How we’re making a Swedish kissing tradition into a poly-friendly, queer-friendly wedding ritual

Guest post by Arielle Greenberg
How we're making a Swedish kissing tradition into a poly-friendly, queer-friendly wedding ritual
Morgan and Ryan's wedding had some EPIC kissing
Photo by Jesse Schafer

My fiancé and I hold ethical non-monogamy as one of the values at the core of our relationship. So we are determined to make sure that value is represented at our microwedding, and have been thinking about creative and subtle ways to incorporate it into our ceremonies and rituals.

Although our beloved friends and family know we’re not monogamous (and some of them aren’t, either!), we want everyone present to feel comfortable. We’re not looking to shock our guests, and we also want our weddings to be at least a little tasteful –we’re not throwing an orgy, after all (not on this particular date, anyway!). We also want to make sure that whatever we do at our wedding feels authentic to us, not appropriated or co-opted from another culture.

So imagine our delight when, while researching wedding customs traditional to our ethnic backgrounds (he’s half Italian and half Swedish; I’m Ashkenazi Jewish), we discovered that there actually exists a ritual that’s time-honored, joyful, culturally-specific, and non-monogamous. And it's even a little queer-friendly.

The Swedish kissing tradition.

Turns out that at Swedish weddings, it’s a thing that if either member of the couple leaves the other’s side, guests rush up to steal a kiss. If, say, the bride goes to the bathroom, guests might line up to kiss the groom. Traditionally, of course, this meant that male guests kissed the bride and female guests kissed the groom. But according to Stockholm wedding planner Mariella Rietschel Gink on the Swedish site The Local, “there’s almost always a male friend who also gets up to kiss the groom.” Sure, this is probably usually played off as a sweet-natured joke instead of actual gay delight, but why not capitalize on it? And why not make it more consensual, while we’re at it?

How we're making a Swedish kissing tradition into a poly-friendly, queer-friendly wedding ritual
A guest kissing the groom at SansOrigineFixe's wedding
Photo by David Pernot

The way we’ve decided to implement and personalize this tradition is to have our guests at our adults-only, legal, City Hall elopement form a U-shape in the room at the beginning of the ceremony. Our amazing officiant will let them know that we’re about to engage in an age-old wedding ritual practiced in my fiancé’s maternal ancestral homeland, Sweden. She’ll tell everyone that we are going to connect with everyone there — and that if anyone feels like kissing us at this time, they should feel free to, in accordance with Swedish custom. That they can even make out with us, if they like, and we consent to being kissed by everyone present.

Then we’ll walk around the U of guests in opposite directions (probably to the Don Henley/Stevie Nicks classic “Leather and Lace,” for reasons), hoping that our guests — some of whom have made out with us before — will choose to make out with us a little at our wedding. With any luck, my fiancé will get kissed by lots of cute girl-types and maybe some cute guy-types. With any luck, I’ll get kissed by nearly everyone (yay for a community full of bi/pan women!).

And even if some folks choose not to mack on us, we will still get a moment to stare into each other’s eyes, hold hands, share a laugh, and otherwise have a special second with each and every person who has chosen to be there for us on that day.

Nothing would make us happier. Skol, Sweden!

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Comments on How we’re making a Swedish kissing tradition into a poly-friendly, queer-friendly wedding ritual

  1. …it’s a Swedish tradition? It’s true that I ran into it on one of my partners’ wedding, but otherwise I’d never even heard of it, never experienced it, either before or after. I’m a Swede, having discussed the matter in confused tones with other Sweden-born people, so I might’ve missed this particular cultural export.
    Maybe it’s more a sort of overall Scandinavian thing? Or something that arose in recent years?

    I didn’t run up and kiss any of them during that wedding. It was that matter of “when the spouse is away you get to kiss the other one!” that is supposedly tradition (again – wait, it is?) and I was and am SUPREMELY uncomfortable with such non-open, behind-the-back behaviour. I like the way to do it as described above much much better – no sneaking or “when the cat’s away” or suchlike! Very inclusive and sweet!

    • Maybe they mean Danish 🙂 Here it’s definitely tradition. If the bride or groom forgets to go to the bathroom someone will remind them so the kissing rounds can begin. It’s very innocent and usually on the cheek.

      I went to a Danish-Canadian wedding once – there were some looks of surprise from the Canadian visitors when the bride left the room and half the women in the room went up to kiss the groom, who had been warned beforehand.

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