Updated on: Feb 11, 2024
Taking something old and altering it to be new and beautiful has been done for generations with all sorts of things like buildings, furniture, and clothes. So why can’t it be done at the old traditional Viking wedding? Below is a way to create a beautiful and elegant modern Viking wedding ceremony.
History of a Viking Wedding Ceremony
Weddings were a big deal in the Viking culture, they involved a lot of tradition and customs. These were typically weeklong events that celebrated the union of the families, not just the couple. Several rituals and events went into place during the wedding process, many of which seem crazy to us in the modern day. Some of these traditions included exchanging swords, negotiations between the families, and even sacrifices to the gods.
Weddings in the Viking culture normally took place during the fall, after the busy crop season, and before the snow falls, and typically on Fridays to pay tribute to the goddess Frigga (which Friday was supposedly named after). The bride and groom along with their families would part take in various wedding preparations to ensure that everything was set in stone for the actual day of the ceremony. Speaking of preparedness, check out both our wedding budget and wedding checklist.
Making a Viking Wedding Ceremony Modern
1. Attire at a Viking Wedding Ceremony
Traditional attire at a Viking wedding looked almost as if some members were heading off to battle. Men would wear armor such as vambraces and greaves along with gambesons and tunics. Women wore long flowy gowns. The men would typically also be carrying their swords and shields. You can still find most traditional male attire online.
A traditional Viking bride would be in a dramatic dress with lots of layers and a fur overlay. Her look would be complete with a floral headband or tiara along with braided hair. Although some oppose wearing a real fur overlay you can always wear a colorful cloak or fake fur to bring the whole look together.
2. Bridal Wedding Hair
To the Vikings, the brides wedding day hair was more important than her dress. It was used to symbolize her sexuality. She inherits a bridal crown that her mother wore on her wedding day. To recreate this, you can get purchase a toy crown to stay on budget and decorate it,as was the tradition. They would use ornaments such as flowers and sticks. The more ornaments and the longer the brides hair, it was thought to be a stronger marriage.
3. Modern Decorations
Creating the right aesthetic for the wedding is essential. You want your Viking wedding ceremony to be traditional but keep it fresh and modern. Choosing the right decorations will help with creating the feel as if you are back in time. One must that should be included at the wedding is drinking horns, at a traditional Viking wedding the marriage was not legal unless the couple both drank the mead from the horns. Adding in animal skulls and furs, (which can fake for the obvious reason) vines and flowers, and candlesticks will help create the Viking theme you are looking for.
4. Handfasting Viking Wedding Ceremony
A Viking wedding wasn’t complete without a handfasting ceremony, which happens after the couple exchanges their vows. The handfasting ceremony is where a ribbon or cord is wrapped around the bride and grooms’ hands to bond them to the vows they just gave and to each other. This is a nice way to solidify the marriage while bringing historical accuracy to the ceremony.
5. Exchanging Swords in a Viking Wedding Ceremony
It was customary that the bride and groom would exchange swords at the altar. The sword from the groom’s side would represent his family’s lineage. The one from the brides would be a new one that her now-husband would use to protect their family. This was also representative of the fact that the groom is now the protector of the bride instead of her father.
This can be modernized by exchanging something that holds meaning to you and what you want to bring into your new marriage. It could be something such as a family heirloom or something you hold precious to yourself. This trade can be done at the altar or in private to make it more special for you and your partner.
6. Games and Entertainment
Games and activities at a Viking wedding would usually last days after the ceremony. Including traditional games and some modern ones will be a nice way to keep your guest active and involved throughout the day.
To create some fun and friendly competition between the two families you can incorporate bride-running. If you have a wedding where the altar and the reception location are near each other this is a perfect contest race for the brides and grooms’ families to participate in. They will race each other from the altar to the reception space; whichever family arrives first will be served their drinks by the other family all night. This could be changed to have the winning prize be get food first if you have a catered bar.
Other types of entertainment would be including lawn games that would encompass the Viking culture. Like setting up a mini archery course. At a Viking wedding, they would participate in archery contests. To make it safe for everyone, especially there will be little ones around, you can get archery sets for kids or beginners that don’t include actual metal tips. Another fun activity to have would be mock sword fighting. Assuming that you don’t want your guests fighting until their death you can use fake swords, so no harm comes to any guests.
7. Drinks and Cuisine
Drinks and cuisine are a very important part of any wedding being had. The Vikings have eaten various things but mainly fatty foods and berries to match the seasons. These foods included porridge, bread, meat(mostly pork), fish. As far as berries went you'd want to have a lot of raspberries, bilberries, plums, apples, hazelnuts, and walnuts. These are all easy items to get your hands on to have the perfect food to match the wedding. Porridge isn't as popular as it used to be so for a substitute there are other things you can use in it's place such as bread pudding.
Mead is a very important part of their traditions. Mead is the fermentation of honey with water. This will have to be something prepared earlier on in planning stages of wedding to be sure it is completely fermented, or find a source you can purchase it at. This was used as way to help the bride ease into the idea of being someones wife.
Viking Wedding Ceremony: Conclusion
If you are someone who has come of Viking descent, interested in the culture or even the overall aesthetic a Viking wedding ceremony might be the right choice for you. This is the creative style of wedding that will leave a memorable impression on all of your guests for a long time to come. A Viking wedding ceremony can be brought back to its roots with a few simple touches. Be sure to check out our other resources about wedding ceremony ideas, wedding vows, and wedding ideas.
Written by Jocelyn Sheltra; Contributor: Jack Leduc