Join me for an elegant summer wedding Grand Hôtel in downtown Stockholm. Stockholm is my hometown and no place I’d rather be during the magic summer months. This elegant Nigerian-Swedish summer wedding where the city meets nature was such an extraordinary event, and my darling couple, Sara and Visiri, was a delight to work with.
Sara and Visiri showed as much as possible of the beautiful city of Stockholm during the 3-day event. They treated their guests to a boat ride around Stockholm and a rehearsal dinner at Rosendals Trädgårdar.
The wedding ceremony was traditional and held in the gothic revival architecture church Oscar’s Kyrkan. The couple chose this church because of its beauty, perfect location, and near distance to the reception at Grand Hôtel.
The Grand Hôtel opened the doors to guests in 1874, and ever since then has it been a resort to the stars, the royals, and the glitz and glam. Grand Hotel sits just across from the Palace and has a spectacular view over the many waterways. And over Old Town too. Naturally, this was the number one choice for my clients as they welcomed 220 guests for their downtown Stockholm nuptials.
Read more from the lovely bride below. She talks a bit more in-depth about planning a destination wedding in Stockholm, and she has some great advice you all don’t want to miss.
Ps. Swedish peeps, scroll down!! The surprise of the evening was Doctor Alban – live on stage!
From the Bride:
We got married in the gorgeous city of Stockholm during the warm and summery of August. Stockholm is where I am from and where most of my family lives. My husband is British/Nigerian, and the Nigerian tradition says that the marriage shall take place in the bride’s village.
We choose Stockholm partly because of that (although not a village), but perhaps more because of our love for it, Stockholm is such a beautiful city! We wanted to show the Nigerian and the British side of the family where the groom is from. Incorporation the Swedish culture, nature where the bride is from. It was a great success! We did explore several other venues, including castles. But a limiting factor was that the Nigerian side of our family is significant, especially for Swedish standards.
Most alternative venues had ‘limited’ capacities of about 70 or 80 guests. The Grand Hôtel was our given venue. Not only because it could accommodate 220 guests, which we required, but for its fantastic situation by the waterfront opposite the Royal Castle. We had more than half of the guests flying in, so we wanted to have our wedding in a convenient location by the water and to elegant and timeless and yet taking travel and distance into consideration.
I love horses. So to include horses in one way or another was part of making the wedding personal and us! To balance the whole horse and carriage transport from church, we arrived at the reception in a classic vintage car — one of the groom’s favorites. The guests enjoyed boat rides around the city and explored the Swedish cuisine, nightclubbing, botanical gardens. Combined with the overall feeling, the city vibes as a vast culture and music festival was taking place in Stockholm during the wedding weekend.
We had the wedding ceremony in the afternoon as we wanted to have a reception followed by an evening dinner. The time of the wedding ceremony determined the options for the dress code, at least if following the British and Swedish etiquette. This is important to bear in mind when planning your wedding day. We didn’t want guests to have to change after the wedding ceremony. Therefore we had black-tie optional as dress code.
The sunset in Stockholm at this time of the year is around 8.30 pm. So later, during the dinner, we sneaked out to take some additional photos by the waterfront. As you may know, during early summer in Sweden, it never gets dark in the night. But late August it does so we were lucky!
I loved my large and wild drop-shaped bouquet. Even though at times heavy to carry. It had various types of English roses, scabiosa, eucalyptus, and cosmos flowers. My cousin is a fantastic florist, and she helped us with all our flower arrangements.
We incorporated a few ethnic traditions and customs from Nigeria in our celebrations. Before starting the dinner, my husband’s aunts sang a lovely song in the Yoruba language, which is one of many languages spoken in Nigeria. We also received prayers and blessings from our Nigerian side of the family before sitting down, starting the dinner.
A fun Swedish tradition, that was entirely new for many of our guests, was when either the groom or bride go to the bathroom; all guests of the opposite sex line up to kiss the bride/groom, which resulted in a lot of laughter when I went to the bathroom! A common thing for Sweden is to have multiple planned and precisely scheduled speeches, and our wedding was no exception.
