Norwegian Sunday: Bridal Crowns – Part II, Family Experience

I have told you before, in the Valentine Sweetheart series 2 years ago, and also in connection with the genealogical research I did on the parts of my family which emigrated to the US, about brides in my family wearing traditional Norwegian Bridal Crowns:

Wings of Whimsy: Pink Flowers Album Mat #vintage #ephemera #freebie #printable #valentine
Nils and Helge – Married 1898

This is my great grandparents on my fathers paternal side, Nils and Helge Bakke. For their wedding in 1898, when Helge was only 19 years old she wore one of the Nordfjord Crowns and Bridal attires still in use in my hometown of Hornindal today, the so called ‘Raftevoldpyntet’.

Their son Ola (my grandfather) and my grandmother Oddny were married in 1937, Oddny wore the same Bridal attire ‘Raftevoldpyntet’:

Wings of Whimsy: Die Cut Forget Me Not Album Mat #vintage #ephemera #freebie #printable #valentine
Oddny and Ola – Married 1937

My parents Gretha and Nils married in 1969, my mother was from the Trøndelag region of Norway, and chose to wear a regular white wedding gown:

Wings of Whimsy: Rose Album Mat #vintage #ephemera #freebie #printable #valentine
Gretha and Nils – Married 1969

When I myself got married in 1997, ‘Raftevold pyntet’ was not available for hire, but I borrowed another Bridal attire from Nordfjord, the so called ‘Rye pyntet’:

Wings of Whimsy: Gunnvor 1997

Wings of Whimsy: Gunnvor 1997
Gunnvor – Married 1997

I had 3 friends and my mother help me get dressed and properly adorned for my big day as a Crowned Bride. This is the beginning of the morning, when the crown was tied to my head with many, many thin strands of hair, it was completely locked to my head! I seem to remember this process alone took almost 2 hour!

Wings of Whimsy: Gunnvor 1997

Got to love the 1997 casual outfits!!! 😛Wings of Whimsy: Gunnvor 1997

I could bend over and lean back, jump, dance and tilt my head without the crown shifting. It was literally tied to my scalp 😀

Then my friend, the makeup artist, did her “magic”: totally au-naturelle make-up, of course:

Wings of Whimsy: Gunnvor 1997

My mother is ready to attach the red band at the base of the crown, to cover all the hair knots. This is the final piece, to complete the outfit. She is wearing a Trønder-bunad, this is the bunad I’m currently using, after I inherited it from her in 2007.

Wings of Whimsy: Gunnvor 1997

For a complete Nordfjord Bridal wear, there is also the special silk ribbon veil, the heavily adorned belt, and of course the bib, adorned with more silver jewelry, lace and several mirrors set in silver frames. According to local folk myths, the significance of the mirrors is said to be to keep tusse, troll and even the devil from stealing the bride on her wedding day. Should any of them try, they will burst when they see their own reflection in the mirrors! Just to be sure, there is even a tiny mirror in the back, used to secure the red band to the crown.

Wings of Whimsy: Gunnvor 1997

Removing even microscopic specs of dust and lint for a perfect finish 🙂
Wings of Whimsy: Gunnvor 1997

The special clothing worn by a Nordfjord bride is a red pleated long skirt of fine wool, with a black damask jaquard woven jacket and a snowy white linnen Bunad apron, usually with Hardanger embroidery. And of course traditional Bunad shoes to complete the Bridal outfit.

Wings of Whimsy: Gunnvor 1997

Everyone ready to leave my sisters tiny studio apartment, which we borrowed for the preparations. My front 2 friends in bunad from Sunnmøre, and my friend in the back in bunad from Nordmøre.

Here is another picture of the ‘Rye pyntet’ Bridal attire:

Wings of Whimsy: Traditional Norwegian Bridal Attire 'Rye pyntet'
Rye pyntet – Crown Anno 1660(?)

The Rye crown is made in solid, gilded silver, and according to historical transcripts it has been in the Rye family since 1660, although the design and appearance of the crown suggests it is from the same period as several of the other Nordfjord crowns (early 1800). We insured the crown for 100.000 kroner (about 11.800 USD/11.100 euro) for one week back in 1997, had it been lost or stolen it would of course have been irreplaceable!

