to be successful as a farmer you need to be on top of everything as it means you have a major business, unlike the mostly tiny fields people tend to in Malta.
On arriving at the hotel we checked in (we were sleeping there to be ready for our flight the next day), dropped out stuff in the room, and went down to the entrance to welcome the bride and groom. They arrived in a classic car (bizarrely owned by a friend of Michael’s sister who we met at his dad’s birthday party 2 weeks early!), got showered by rice, and then we were told (or ordered really) that we were going to go down to the water side, get a group photo, and then couple photos will be taken so we need to be there for that.
The water side (and the whole venue really) was absolutely gorgeous! This made a perfect place for taking wedding photos, especially on such a nice day. On starting the ‘couple photos’ I was surprised to learn that this does not mean that we all take photos with the couple. Instead, the wedding couple were having their own photo shoot, while the rest of us were herded along to take individual/couple photos alone (i.e. Michael and I took one). It felt a bit like we were in roll call, and this was a way of making sure of who had come and who hadn’t. Luckily it didn’t take that long, so it was OK.
After the photos it was in to the dining room, where we found our pre-assigned seats and settled in. This is where the main part of the wedding day happened. Main part you say? Well, the whole wedding lasted from 2pm to around 2am. Of these, we spent pretty much 90% of the time from 6pm to 1am in that room. Why? Well, there was the food to be eaten, and on top of that, there were 20 speeches. Yes – you heard that right 2-0 speeches…in Danish. Let’s just say I wasn’t too excited about that. This also meant that most of the time was spent getting food then sitting down and listening to people giving their speeches. We didn’t have much time to talk to our neighbours (as soon as the last table had got its food, the next set of speeches started), and more unexpectedly to me we didn’t even get to speak to the bride and the groom much. I found this a bit restrictive, when compared to the Maltese reception style where people can move around and mingle at their heart’s content. Luckily, the food was great – but it did mean that I probably indulged myself a bit too much ;).
Another difference I noted was that the cake cutting was barely given any importance. In Malta that is pretty much the main focus of the wedding party. However, in Denmark, the couple barely waited for everyone to arrive for the cake to be cut. I was however surprised to find that even though it was not the typical Maltese almond wedding cake, I wasn’t disappointed (at all!) – the cake was delicious. It seemed to me like rather than the cake cutting being the focus, it was the first dance which was. During the first dance we all stand in a circle around the couple and clap, while progressively making the circle smaller till they cannot move and then they kiss. Unfortunately following the first dance we had to get back to our seats for the last few speeches (the first dance has to be done before midnight apparently), before we could take to the dance floor.
The night ended with the ‘night food’, which in this case was hot dogs at 2am in the morning. Nomnom…I love Danish hotdogs (though I hate the fact that the bread is never big enough to hold the whole sausage!).
So what did I think overall? Well, I like the fact that the wedding is all about the wedding couple, from the service, to the reception, to everything. As a guest however I really felt like this is their day and you are there just as a spectator rather than to necessarily enjoy yourself. This is completely different to the Maltese weddings where I often feel that there isn’t enough focus on the wedding couple, and the wedding couple don’t get much time to enjoy themselves as they have to go round talking to everyone.
Would I go to another Danish wedding (if invited)? Probably – though hopefully I would know more Danish by then.
Would I want a Danish wedding for myself? Probably not – it’s a bit too much. Even on my special day I don’t think I want me to be the centre of attention all.the.time – it felt like an invasion of personal space just by looking, let alone being the one in the middle! The number of speeches as well was a bit over the top for me. However, there were some things which I liked, including (surprisingly!) the cake :). Oh – and I love the romanticism of Danish churches ;). I guess I would have to compromise with Michael if we ever get married as to what we do :P.
Congratulations Helene and Soren!