After nearly losing Rachel’s luggage (because she forgot to continue wheeling it all the way to the front of the ticket line), sitting on the tarmack at Dulles airport for nearly 3 hours, and missing our connecting flight in Amsterdam, Rachel and I have arrived safely in Finland! And yes, Rach and I giggled endlessly over the suitcase mishap. We did not giggle at all about the tarmack situation.
Our Thursday-Friday travel felt like one very long day, and we were grateful to finally arrive at the Holiday Inn near the Helsinki/Vantaa airport Friday evening. Our hotel was just a hop, skip and a jump from where the wedding of our friend Heather would take place, and most of our first full day (Saturday) was devoted to Heather’s wedding.
While Finnish weddings are generally similar to American weddings, there are a few differences. Heather married in a church built in the 14th century – not many American brides have that claim to fame! The church was so popular for weddings that seven weddings were scheduled for that Saturday alone, and we had to keep things moving along or risk running into another wedding.
As the bridesmaids walked down the isle, each was escorted by a groomsman, and once the couples reached the front of the church, they separated to their respective sides to await the bride’s arrival at the front. As the bride came down the isle (escorted by her father, of course), the groom walked part way down the isle to meet them. Father and husband-to-be bowed to each other, and then husband-to-be escorted the bride the rest of the way down the isle.
The rest of the ceremony continued in both Finish and English, and yes, it is a little challenging to say the Lord’s prayer in English when you are trying to match tempo with those saying it in Finnish. One bridesmaid gave up entirely and began repeating “Watermelon, watermelon, orange, orange, watermelon…” so as to appear to say something in unison with everyone else.
The only other big difference between American and Finnish weddings is the wedding photographer. Fins do not have one. Instead, they take a formal picture of the bride and groom at some point after the wedding. However, since the bride in this wedding was American, friends and family (and I) stepped in to take lots and lots and lots of photos. And we made the American bridesmaids and Finnish groomsmen pose for all the usual wedding photos: groomsmen with bride, bridesmaids with groom, the whole bridal party together, etc. The Finnish groomsmen were a little confused by this, and we had to keep rounding them back up whenever they were needed in a photo. At least there were only three of them!
All in all, the wedding was quite lovely, followed by an equally lovely reception featuring reindeer salad, meatballs, chicken, green salad, bread, cheese, yummy cake and other good things. And as a true tea lover, I have been thrilled to find tea everywhere on this trip! Europeans know tea, and I love them for it.
To top off the busy wedding day, the happy couple prepared to head for their honeymoon in Rome, and two of the bridesmaids and I setted down to enjoy the sauna at the hotel. Finland is know for saunas. Who knew?!?
Today (Sunday), Rachel and I started the vacation portion of our trip to Finland. We explored Helsinki a bit, and then found our way (by plane) to the Aland Islands this evening. So far on this vacation, Rachel and I have a system in place: she reads the map, I talk to everyone and ask questions and get information, and it’s working out pretty well so far.
And would you believe it’s 11:30 at night here in Finland, and it’s still light outside? Finland is seven hours ahead of the eastern part of the U.S. (where Rach and I live), and during this part of the summer, it’s light every day until about 1 am. I don’t know what time the sun comes up yet, but I’m pretty sure I’ll figure that out on my last day when I get up at 4 am for my flight back home. In some parts of northern Finland, the sun never sets in the summer. The temperature also never seems to go particularly high: roughly 50s-60s (in Farenheit, I’m not an expert on Celsius yet).
At any rate, that’s enough for now. With the sun still coming in my window, I need to find some way to convince myself that it’s time to sleep. Good night!