But Sweden still has more people living together outside of marriage than most countries in Scandinavia, according to Statistics Sweden. The majority of people who get married today have already lived together and many of them also have children. 69% of Swedish-born women and men who married in 2008 chose the man’s surname. Swedes have had the right to civil marriages since 1863, and the country was among the first to allow civil partnerships for homosexuals, which gave them rights similar to those of a married couple. In 2009 that law was repealed to give way for gender-neutral marriages. Many couples opt out of marriage altogether, registering themselves as ‘sambo’, that is, partners living together. Others refer to themselves as ‘särbo’, a term used to describe a couple with romantic ties that doesn’t live together.

The traditional way
But despite having many options, in a country that is open-minded and often at the forefront of change, many Swedes still prefer to get married the traditional way — in church. Sofia Boij, editor of the Bridal Magazine Group’s “Bröllopsmagasinet” says that 76% of the magazine’s readers choose to marry in a church. “Many Swedes like the thought of a traditional wedding and all that accompanies it: a white wedding dress, a bouquet with roses, a big wedding cake and a church wedding.” Most Swedes tend to use the church when it suits them, from baptisms and marriages to end of school term celebrations. Many value the church for its atmosphere and sense of tradition rather than as a house of religion. Boij says: “For many, the church is a beautiful place to claim eternal love in, whether a person is religious or not.” But Tuulikki Koivunen Bylund, minister and dean of Uppsala Cathedral, says that the ceremony is indeed a religious one, and at least one of the pair has to be a member of the Lutheran Church of Sweden. She believes that many people feel they “need the blessing of a higher power” when important things, like weddings, happen. “I also think that many couples want to keep this tradition alive,” she adds.

More on marriage in Scandinavia: http://www.nordicreach.com/its_about/lifestyle/135/