Monthly Archives: July 2011

Wedding Traditions – Denmark

Back in January I wrote a post about Ghanaian/Ashanti wedding traditions. I talked about how Jeffrey’s family are Ghanaian and how this element must in some way play a part in our (/the dreaded) ‘theme’. Now we’ve only really managed to get a couple of Ghanaian aspects planned because, as I mentioned before, much of the Ghanaian traditions centre around the bride’s family and we can’t really see how we’d tie it in.

But not only are we thinking about Ghanaian elements, but also aspects of Danish wedding traditions due to my Mother being Danish.

So here I give a run down of some of the Danish wedding traditions I know of, and which we may well try and tie some of in to the wedding in some way.

The typical Danish wedding is very similar to the English in that it starts with the bride and groom sleeping separate the night before the wedding (to make a distinction between the wedding day and every other day), a trip to the church or town hall for the ceremony, followed by the wedding reception.

But the Danish wedding reception feels quite different to the English. There are a few customs that tend to take place at Danish wedding receptions that don’t feature in the typical English reception:

  1. Before the wedding, an arch of pine branches is built around the doorway of the bride’s family home. This is called the Gate of Honor. Another is built when the couple celebrates their silver anniversary.
  2. At some point during the ceremony, if the bride leaves the room all the female guests have to run over to kiss the groom, and if the groom leaves the room all the male guests kiss the bride.
  3. When guests bang their cutlery on their plates or glasses the bride and groom have to climb onto their chairs and kiss. When guests stamp their feet the pair have to kiss under the table.
  4. The bride and groom dance the wedding waltz before midnight. Guests stand in a big circle, clap and slowly move closer so that the circle gets smaller until the couple are surrounded by their loved ones.
  5. The male guests pick up the groom to remove his shoes and cut the toes of his socks off. There are a couple of suggested reasons for this: 1) to allow the bride to prove she can sew, and 2) to symbolise that the groom should no longer walk in the footsteps of other women.
  6. Family members often write songs instead of giving speeches. The song lyrics are written to popular melodies and the words are passed around so that everyone can join in.
  7. The traditional Danish wedding cake is made of marzipan rings stacked on top of each other. This cake (Kransekage – below) is decorated with icing and flags and is cut by the bride and groom together to avoid bad luck.
And that’s all the traditions I can think of. A fair few to choose from! So now we just need to work out which we take part in. But we know for definite that we are having the Danish wedding cake. It’s far nicer than fruit cake.

And here’s the Danish Crown Prince Frederik’s Wedding Waltz with his new wife, Mary, for you to pore over:

 

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The Hen Do

So I got an email today from Emerald Street, Stylist magazine’s  “illustrated daily email that will bring not only up-to-the-minute style news but also thoughtful pieces on art, culture, careers and books direct to your inbox five days a week”, that was quite befitting of the stage in our wedding prep I’m at – the hen do.

Let me summarise its argument for you.

“The email that gaily pings into your inbox headed HEN PARTY” is apparently dreaded. Hen parties are said to make women go pale at the thought of tasteless chocolate, ‘Hot Chicks on Tour’ t-shirts, and leaning out of limo windows naked. So, they provide a run down of  five ways to deal with such hellish hen parties:

  1. Organise it yourself – quash those ideas of expensive trips abroad and craft workshops and organise a dinner and breathe a sigh of relief;
  2. Lie to get out of it – a rock solid excuse is a necessity;
  3. Take a zero tolerance approach to L-plates and antennae headbands;
  4. Talk about cash and not being able to afford it; and
  5. Grin and bear it and throw yourself in.

 

Now, I agree with a lot of these points, but having been in the process of organising mine, with much of the input and hassle being shouldered by my sister, I found some of it also annoyed me.

I too go pale at the thought of t-shirts with special slogans and especially at limousines – I HATE limousines.

I understand that times are tight, and there’s only so much you can afford to do when you also have the wedding to attend.

I don’t agree with being expected to go on expensive hen trips abroad; spending hundreds of pounds on a weekend in Paris or a week on a beach in Ibiza just isn’t going to work for me and I wouldn’t expect it of my friends. Jeffrey and I encountered this recently when his friend’s stag do was being organised. It involved three nights in Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia. Jeffrey turned it down after paying £110 for flights, due to us scheduling our wedding for this year. He didn’t take this decision lightly and took much stick from the stag and friends. It turns out one of the stags spent a whopping £700 on the affair. Quite ridiculous if you ask me.

I too don’t want to start doing loads of organised fun activities which can mount up in to huge sums. One ex-colleague was organising her friend’s hen do last year which, whilst in London, was quite a huge deal – a get together the night before, a fancy naked butler serving brunch, hula hooping lessons in the church hall with champagne, some other activity which has escaped my memory, rounded off with a meal in a pricey burlesque dinner/dance place. I remember at the time thinking how excessive this seemed.

And I definitely hate the super tacky willy straws, L-plates, fake wedding dresses with condoms attached, veils, willy antennae headbands and the like. And I’m not one for fancy dress thank you very much, especially on my hen do.

But when it’s what my friends might want to do for their hen parties I’m generally in consensus with option 5. I grin and bear it, within reason of course. OK, so I couldn’t commit to going abroad on a friend’s hen do, or even maybe going away for a few night in the UK (seriously, why has going away become so popular for hen and stag parties?). But I’ll go along with pretty much anything else the hen fancies doing. I’ve made veils, badges and sashes, blown up balloons, had drunken nights out in other UK cities and eaten and drunk wherever the bride has wanted to go. And you know why? Because she’s my friend, she invited me to her hen do, and I think it’s nice to do whatever it is she wants to do on her symbolic last night out as a single girl.

But I would rather avoid some of these thanks:

My hen do? It’s a low key affair – brunch at my flat (minus the naked butler), the dreaded craft workshop (screen printing at the Make Lounge), followed by a low key meal at the reasonably priced Gallipolli on Upper Street (hens breathe a sigh of relief).

And if you want to read the whole Emerald Street article, you can do so here.

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