Let one of last year’s sharpest celebrations inspire your own big day

Edited by: Millie Milliken   Photos: Joanna Bongard

2017 SquareMeal Weddings Your weddings Made in Norway - credit joanna bongard

Thom and Silje threw an epic prawn party in Oslo for their big day – bibs and all

In Norway, they say there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. On the day of our wedding it was one or two degrees below zero in Oslo, and the weather didn’t look promising. Thom and I had been hoping for snow but were afraid it would rain. Happily, it didn’t – and then we had a nicely timed surprise later on, so it turned out very well. As we were getting married in February, outerwear was quite a fun consideration. We wore our finest winter coats with matching Barbour scarves to tie our outfits together.

2017 SquareMeal Weddings Your weddings Made in Norway - credit joanna bongard

I’m a costume maker and, though I tried to resist the idea, I ended up making my own wedding dress. I used vintage clothing as inspiration and based it on an original Edwardian dress I bought from Adored Vintage. Thom chose a separate jacket and trousers for his suit, which was a really good way of being formal while individualising what he was wearing. He also wore a western bow tie, which was surprisingly difficult to source in Norway. 

2017 SquareMeal Weddings Your weddings Made in Norway - credit joanna bongard

We wanted to get married in a pub – to make the ceremony more intimate and to have a bit of the UK with us on the day. We chose our old local, which we used to go to when we first moved to Norway three years ago. It’s called Katedralen (The Cathedral), which was quite funny as we actually had a civil ceremony. Decor-wise, we kept things very stripped back, and just used candles. The pub in itself was the main decoration. It even has a pulpit.

2017 SquareMeal Weddings Your weddings Made in Norway - credit joanna bongard

We found our reception venue, Kavakava, thanks to a colleague’s recommendation. It was perfect – just three minutes from the pub. We always wanted to have a prawn party as our meal, which meant doing it in winter, when fresh prawns are at their best. The day was based around the idea of throwing the best party possible and keeping it ‘koselig’, which means cosy and intimate, rather than grand. We gave everyone a pair of wool socks for cold toes and tired dancing feet. 

2017 SquareMeal Weddings Your weddings Made in Norway - credit joanna bongard

We needed bibs to protect guests’ clothes when peeling prawns – it can get messy. We ended up designing the bibs with a hand-painted prawn print on one side, then used the other side as a name plate that could hang over a chair. All seats had a menu with instructions on how to peel a prawn. Thom’s best man and his wife run a stationery design company (Telegramme Paper Co), and they kindly made the menu and its guide.

Traditionally, at a Norwegian wedding, speeches take place throughout the day, with a toastmaster in control of any contributions during the dinner. This means the meal and speeches can take quite a bit longer than at British weddings. 

2017 SquareMeal Weddings Your weddings Made in Norway - credit joanna bongard

My older brother had the role of toastmaster, and was very entertaining. He even made a huge cardboard prawn to demonstrate how to peel a one. Thom got a comic-book illustration of himself by Anthony Hope-Smith as a gift a while ago, so we contacted him to make one for me as well. Then we got the illustrated characters printed up as full-size figures with the faces cut out for photos.

2017 SquareMeal Weddings Your weddings Made in Norway - credit joanna bongard

Thom made us a triple-layered Guinness chocolate wedding cake – again, something grand wasn’t a priority to us. Lots of our friends provided cakes as well, and we bought a vegan one from Funky Fresh Foods. For our night food we ordered way too many pizzas from Loftus Samvirkelag, which without question does the best pizza in Oslo. We also ordered stir-fry takeaway from Tunco for our vegan and gluten-free guests.

Highlight of the day

Thom During my wedding speech, as I was getting to the emotional bit, Silje shouted, ‘It’s snowing!’ I couldn’t really better that moment – we’d been hoping for snow all day, and it finally came. 

Silje Walking into Katedralen and seeing all our friends and family gathered together in one pub. When does that ever happen?

Suppliers

Bride’s dress Whaleys Bradford, Solstiss fabrics
Groom’s suit Ralph Lauren jacket, Samsoe & Samsoe trousers
Groom’s bow tie Swagger & Swoon
Flowers Mina Milanda, Cot2tot, Plantasjen
Catering Essens Catering, Funky Fresh Foods, Lofthus Samvirkelag, Tunco
Entertainment DJ Line Goodnight

More photos

2017 SquareMeal Weddings Your weddings Made in Norway - credit joanna bongard

2017 SquareMeal Weddings Your weddings Made in Norway - credit joanna bongard

2017 SquareMeal Weddings Your weddings Made in Norway - credit joanna bongard


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This article was first published in SquareMeal Weddings 2017