Destination I Do
Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Sweet Swedish Wedding

Words by Courtney Kellar
Photos courtesy of Alicia Swedenborg

Melanie and Joakim are an NYC couple who have traveled to more than two dozen countries together! Their love of travel combined with Joakim’s Swedish heritage made a destination wedding the obvious choice for this longtime couple. “The most important thing to us was that all of our closest friends and family from both sides could attend,” says Melanie. “My friends and family are from the New York City area and his friends and family are from a small village in western Sweden…”

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The couple didn’t want either side of their families to have to spend too much money to meet in the middle, so choosing the central hub of Stockholm, Sweden was the perfect solution. “We didn’t want the guest list to be heavily skewed towards one side or the other,” says the bride. “Stockholm was actually the most convienent location for everyone – an easy, direct flight from NYC and a reasonable drive, train ride or one-hour flight for our Swedish guests. We had exactly 80 guests – 39 Swedes and 41 non-Swedes…which was exactly what we were going for!”

Joakim and Melanie dated for seven years before getting engaged, so their NYC friends couldn’t have been more excited to visit Sweden and see where the groom was from. As the couple put it, “Our friends are the best!”

While the couple’s wedding was absolutely breathtaking, largely thanks to their dramatic destination, it wasn’t without struggles. In fact, the couple went through two different wedding planners before finally finding the perfect fit just two months before the wedding! “The biggest issue was finding a wedding planner to help us out,” says the bride. “The care and precision to planning weddings in Sweden is not at the same level as what we American brides are used to. Planning from NYC with both of us working and with busy schedules – an organized, efficient and detail-oriented planner was essential.”

“We fired the first [Swedish planner] because she wasn’t very responsive and pushed back on us wanting to get things gone in advance.” The couple’s second planner committed to the project without realizing the scope of the wedding and later realized she couldn’t handle the job. In the end, the couple’s photographer and friend, Alicia Swedenborg, put the couple in touch with Jill LaFleur and Camilla Svensson Burns. “[It’s a] long story how a NYC-based couple getting married in Stockholm ended up with a California-based planner, but needless to say, it all worked out perfectly!”

The couple’s goal to create a convenient destination for all of their guests paid off with the beautiful city of Stockholm. “[Travel logistics were] super easy,” says the couple. “Stockholm has a high-speed train that goes from the airport to the city center in 15 minutes and the train station was only a five-minute walk from the hotel that most guests stayed at. Luckily, no one got lost! Stockholm is a beautiful, walkable, bikable ciry with lots to see and do – and lots of beautiful people as our single friends discovered!”

While the couple struggled to find a wedding planner who was a fit for them, they still describe the overall planning process as being great. “I think it helps that Joakim and I are extremely organized, yet laid back about styling details, which would have been difficult to control from abroad,” says Melanie. “We stayed organized with our vendors and regarding the logistics of the weekend, yet we didn’t stress over things like what our flowers or place settings would look like. I literally didn’t even know what my bouquet would consist of until it was delivered to my hotel!

The couple have a two-part plan to hosting the most wonderful destination wedding: have a wedding which celebrates your love and is the most meaningful for you, and always consider your guests’ experience. “Our guests all travelled a long way to share this occasion with us, so we wanted them to have a unique experience that they could not have gotten anywhere else. We chose a unique reception venue (even by Swedish standards) and a church with lots of history – older than America itself. We changed scenery by having the cocktail hour outside, the dinner in a glass tent, the dancing in a fortress, firedancers and late night eats back outside, then a party boat as an optional afterparty. Our guests said they were never bored, even though it was from 4pm-4am! A successful wedding is really all about the crowd having a great time!”

Vendors: Photography: Alicia Swedenborg, Wedding Planner: Jill LaFleur, Wedding Stylist: Camilla Svensson Burns Couture Floral and Event Design, Ceremony/Reception Sites: Maria Magdalena Church/Dalarö Skans, Florist: Bladverket, styling by Camilla Svensson Burns Couture Floral and Event Design, Stationery: Save the Dates and Invitations by Eastwind Creations & Escort Cards and Menus by Amy Sinclair Designs, Cake: Holy Sweet, Hair & Makeup: Denise Thorsmyr of Hair & Nu, Gown Designer: Reem Acra, Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo, Groom’s Clothing Designer: Custom suit by Lee Baron, Bridesmaids’ Clothing Designer: Amsale, DJ: Mikael Karlsson, String Quartet: Cosmo Stråkkvartet, Fire Dancers: Firetasia

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