Bridal Crowns are rarely sold, and if they are, they are listed as high end offers by the esteemed auction houses. They often end up in museums, and will likely never be sold again. A crown from Bergen yielded 340.000,- kroner in 2010. Another crown from Bergen was sold for 360.000 kroner in 2014, while a third crown from Sunnmøre sold for 220.000,- kroner in 2015.

Wings of Whimsy: Gunnvor 1997

200 years ago, very few families were able to buy a Bridal Crown, they were expensive even then. According to custom, the richest families would give the Bridal Crown and attire as part of the dowry with their daughter. But unlike other dowry, in Nordfjord the ownership of the Bridal Crown and attire would remain with the bride herself. She would offer it for hire to other, less fortunate families, for a fair price, and thus have a steady income to help with the household expenses, all her life, since everyone needed a Bridal Crown for their weddings. Unless the family had no daughters, the Bridal Crown and attire would normally follow the maternal line. The wooden storage box for the complete attire, called “krunebomme” would typically be beautifully carved and decorated, by the groom of the first bride to own it, and many of these storage boxes are still being used today.

I know of 25 Bridal Crowns from Nordfjord that are still around today. Author Bendik Os wrote about 24 of them in his 2013 book “Brudekroner fra Nordfjord”, and the 25th crown is in Norsk Folkemuseum in Oslo. Not all of them are complete attires anymore, with the other items to fully dress a traditional Norwegian Bride from the Nordfjord region. A complete attire should include also the bib, the belt, and the silk ribbon veil. The Nordfjord region has around 33.000 inhabitants, meaning the Bridal Crown ratio in Nordfjord is 1:1300.

Wings of Whimsy: Bridal Crowns from Nordfjord
17 of the Bridal Crowns from Nordfjord in 2005. Photo: Paul Sorenson

Hornindal is the smallest municipality of Nordfjord with 1.200 inhabitants, and is currently the home of 3 Bridal Crowns, making the current Bridal Crown Ratio 1:400 😀  Oskruna (depicted further below) also originates in Hornindal, meaning at one point there was actually 4 crowns in this very little town! A 5th crown from Hornindal, Svorkruna is mentioned, but I have not been able to find images of it. It is said to be in Kulturhistorisk Museum in Bergen, I will go look for it there, when I visit Bergen in May! It’s my “educated estimate” that these numbers place my hometown firmly in the middle of the Bridal Crown Tradition: I believe not many towns in Norway has a Bridal Crown density that compares to Hornindal…:-P

Here is a recent photo of the current 3 Bridal Crowns from Hornindal in Nordfjord. Raftevoldpyntet to the left is the one my Great Grandmother Helge and my Grandmother Oddny wore for their weddings:

Wings of Whimsy: All 3 Traditional Norwegian Bridal Crowns from Hornindal, Nordfjord - Raftevoldpyntet, Frislidpyntet & Slettebøpyntet. Photo from "Brudekroner fra Nordfjord" by Bendik Os.
All 3 Traditional Norwegian Bridal Attires from Hornindal, Nordfjord – Raftevoldpyntet (Anno 1805) , Frislidpyntet (Anno 1844) & Slettebøpyntet (Anno 1851). Photo from “Brudekroner fra Nordfjord” by Bendik Os. Copyright Svein Brimi

Here are two other bridal crowns from the Nordfjord region, you can see the similarities to the Rye Crown and the Raftevold crown:

Wings of Whimsy: Traditional Norwegian Bridal Crown from Nordfjord - Oskruna
Oskruna – Anno 1832
Wings of Whimsy: Traditional Norwegian Bridal Crown from Nordfjord - Norsk Folkemuseum
Crown from Nordfjord at Norsk Folkemuseum (Accession 1898)

I have plans for several more posts about Norwegian Bridal Crowns, Bunad traditions and other Norwegian traditions. I’ll be sharing these special posts on Sundays, so stay tuned for more Norwegian Sundays to come 😀 Coming up next Sunday is a Bridal Crowns Gallery.

