A Scandinavian Wedding?
July 1, 2013 11:58 PM   Subscribe

What time of year and what location is feasible for having a wedding in Northern Europe, given that we aren't averse to snow and want to have a small ceremony?

I just proposed to my girlfriend. For some stupid reason, she said yes. I'm American, from Michigan, and she's Japanese, from Kansai. Her parents seem to want an excuse to get out of the country, and since I don't feel like going back to the states where hardly any of my friends are (at least not in one convenient place; everyone gtfo of MI in the last ten years), we're thinking of hitting up Northern Europe for our ceremony.
She's not Christian, or particularly religious at all. Myself, being a fan of heavy metal and also a strident (pissy) atheist, I have dreams of a ceremony somewhere other than a church, officiated by someone in the best of black metal makeup, with snow somewhere in the background. I haven't really thought it (or much of anything else) through yet, but that's the general idea.
There are plenty of posts on traveling to Scandinavia, so I don't need tips on what to do for the honeymoon, but are there any natives who can give me advice on the ceremony thing? Specifically, I have no idea what time of year would be best; we want to be able to go skiing, want to see snow (this damnable oven that is Tokyo hardly ever gets it), but also not be locked down to the point where traveling to other countries/sites is a major pain. Do hotels in Sweden generally have a space for weddings? The hotels in Tokyo (the major ones at least) almost all do, and they'll even have a token white fake priest guy with a token fake church choir and token pews in front of a token cross.
We were also thinking maybe Switzerland. She apparently desperately wants to buy a watch.
posted by GoingToShopping to Travel & Transportation around Sweden (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Getting married in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland (not Scandinavia but still), and Iceland. Switzerland.
posted by mdonley at 12:32 AM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Clarification: We're getting paper married in September. This is just a ceremony.
posted by GoingToShopping at 12:49 AM on July 2, 2013

Wait till winter, go to the ice hotel in Jukkasjärvi, northern Sweden.
posted by Iteki at 1:15 AM on July 2, 2013 [5 favorites]

if its skiing and snow, then I wouldn't recommend Denmark. 1) the whole country is relatively flat, so, no downhill skiing, and B) although it gets cold and windy, snow isn't predictable, so there's no guarantee. Definitely northern Sweden and Norway.
posted by alchemist at 1:23 AM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

First, congratulations.

For a wedding, Skansen in Stockholm offers drop in weddings, but not year round. Las Vegas it isn't. You can also arrange a wedding at the city hall.

Hotels AFAIK don't normally provide a wedding chapel.

Skiing in Sweden is very expensive and mostly disappointing IMHO. The best ski area is Riksgränsen, but this is in the far north, hard to get to, and the best season is in the Spring (when it's not dark all the time and not bitterly cold.)

Åre, a bit further south, offers some decent skiing, but nothing really special. Darkness in the winter also makes for a short ski day - and again it's cold as hell.

In Norway, you have Trysil in the south which again is not really great skiing. And Tromsø in the north - again hard to get to, dark, and cold as hell during most of the winter.

Denmark is not a ski destination.

You are much better off going anywhere in the Alps for skiing. The cost is less, or about the same as in Sweden, and the skiing incomparable, more daylight, sunny even, the temperatures mostly tolerable, and the food much, much better. (Discipline in the lift lines is another story.)

If you decide on Sweden please mefi mail me and I'd be happy to help you out with additional details and arrangements.

Best of luck and happiness to the both of you.
posted by three blind mice at 1:52 AM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

If you can afford it, the Ice Hotel mentioned above would make an amazing backdrop for a wedding in black! They do a lot of weddings, and would be able to tailor make the experience if that sort of thing is important to you.
posted by harujion at 2:03 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the info and the kind words, TBM! If we decide on Sweden, we'll definitely let you know, and also definitely be checking out the Ice Hotel! The skiing thing is more a side-goal than something important enough to base the whole trip around; the Mrs. can't ski at all, and I'm pretty horrible at it since it's been a number of years.

One thing I'm keen on seeing is the Fjords of Norway, so we'll probably spend at least two weeks wandering around on honeymoon travel after the ceremony.
posted by GoingToShopping at 3:52 AM on July 2, 2013

There's lots of other snow-stuff to do at the ice hotel if you aren't skiing, a dog-sleigh trip or snowscootering frex. As mentioned though, pricey.
posted by Iteki at 4:05 AM on July 2, 2013

First off, CONGRATULATIONS!! Are you doing anything in Tokyo?

I studied in Norway (near Bergen) for two years and there's certainly breathtaking scenery and fjords on the west coast. You can take sightseeing trains like the one from Bergen to Flam - I think it operates during the winter as well. I've heard the north (Tromso, Bodo) is amazing too, but it depends on how much ice and snow you are willing to brave to see the Northern Lights and/or polar night. The area around Oslo is rather less scenic, but any of these places are good for skiing.

I would advise you to go during early spring if you intend to ski, since the days get longer, less rainy and the snow thicker. Most Norwegians I know go for cross-country/slope skiing and camping before or during Easter. (Cross-country is big in Norway, but it's pretty taxing for beginners so I don't recommend it.)

In general skiing and ski resorts are very family-friendly and not as luxurious in feel as some Swiss resorts can be, so Switzerland may be more romantic? They'll be equally expensive though :P
posted by monocot at 5:41 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

We sure are, Monocot! We're planning on having the actual ceremony overseas, but also having two receptions, one here and one in Kansai. I'll be sure to send you an invite!
posted by GoingToShopping at 5:57 AM on July 2, 2013

We're close to solar maximum, and dark nights in winter make seeing the Aurora Borealis more likely. I would choose a nice Northern location and hope for clear skies and Aurora Borealis. There are travel tours for aurora seekers, but no guarantees. You need clear skies and some solar activity.
posted by theora55 at 11:02 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

We were in Helsinki in April and it snowed pretty heavily, so you may not need to go too far north. I had to wear two T-shirts plus a cardigan and coat when I went out, whereas a few days before in London I was sitting in a park in a vest top. Early spring might be good for cold/snowy but not TOO cold, I think.

Helsinki also has a gorgeous archipelago. You could take the passenger ferry out to Suomenlinna for photos.
posted by mippy at 3:26 AM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

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