Finland and Australia – two countries with so different history, climate, fauna, lifestyle, and, of course, traditions. How to find a connection between these cultures? How to make a Finnish-Australian wedding and intertwine the local wedding traditions into a single cheerful holiday? We’ll tell you how. To be more precise, we’ll show you that on a good example. This is a story of a young couple from the opposite ends of the world who met, fall in love, and married. Finnish groom + Australian bride = happy marriage.
“I’m from a really small country town called Coonamble, which is in rural New South Wales, Australia”, says Abi, the bride.
“I come from the Åland Islands, which are independently governed part of Finland. The island where I grew up is called Kyrkogårdsö. And it’s a very small island surrounded by 30,000 other very small islands. I’m actually the 17th generation to come from this one island”, says Victor, the groom.
48 hours till “I Do”
We have people coming from every side of the world.
It's not an easy place to get to. It’s at least a 6-hour journey from the mainland.
We decided to start our journey together in Australia. But because this Island is a big part of my heritage, we thought to bring this wedding to Finland to show our little slice of heaven.
“At the island, our tradition is to have a 3-day wedding, because it's so hard for people to get out there”, comments Carl, groom’s cousin.
Once everyone arrives, we’re having a big welcome dinner and we’re gonna have songs that are part of festivities in Swedish-speaking Fins.
The tradition of Snapsvisor means that we are all sitting around long tables. We sing together, and then we drink snaps. It’s a big part of Finnish culture.
24 hours till “I Do”
Mini Finland world championships
The next day, we’re holding mini championships, where we'll be taking the Finish World championship events, which is some crazy things like wife-carrying competition, and Nokia phone throwing competitions, and then we also including axe throwing and clay shooting.
Avoid seeing groom before the wedding
One of the traditions I really wanted to uphold, which was logistically quite hard, was to not see each other the day of the wedding.
My bridesmaids and I will have to travel the night before the wedding to the island where the church ceremony is going to take place.
Victor and his groomsmen will be getting ready on his family island.
3 hours till “I Do”
I’ve chosen to wear something very sentimental but I can’t really discuss it.
“I know that Abi sort of brought in a few traditions from Australia. She is going to wear our grandmother's wedding dress that had been sitting in my grandmother’s closet for many years. Grandma can’t quite make the journey across, so I think it is a nice way of bringing her to the wedding”, narrates Tess, bride’s sister.
Wedding ceremony at the church
The boats hanging up in the church do have a cultural significance. A lot of the men from the Åland Islands used to be seafarers and they used to work on these massive tall ships that were actually stationed to go between Europe and Australia.
And my dad when I was younger actually made a very clear point that, make sure you go to find yourself a wife from a faraway island. Don’t go to a neighboring island because they’re going to be your cousins or something so…
Bride’s vow: “I promise to stay young at heart, to surround us with happiness, to remind you why I love you”.
One tradition, quite typical for the Åland Island, is actually to have a wedding rug. Coming from the fact that it used to be quite cold in winters and newlywed couples would need the rug to stand on and stay warm.
Violinists accompany the bride and groom
My sister is going to join the local violinists and play in front of us as we are walking down from the church.
Can only sail between islands
It’s a tradition that the boats went sail to the wedding reception.
Sailing there is actually a cultural thing for the Åland region because you just have to travel by boat from one island to another.
“For those of you who don’t know, I did all the chasing. And when the time finally came, and I thought he’d kiss me goodbye, he gave me a high five”, remembers the bride in her toast.
Finnish wedding headdress – family crown
I’ve actually been offered by Victor's family to wear his family crown, which has been in their family since 1946.
My grandma wore that, and my aunt wore it as well. It’s a very big honor for us.
Mix of traditions
“I really wanted to have a blend of what the island itself has – it’s really strongly embedded in – and also bringing my Australian background”, adds Abi, the bride.
“I think it's important that we remember our traditions and now when we have two cultures colliding that we can show each other the different traditions we have”, says Victor, the groom.