The lure of a Viking wedding is very tempting when we watch such shows about ‘the Vikings’. How realistic are these shows though? Are they a true representation of Viking wedding traditions and rituals? Or are they glamourized for the big screen magic?
Well, let’s find out! We have the answers for you with a deep dive into true Nordic Viking traditions and rituals. For those wanting to throw a Viking wedding of their own, we have the best modern Viking wedding ideas. The perfect alternative wedding ceremony!
You’ll be inspired to have the most amazing Viking wedding that everyone will be talking about for years to come!
What is a Viking wedding?
A Viking wedding is a traditional Norwegian wedding held around 1000 years ago. A unity ceremony and a celebration feast were the main events but festive usually lasted around a week long. Like with today’s weddings it was about the celebration of the joint of two families.
The bride and groom would each bring something of value to the other as a way of ‘paying’ for their new spouse. The bride’s father would also give her away during the ceremony.
A lot of Viking weddings were held in the springtime as it was considered the best time to start a new life. It was also thought that the sun had special powers during this time and could bless the new couple with good fortune.
Traditional Viking Wedding
A Viking wedding venue would be the outdoors. That’s right, a Viking wedding ceremony would take place under the wide open sky and surrounded by nature. This was because the Norse people believed that the gods and goddesses lived in nature, so by being married in nature they were closer to the deities.
Another reason for having an outdoor Viking wedding was due to logistics. Back in those days, there weren’t many large indoor spaces where a whole community could gather. So instead, everyone would meet outside in an open woodland or meadow.
Before the wedding, there were a few key traditions that needed to be carried out. Firstly, the bride’s father would need to approve of the groom. He would then need to negotiate a bride price with the groom’s family. This was known as the ‘morning gift’.
The bride price could be anything from cows, sheep, land, or even money. It was usually given to the bride’s father on the morning of the wedding and was a way of compensating him for his daughter leaving the family home.
The bride would also be given a dowry by her father. This was a collection of all her belongings that she would take with her to her new home and gifts from her father.
Married on a Friday
A Viking wedding would always be held on a Friday, also known ad Frigga’s day. The day of the goddess of love, beauty, fertility, and marriage in Norse mythology. So by getting married on her day, it was thought to bestow good luck upon the new couple. See more at Life in Norway.
Fertility was also an important aspect of a Viking wedding as it was essential for a woman to be able to bear children. It was believed that the more offspring a woman had, the more her status would increase within society.
So by getting married on Frigga’s day and having the goddess of fertility oversee their wedding, it was hoped that the couple would be blessed with many children.
Nowadays, couples have the choice of an outdoor wedding or not. But back in Viking times, it was customary for weddings to be held outdoors with nature as the backdrop.
As mentioned before, the Norse people believed that the gods and goddesses lived in nature. So by being married in nature, they were closer to the deities.
Another reason for having an outdoor Viking wedding was due to logistics. Back in those days, there weren’t many large indoor spaces where a whole community could gather. So instead, everyone would meet outside in open woodland or meadow.
The bride and groom would each have a friend or family member as their witness. These people would stand by them during the ceremony and later sign the contract to make it official.
The ceremony itself was very simple. The couple would exchange their vows, after which they would drink from a shared horn of mead. Mead was a fermented honey drink that was thought to be blessed by the gods.
After drinking mead from the horn, the couple would then be considered married. They would often spend their wedding night in a special hut that had been prepared for them. In the morning, they would return to their homes as husband and wife.
A Viking wedding ceremony would be followed by a feast. The feast would last for several days and everyone in the community would be invited. There would be plenty of food and drink, as well as music and dancing. It was a time for celebrating the new union and wishing the couple good luck in their married life.
Mead would flow freely and there would be plenty of meat, as well as bread and vegetables. The feast was a chance for everyone to get to know the new family member and to celebrate the start of a new life.
After the wedding feast, it was customary for the couple to spend a few days in seclusion. This was known as the ‘honeymoon’ and was a time for the newlyweds to get to know each other better.
After the honeymoon, the couple would return to their homes and start their life together as husband and wife.
Viking weddings were simple yet steeped in tradition. The community would come together to celebrate a new union and wish the couple all the best for their married life.
Viking wedding rituals
- Maidenhead rituals for the bride
- Sword ceremony for grooms
- Exchange of swords
- Animal sacrifice
Modern Viking wedding ideas
Of course, the first way to have a modern-themed Viking wedding is to have an outdoor event. If completely outdoor is not your thing then a tipi wedding would be a perfect idea. Or if you are wanting a completely indoor venue then look for older buildings or a big hall style to still give that large gathering feel.
As Vikings were pagan having a handfasting ceremony would be a great choice. You could include a sword exchange or a whisky/mead ceremony.
For the bride, you could go for a simple white dress or even a traditional Norse gown. Many of which can be found on Etsy. For the groom and his men, they could wear kilts in their clan tartan or even leather trousers with fur to keep warm.
Head to our Viking wedding dress guide for lots of Norse goddess options!
To add to the atmosphere, you could have a Viking-style band playing traditional music. This would be perfect for the wedding feast. You could also add in some modern touches such as a fire dancer or even an acrobatics show.
Food and drink
Of course, there would need to be plenty of food and drink at a Viking wedding feast. You could have a traditional hog roast or even a BBQ. There would need to be lots of meat and vegetables, as well as bread and cheese.
For the drink, you could serve mead or even craft beers. You could also have a whisky toast instead of bubbles.
When it comes to decorating for a Viking wedding, you could go for a rustic feel with lots of greenery. You could also add in some fur accents and even some antlers. Candles would also be perfect for adding to the atmosphere.
A Viking wedding is a beautiful celebration of love and community. The traditions and rituals that have been passed down for centuries still hold meaning today. If you are looking to add a touch of Norse culture to your big day, then consider some of these modern Viking wedding ideas we shared above.
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