The Swedish/Senegalese band Sousou and Maher Cissoko played during cocktail hour. They have a kora duo band, and the kora is often referred to as “the African harp.” Sousou and Maher are not only incredible artists and musicians. They also symbolize the two parts we wanted to bring together: Scandinavia and West Africa.
Our reception dinner was in the Grand Hôtel Hall of Mirrors, which is a magnificent ballroom decorated in gold, white and red. The room has four large mirror doors on either side, beautiful ceiling paintings, and two giant chandeliers with gold-coated arms.
We had a dance group performing after our wedding waltz. They did a choreography mixing Caribbean- and African songs. It was a great hit, and the audience was thrilled! Apart from that, we had the artist, Dr. Alban, as a “secret guest” coming in. Everyone knows his music and when he sang “Sing Hallelujah” and “Its My Life” we through the roof would fly off the building! Even all the old aunties and uncles were up dancing at this moment!
Another surprise for us was a tribute to the dancehall/reggae artist Roshaun Clarke (more known as Bay-z from T.O.K) performed. Roshaun is a friend to us, a producer, writer, and singer and also married to one of our bridesmaids. His performance with plenty of good energy was much appreciated in the late hours! Guests are still of today talking about it.
The best idea of having a destination wedding in Stockholm was to be able to unite our families and us memorable. To involve small details and put together traditions from both cultures in a remarkable place. This was the red thread running through the entire planning process. An example was to put handmade arts and crafts from both countries into the goodie bags as a memory.
Our best advice to future brides and grooms of destination weddings is to consider the distance to the destination and the costs of getting there. If too far away, it may limit the number of guests coming (which can be both good and bad depending on what you are looking for). We had a website with all the helpful and vital information. Our most important advice would be to find a good wedding planner. To make sure the wedding planner understands the full scope of your wedding. Both from a local perspective but also even more important to be experienced in handling foreign guests. This means everything from using modern admin tools and level of written language, to understand the extra services needed by guests visiting a country for the first time.
One of the many beautiful memories of the wedding was when we said the vows and exchanged rings. But also when we went by horse and carriage to the photoshoot destination. It was a ride of 20-30 minutes. My sweet sisters had packed together with a basket of sweeties, snacks, water to drink, and a bottle of champagne for us to celebrate! This was a wonderful time for us to enjoy what just had happened (we were married!!). We could relax a little, see the beautiful city on that day. Everyone on the streets greeted us, waved at us, and wished us all the best. This is a delightful memory! Much recommended as the day otherwise passes so fast. It is good to schedule a little time for just quality time together.
If we are allowed to say one more thing, it would be our first dance. We had practiced the waltz long before the wedding, and both were a little nervous if we would remember the choreography. And if we could make all the steps we had practiced as I would be wearing my wedding gown. But, it felt like a dream, we nailed it, and our guests and family were overjoyed to see this.
It was great fun to work with you, Isabelle! The portraits session, despite the wind/storm by the ocean, everything went very well! We fully trusted you. It was sweet of you to help us with ideas of “poses”: how to hold hands, so rings are shown, and a little bit where to stand or where to look. It helped really! Me (the bride) especially enjoyed having Isabelle in the hotel room when getting ready as she is just super cool and created a relaxed atmosphere. I also would like to add that my mother complimented you for dressing nicely and suitable for the occasion, which she found necessary to “blend in” among the guests and not stand out as the “camera team.”
Isabelle is extremely time-efficient and is 120% professional, and she doesn’t compromise on the quality. She stuck to the stressful program and was a fantastic problem solver!
Venue Grand Hôtel | Floral design Trendfloristerna | Bridal Gown & Veil Ida Lanto | Bride’s Shoes Ted Baker London | Groom’s Attire Ozwald Boateng | Bridesmaids Dresses Sofia Moore | MUA In Care Of Anna | Entertainment Doctor Alban & Sousou & Maher Cissoko kora band | Videographer Rickard Croy Media | Invitations The Wedding Store | Coordination Services Fest & Bröllopsagenturen
Here are a few more weddings I have photographed that I think you would like.
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2 BRIDES PHOTOGRAPHY 2020