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17 thoughts on “Norwegian Sunday: Bridal Crowns – Part II, Family Experience

    1. Thank you so much Angela! I really had a blast going through the images from my wedding, I have not looked at them for 16 years, since my husband and I went separate ways. Revisiting the memories now makes me remember all the good stuff, rather than the heartache of the break-up 😀

  1. Beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing the photos and history. My grandfather came to the US as a baby in 1887. Really interesting to learn about a tradition that I never new much about. You wore the crown beautifully!!

    1. Thank you Patty 🙂 I have not exhausted the topic of Norwegian Bridal Crowns, these are the typical crowns for the region I’m from, next Sunday I will share Bridal Crowns and Headdress from other regions of Norway too! So depending on where your grandfather came from, I’ll be able to tell you which tradition would be yours 🙂 Also: I know at least one of the Norwegian emigrant communities have a genuine Bridal Crown of their own, available for hire (in North Dakota I think) should any of you guys “over there” fancy a traditional Norwegian Wedding, for yourselves, or for family members 😉 xoxoxo

  2. Thank You for sharing your wonderful memories with all of us ! I LOVE your apron with the Hardanger Embroidery which I have done before 🙂
    PRICELESS traditions !

    1. Wow, I hear the Hardanger embroidery is very difficult, I never dared to try it… I have no patience with tiny projects…lol Thank you for the enthusiastic comment, I’m very happy to be one of very, very few Norwegian brides (even) to have worn traditional Bridal Wear, crown and all 😀 xoxoxo

  3. Just beautiful. You certainly must have felt like royalty! I can’t image having the crown TIED ON to my head, though!

    1. I did indeed feel like a Queen that day, and for many days after, with the beautiful pictures up on our walls. Such a pity they had to come down… I’ll be looking for an excuse now to use at least the solo-picture of me in some art project…lol

      Some of the crowns are not equally tightly tied onto the head, but I imagine that would be even worse, the crowns are quite heavy, and to just have ribbon tied under the chin for all those hours – my neck would certainly kill me…lol After all I did not have to worry about the crown, I could move freely, imagine it slipping from the head and fall smack onto the ground… :-O When I took my crown of around midnight, my neck was fine, but I did have a little bit of a headache, more on top of the head from the weight, if you know what I mean…;-)

  4. You were a beautiful bride! Your post is so interesting. I’ve seen these outfits, but never new anything about them. Thanks for the history lesson, I look forward to seeing more.

    1. Thank you Rose 🙂 There will be more details about the Traditional Norwegian Bridal wear coming up next Sunday. After all, this post really only covers one small region of Norway…lol Not that I plan to cover all regions equally well, but there is lots more information and imagery to share with ya’ll 🙂 xoxoxo

  5. Lovely story Gunnvor and you looked fabulous in your wedding attire. Don’t fancy the job of taking the crown off your hair though – that must have been painful!

    1. Thank you so much Margie 🙂 My mom and my two friends also helped take the crown off around midnight (after wearing it for about 14 hours). It was actually not so hard to undo, just unwrap the hair from the pins (if you zoom in on the early image where the crown is on, but before I put the dress on, you can see how the hair is wrapped 😉 My mom then made a beautiful braid that I wore the rest of the evening, for the dance and late night celebrations. xoxoxo

  6. Very interesting, I love very much to know traditions. I am from north of Italy, we also have a traditional dress. Thanks

    1. Thank you Teresa 🙂 It was a great honor at the time! In the 20 years to pass, I have not been to another wedding with a Crowned Bride, all my friends have chosen the regular white gowns! So it is also quite, quite rare, making it even more special and a lasting honor! Stay tuned for more to come about the Norwegian Bridal Traditions next Sunday 🙂 xoxoxo

  7. Gunnvor you look so very pretty in you bridal attire. I really enjoyed reading this post. Such wonderful traditions. You are so lucky to have ones that go back so very far
    Cheers from

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