Created by potrace 1.10, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2011
Created by potrace 1.10, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2011
LGBTQ+ Weddings in Denmark – But Why Is Denmark So Popular?
Photo Credit: Martina Lanotte

Photo Credit: Martina Lanotte

LGBTQ+ Weddings in Denmark – But Why Is Denmark So Popular?

Getting Married in Denmark is a popular choice for couples from all over the world and is also one of Europe’s – if not the world’s – top destinations for LGBTQ+ couples to get married. 

Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t a number of other pretty fabulous wedding destinations in this big wide world we live in where you as an LGBTQ+ couple can go to get married, and let’s face it, probably a bit warmer too! 😉

But here at Getting Married in Denmark, we think Denmark is the perfect place to choose for your LGBTQ+ wedding and we want to show you why! 

Denmark’s forward thinking approach is at the forefront of Denmark’s identity, is a huge source of pride for the Danes and a beacon of hope and light for those who sadly live in countries where equality and rights simply do not exist for those within the LGBTQ+ community. 

So, we want to celebrate and rejoice Pride and all things LGBTQ+. 

Want to jump past the history and just get to know why Denmark is the easiest country for foreign LGBTQ+ couples to get married? 

Then jump to the bottom of this article and find out why – and importantly how! 

Want to know all the nitty gritty details, then keep on reading! 😉

70 Years of LGBTQ+ Danish History

LGBTQ+ Weddings in Denmark - But Why Is Denmark So Popular? - Getting Married in Denmark
Photo Credit: Kim K Sørensen of Woodland Diaries

So where did it all begin for LGBTQIA+ rights in Denmark?

You might think it started back when same sex couples could officially become registered partners in 1989 but no, it goes back much, much further than this. The fight for gay rights began in Denmark in the 1930s, when sex between two adult men was decriminalised.

Following this in 1948, and inspired by the UN’s ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’, The Forbundet af 1948 (League of 1948) was formed.

The League of 1948 was a group set up by a man called Axel Axgil and its purpose was to form an alliance of people who were in solidarity with gay and bisexual people; to lobby for gay rights as well as to offer help and support with any problems or difficulties that gay and bisexual people might encounter.

Through the following few decades The League of 1948 membership grew and it continued to challenge the boundaries and prejudices in place for the LGBTQ+ community in Denmark.

Then in the 1960s the Stonewall Inn riots in New York marked the start of a revolution in the struggle for gay liberation around the world. To mark this incredible fight for equal rights, these revolutionary riots are remembered and celebrated every year with what we all know as Pride.

The Danish government began to really sit up and take notice and this started to filter through the new legislations being made for gay rights.

To name just a few of the important milestones that have taken place over the years…

  • 1930s – Sex between two adult men was decriminalised.
  • 1940s – The League of 1948 was formed.
  • 1950s – The world’s first successful gender modification operation took place.
  • 1980s – Discrimination laws were altered to include sexual orientation were first brought in in the 1980s, further being built upon and expanded in the 1990s.
  • 1989 – Registered partnerships for same sex couples were made legal.

Rather beautifully and poetically, Axel Axgil and his partner of 40 years Eigil Axgil were one of the first couples to legally have a registered partnership in Denmark, alongside 10 other same sex couples.

  • 2010 – Gay couples are given the same adoption rights as same sex couples.
  • 2012 – Gender neutral marriage is made legal.
  • 2022 – There is still work to be done to improve LGBTQ+ inclusivity by Denmark’s government… to name just one example, it’s not clear how protected the rights of LGBTQ+ asylum seekers are. BUT, so much positive work has been done in Denmark in the last 90 years for LGBTQ+ rights, and this can only keep on growing, expanding and evolving.

These were all huge moments for the LGBTQ+ community as Denmark firmly cemented its role as a model for gay rights around the world!

What is Pride?

LGBTQ+ Weddings in Denmark - But Why Is Denmark So Popular? - Getting Married in Denmark
Photo Credit: Martina Lanotte

Pride started over 50 years ago, in New York City, USA. As is sadly often the way with revolutions, it started with fear, violence and pain from oppressors. And a burning desire for those at the receiving end to rise up and fight to end it.

You may well have heard of the Stonewall riots? When the police raided a bar called The Stonewall Inn in a gay area of New York twice in one week, resulting in violent homophobic beatings of those inside the bar. 

