How we pulled it off: A wedding on the Azores island with Jewish touches and a Swedish Fika ceremony

Johan's favorite memory of the wedding quotProbably Ariel walking the wrong way down the aisle and cursing pretty loud...

While the Azores are beautiful, they can be complicated to get to—particularly when guests are coming from Singapore and Australia in addition to the US and Europe, as Ariel and Johan’s group were. They tried to limit their loved ones’ stress on the front end by supplying tons of research. “I knew that as soon as we told people, a lot of them would panic,” Ariel says. On a massive email, “I included lots of details on flight information and routes, a big table that was like ‘If you’re coming from the US east coast, these are the best airlines. This is what you should do if you’re coming from Europe or London. If from Australia, look at this.’ I spent a lot of time on Google Flights.”

As a result, the couple didn’t field tons of queries from wayward guests, which is the last thing anyone wants when in the depths of wedding planning. “Because that was so detailed, I actually didn’t get that many questions from people outside of that,” Ariel says. 

What is Johan’s favourite memory from the wedding? “Probably Ariel going the wrong direction down the aisle and then cursing loudly when she realized.”

Alexandra Let/Muravnik Photography

Ariel explains that Ariel and her husband were aiming for “simple sophistication” as their aesthetic. 

Alexandra Let/Muravnik Photography

Get creative with your rehearsal dinner

Many guests extended their Azores stay because of the long distances they had to travel. The couple arranged four nights of events: a joint bachelor-bachelorette party on Wednesday night, welcome drinks on Thursday, and a rehearsal dinner on Friday before the Saturday wedding. The rehearsal dinner was held at Restaurant Anfiteatro, a gorgeous space perched above the bay of Ponta Delgada that happens to be an arm of the local culinary school, Escola de Formação Turística dos Açores.

“A lot of famous international chefs train at this school, so the food was amazing,” Ariel says. “We got so many compliments on the food, and it’s actually a really beautiful venue as well.”

Nod to the bride’s culture during the ceremony…

The couple’s ceremony was centered around the bride’s American Judaism. She instructed their florist, Jardim Campo, on creating the traditional chuppah for them to marry under, and Johan broke a glass at the close. The couple added their own personal touch to the seven blessings which are typically read as part of the wedding program. “Because there were so many people who were important to us who couldn’t make the big trip, for various reasons, we had seven of them [write] custom blessings, and those were read during the ceremony,” Ariel says. 

In another personal touch, Ariel’s brother officiated the ceremony and made sure to explain the traditions throughout; similarly, a Swedish “toastmaster” friend of Johan’s led guests through the customs of the reception. 

…and the groom’s during the reception. 

The party was awash with Swedish influences, beginning with the format. “We had the reception the ‘Swedish way,’ which basically means a multi-course dinner with a toastmaster coordinating speeches throughout,” Johan says. “It’s more of a fun dinner party, compared to more traditional American weddings, where you eat relatively quickly and then move onto dancing.”

A fika moment was also created during the cocktail hour. Fika is the Swedish custom of stopping to enjoy a hot beverage with a friend. “Traditional fika includes seven types of cookies or seven types of baked goods, so we did a fika that included foods from seven places that were meaningful in our life,” says Ariel. There were mini Scotch eggs for their new home in the UK; spicy samosas to represent their first trip together, to Fiji; bresaola with São Miguel cheese for their wedding location in the Azores; Girl Scout cookies from the US; and chocolate balls from Sweden, among others.

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