Ice Church in Swedish Lappland offers white winterland wedding
Shivering more from excitement than cold, a bride in white silk and fur blends with the background as she and her groom tied the know at Sweden's Ice Church. Each year, 140-150 couples from as far away as Japan and Singapore are drawn to the icy uniqueness of the Jukkasjaervi church for their wedding, according to local wedding coordinator Eva Lundquist. See picturesUpdated: Feb 13, 2009 11:21 IST
Shivering more from excitement than cold, a bride in white silk and fur blends with the background as she and her groom tied the know at Sweden's Ice Church.
"It was like a fairytale, a very powerful feeling," 27-year-old Charlotte Axelsson-Andersson said after the ceremony.
She and her new husband, Daniel Andersson, 32, decided to make the 1,560-kilometre (970-mile) trip from their home town of Oskarshamn in southeastern Sweden to the small Lappland village of Jukkasjaervi because they were seeking "a unique and special place for the wedding," Charlotte said.
"We looked into a number of different options, like going to the West Indies, but there are beaches in lots of different
places. Then we got to thinking about the Ice Church and it just felt more unique," she said.
The chapel, a small dome made entirely of hard-packed snow and crystal-clear blocks and sculpted pieces of ice, sits next to Sweden's famous Ice Hotel in Jukkasjaervi, some 145 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle.
Each year, 140-150 couples from as far away as Japan and Singapore are drawn to the icy uniqueness of the Jukkasjaervi church for their wedding, according to local wedding coordinator Eva Lundquist.
"I think it's becoming more and more popular with winter weddings because of the pure whiteness of it," she said, adding that about half of all couples who tie the knot here are Swedish, while some 90 percent of foreigners come from Britain.
The Ice Church and neighbouring Ice Hotel, where guests can choose to sleep in simple rooms with just a bed sculpted out of ice or in suites where ice-sculpted beds, chairs and decorations are created by a variety of different artists, has had a very successful marketing campaign in Britain, Lundquist said.
Charlotte and Daniel spent one night at the frosted hotel before their wedding.
"That was a cold experience," Charlotte said. "Outside it was minus 17 (degrees Celsius, or 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit) and inside minus five. You really had to lie deep inside your sleeping bag and you really didn't want to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom."
The chapel too is constructed anew each December by different artists, using ice from an adjacent ice factory to create a frozen house of God that lasts around five months depending on the weather before it is left to melt away.
This year, Dutch artists Marjolein Vonk and Cindy Berg have created the dome.
Its doors -- two large slabs of translucent ice covered with reindeer skins and with reindeer antlers for door handles -- open to disclose an enchanted forest of sculpted snow branches bathed in an eery blue light.
The branches, or perhaps the antlers of dozens of reindeer, suddenly part to reveal a pulpit, baptismal font and even suspended candle holders all sculpted out of clear, blue-tinted ice.
At Charlotte and Daniel's wedding in January, 32 guests filled the pews, made of solid blocks of ice covered with reindeer skins, as temperatures inside dipped to minus five degrees Celsius.
"We weren't all that cold actually. I guess we were too excited," Charlotte said, pointing out that she wore knit wool stockings and ski socks under her silk Mignon gown for the 25-minute ceremony.
While setting up travel and sleeping arrangements so far from home for all the guests was a challenge, Charlotte said "the most difficult thing to plan for was the clothing".
"I had a lot of trouble finding the fake fur to go with my dress, and deciding on shoes was really difficult. There are not that many warm white boots that go with a wedding dress," she said.
"And we had no idea how cold it would be. It wasn't that cold for our ceremony, but it could easily have been minus 30 (degrees Celsius) if we had been unlucky. The problem was not knowing."
First Published: Feb 13, 2009 09:56 IST