The police regularly raided gay bars in the area and this second raid of the The Stonewall Inn set light to a rage within the gay community and the Stonewall riots began. 

People all over the world sat up and took notice, joining in with demonstrations and raising awareness for the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community. And thus Pride was born and is now celebrated worldwide.

Pride in Denmark

LGBTQ+ Weddings in Denmark - But Why Is Denmark So Popular? - Getting Married in Denmark
Photo Credit: Martina Lanotte

Denmark’s Pride celebrations take place in August. It is called Copenhagen Pride, is held throughout the city of Copenhagen and sees the majority of the city transformed into a hub of LGBTQIA+ celebrations, performances, education and information. 

Because of Denmark’s rich and inclusive history with gay rights and equality, the celebrations in Denmark are huge. Freedom and human rights often find themselves to be at the forefront of the festival’s point of focus and, oh my goodness, do we do Pride well?! 

The colours of the Rainbow Flag adorn the city, from flag poles, walls, hanging out of windows, on bumper stickers, you name it, Copenhagen shows its Pride off with conviction and, well, pride!

As well as being surrounded by colours and music, you will be educated and occasionally shocked. But then, inequalities and injustice are still highly prevalent around the LGBTQ+ community and it is always shocking.

Why is Denmark the Easiest Country for Foreign LGBTQ+ Couples to Get Married?
LGBTQ+ Weddings in Denmark - But Why Is Denmark So Popular? - Getting Married in Denmark

Denmark is very well known as being one of the easiest countries for foreign couples to get married, no matter your background, circumstances, history, sexuality, race or religion.

More than 15,000 couples travel to Denmark every single year to get married here and there are several reasons as to why this is. 

The amount of documentation that is required from couples is extremely slim compared to the documentation that is required in a lot of other countries. 

For example, birth certificates are not required and it’s possible to get married here with just a tourist Visa (for those travelling from countries where a Visa is required).

The bureaucratic process is also very straightforward. There is one central government department that processes marriage application requests and this ‘Agency of Family Law’ (the AFL for short) aims to respond to all applications within 5 working days of an application being submitted.

This is no mean feat when you consider they are handling up to 15,000 marriage applications every year!! 

The wedding industry in Denmark is geared towards welcoming huge numbers of couples each year. There are florists, bakeries, photographers, hair & make up and more. These are all services that are provided to make sure that couples experience the very best of Denmark during their elopement.

On top of all this, Denmark is an incredible country for a great many reasons. It is full of culture, history, amazing places to see / things to do and we think one of the most important things that makes it such an amazing place to visit is its people. 

The Danish and those that choose to reside here are open, warm, kind and welcoming to ALL and for anyone getting married in Denmark, but especially for LGBTQ+ couples, we truly believe a wedding here will hold a special place in your heart for the rest of your lives. 

What does an LGBTQ+ marriage in Denmark involve?
LGBTQ+ Weddings in Denmark - But Why Is Denmark So Popular? - Getting Married in Denmark
Photo Credit: Elena Belevantseva

As an LGBTQ+ couple, you will be required to go through exactly the same process as any couple wanting to get married here. 

You will need to make sure you have the correct documentation ready and in order before making your application. Once you have all your documentation in order, you will be required to make your marriage application to the Agency of Family Law who will assess your documentation before approving your application for marriage. 

Once you have received your approval you are then able to book your ceremony with the town hall of your choice. 

The process is, compared to many other countries around the EU and beyond, very simple and this is why, alongside Denmark’s positive & rich LGBTQ+ history, Denmark has become such a hugely popular destination for LGBTQ+ couples from all over the world.

Here at Getting Married in Denmark we have helped a great many LGBTQ+ couples organise their wedding in Denmark. As an agency firmly rooted in the wedding community here, we are extremely dedicated to the role we have in helping each and every one of our couples. We have helped over 5000 couples since 2014, all with a rich variety of backgrounds and circumstances from all over the world and we would love to help you! 

If you’d like to know more about a wedding in Denmark at any time of the year and at any location, what documents would be required from you or even just to ask a few questions about how the process works, please do get in touch with us, we would be delighted to hear from you.

No matter where you were born or where you live, getting married is, for the most part, a huge life event that calls for much celebration!

Given Denmark is The Easiest Country in Europe for Foreign Couples to get Married, here at GMiD, we are constantly excited to see that this results in so many multicultural and multinational couples coming here to celebrate their love for each other! