Swedish wedding traditions range from lucky coins in shoes to carrying foul smelling bridal bouquets designed to keep the trolls away from your wedding. In this article, however, we look at how a Swedish wedding table plan (Bröllop Bordsplan) is set out, the traditional reception speeches and toasts for the bride and groom.
Reception Seating etiquette
Swedish seating protocol requires a little extra thought when designing your seating plan. Follow these simple rules and you cannot go wrong:
- Married couples are never seated together. Of course, the exception to this is that a bride and groom are seated next to each other, for the last time, at their own wedding!
- Engaged couples, however, are seated together.
- People who are ‘Sambo’ (a Swedish colloquialism meaning that they are living together but not married) are not seated together.
- Siblings are never seated next to each other.
- Bridesmaids and best men are seated together.
- For the remaining guests, the wedding seating plan should be designed in a manner that tries to seat people next to someone they have something in common with.
Toasting and speeches are an essential part of any Swedish banquet, and a wedding reception meal is no exception. Speeches are announced formally by a designated Toast master, and guests are expected to put their cutlery down and refrain from eating during the speech. For this reason, many Swedish weddings have a cold ‘Smorgasbord’ buffet as their starter. The speeches are generally as follows:
Given by the father or mother of the bride. Guests are expected not to start eating or drinking (except water) before this speech is held.
Groom’s parents’ speech
Since the father of the groom usually gives the final Thank You speech, it is usually the mother of the groom who gives this speech.
Bridesmaids and groomsmen’s speeches
At least one bridesmaid and one groomsman are expected to speak, choosing to give a speech together or individually.
Any guest is welcome and encouraged to give a speech! Traditionally, siblings and other relatives of the bride and groom take this opportunity, as do close friends. Often, groups of friends will give prepared speeches together.
Thank you speech
The person who is seated on the bride’s left – usually the father of the groom – is expected to hold a Thank You speech. This is done when the meal is over and guests have finished eating.
Toasting the Swedish way
Accompanying the many wedding speeches, of course, is a lot of chinking of glasses and toasting the happy couple. The traditional Swedish toast actually dates back to the Vikings, who looked the person they toasted straight in the eye (to ensure he wasn’t going to attack or draw his weapon while you were drinking!). Eye contact was also made as soon as you had finished drinking, for the same reason.
This tradition has carried on to the present day, where after a speech or toast, guests will raise their glasses, make eye contact with the person sitting next to them (and in the general direction of the speaker and bride and groom), and say “Skål” (Cheers!). After a sip of wine, guests will keep their glasses raised and make eye contact again before replacing their glass on the table. Formally, men should wait for women to replace their glasses before putting their own glass down.
Would you like to dance?
In Sweden, it is expected that a man will ask the lady seated to his left for the first two dances after dinner, rather than to seek out their own partner.