This wedding was celebrated nearly two months ago, and I am finally recapping the experience. While the summer was a whirlwind, part of my delay in sharing is likely because I’ve been marinating in its splendor for weeks, hesitant to share with the world for fear that I couldn’t possibly do it justice. And I surely won’t, but this is a small something I can help remember it by for decades to come.
It was truly one in a million – the kind of experience I couldn’t even fathom because it was beyond any expectation or dream.
I knew that Kimmy and I were going to have the time of our lives, and it exceeded even that.
Thank you my darlings, Maja and Lars, for letting us share in the magic. We love you to the ends of the Swedish countryside and back and back again. Puss.
^^You just don’t find churches like this is the U.S. The painted wood carvings and plethora of lit candles particularly stole my heart. (Side note: Growing up, I longed for a ceiling painted blue with clouds and for my 16th birthday, my parents surprised me with just that. I was away on a school trip, and when I returned home, I had the bedroom ceiling of my dreams. This church sure sent me skipping down that memory lane!)^^
^^The church rang the bells both as Maja entered the building at the start of the ceremony, and as Maja and Lars existed the church at its finale. They arrived on the steps of the church and everyone joyously threw rice and photographed and cheered for the happy couple. They stood there for quite some time as we all soaked in their newlywed status.^^
^^The Polka Dot Ladies. Kimmy and Maja’s mum, Monica.^^
^^We returned to Baldersnäs, where we sipped champagne and enjoyed caviar under the outdoor pergola. Maja made her own dress (of course). She found a vintage jacket from the early 1920s, that she inverted (the back became the front, the front, the back) and then added the skirt. Her mother is a hair stylist and expert gardener, so Maja’s hair and bouquet and wreath were all thanks to Monica. Maja truly looked like a whimsical woodland fairy – which is more fitting than you may realize. (The photo directly above is of Maja and her host parents from her year in the U.S. They raised children in the town in which I grew up, so Maja and I were thus in the same high school class. It was extremely special to have us all together for this occasion.)^^
^^After cocktail hour, we ventured inside one of the barns of the estate, where the inside had been transformed by these airy sheet of fabric strung with flowers. Fresh flowers adorned an array of metal sculptures, including Maja and Lars’ initials and a series of hearts. ^^
^^It’s tradition to sit at tables with no one you know. Couples, families and friends are divided, so you really have the opportunity to spend meaningful time getting to know new people over the course of the dinner.^^
^^Each place setting included a menu created by Maja that outlined the extravagant courses that were to follow, and a master chart of all of the guests and how they were connected to one another. I am sorry to not have taken a photo of that chart.^^
^^Dinner began around 7pm and we didn’t finish eating until after midnight. Family friends who own a local restaurant cooked the entire meal. We began with Dalsland tapas, that included smoked duck, moose, elk and even beaver. (Yes, I ate beaver. And yes, it was delicious). This course was paired with a red wine. We then moved to the main course of Moose and potatoes and seasonal veggies and a white wine. And next the cheese course, which always steals my heart, and showcased six locally made cheeses and a series of jams and fruits with a dessert wine. And lastly, a cake made by Maja’s friend (one of the daughters of the restaurant owners) that was layered with strawberries and cream and nuts and awesome. A selection of digestifs were served, of which a maple syrup bourbon was my personal favorite.^^
Over the course of this five hour extravagance, people rose to toast the new couple, and I loved the way that everyone was involved in the sharing of stories and celebration.
One of my favorite traditions transpired when Lars left the room to use the WC. As he departed, men began clanging their glasses, and rose to their feet and rushed the bride. All the men, and some women (How I love gender-nonconformity!) waited in line to give Maja a kiss. Had Maja excused herself during dinner, the reaction would have been similar from the female guests (and a few progressive males). Such fun. I would very much like to bring this tradition to the States.
At midnight, the DJ fired up the music, the bar opened (as though we hadn’t sufficiently fueled ourselves with liquor during the dinner), and dance we did. At 2am, the bar started serving hot dogs with every drink. Apparently this is a Swedish tradition to keep guests energized on the dance floor. Kimmy and I were more than mildly enthralled and thrilled with this brilliant concept.
Oh, hot dog. Swedish classic.
I grabbed the photo above at the “darkest” moment of the night (as while the sun set, it never was fully dark). It was such a trip to dance from midnight until 5 o’clock in the morning, with the sun never truly gone. The day bled into the next and so we danced and danced as though it were all one in the same…
At 5:30am, the DJ stopped the music, and those of us brave soldiers left on the dance floor headed for the lake where we swam and sauna-ed and watched the sun continue to rise on the first day of the rest of their lives…
It’s a day I shall carry with me always.