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Studying and Living in Finland LUT Alumni Experience by Aisulu Harjula

Wedding in Finland

Aisulu Harjula 20.9.2016 Culture 1 Comment on Wedding in Finland

Traditions vs. stereotypes – peaceful and calm wedding or a lot of alcohol and fun?

It has been a bit over a year since I got married. He is Finnish, and as a couple that respects both cultures we had two wedding celebrations – one in Kazakhstan (in Kazakh traditions, and it was actually the farewell of the bride party called kyz uzatu) and one in Finland.

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In a Finnish church after the wedding ceremony

In Finland friends of bride and groom organize Bachelor’s parties and as I’ve heard there is plenty of alcohol drinks (we didn’t have a bachelor party). Our Finnish wedding was very peaceful and it was far from a typical wedding in Kazakhstan. Here in Finland weddings are usually calm and relaxed but there are also some funny games for the groom and bride.

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A Finnish wedding is pretty much European/Western, quite reserved and simply nice. Guests sit or talk with each other, and the wedding atmosphere is more like a lounge for people to come, enjoy the event and chat. In Kazakhstan in each wedding there is a professional person called tamada who makes everyone laugh and keeps everybody’s attention all the time, and there is a loud music and both the couple and the guests dance. There is no time for them to sit and chat.

Wedding gifts – what to give as a gift?

In Finland many pairs appreciate financial gifts (as perhaps everywhere). It is now widespread to write your own bank account number on the invitation card and ask the invitees if they want to make a gift as a money transfer for the honeymoon or house. However, it doesn’t mean one can’t bring a gift at all, it is up to the guest to decide. In Kazakhstan people usually give money as a gift but there is no way a couple would ask it from the guests in advance.

Food and serving

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In Finland food is served as a buffet and everyone comes and gets own plate. Though there is a lot of food served during the event (first course, main course, coffee and desserts) there is no servant. In Kazakhstan food is served on the table and different courses are served by many servants during the event (each table has own servant like in a restaurant), people don’t need to come themselves and queue.

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Our cake was decorated with a family memory – a statue that was on my husband’s parents’ wedding.

Also an interesting tradition is that in Finland guests do not come with flowers to the wedding, instead the wedding organizer is responsible to get some little flowers on tables as a decoration. The only celebration flowers are the bride’s flowers. In Kazakhstan most of the guests come with a large bunch of flowers in appreciation for the big celebration event.

Important traditions in Kazakhstan

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Another tradition we followed was betashar – revealing the bride’s face. The bride in a veil gives respect to groom’s parents by bowing to them in turn. This is accompanied with a song and traditional instrument dombra. After that the veil is opened. He brought we on a horse in a veil and carried me to the relatives in his hands.

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We were dressed according to Kazakh traditions and danced Kazakh dances

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In our party in Kazakhstan there was a show of traditional games, one of them is kyz-kyy, a tradition when a boy chase a girl on a horse and then otherwise. If he catches her, he can kiss her. If she catches him she can lash him with a whip. Historically in Kazakhs’ nomadic culture skills to master riding a horse were very important.

Church wedding

It is possible to get married in a Finnish church and get blessed even if one of spouses doesn’t belong to the Evangelist-Lutheran religion. Church accepts it freely and does not require to convert. This is really nice because there is no religious conflicts in families of couples from different backgrounds and culture. Though even Finnish people sometimes prefer to get married only in the civil registrar office (or not to get married at all anywhere – so called open marriage (avoliitto) is quite widespread in Finland), it is everyone’s own choice.

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In the church the couple can choose the live organ music in advance. We walked with the most traditional Mendelssohn’s wedding march.

It is also possible to attend the church in any other time and unlike many of the annoying religious propagandists (like some you can meet even in a bus and they will stick on to you), general Finnish church (i.d. Evangelist-Lutheran) never tries to acquire or convert you.

About The Author

Researcher at LUT, Master of Economics, LUT & GSOM Saint Petersburg State University. Focus on Strategy, Innovation and Sustainability. Background in natural sciences.

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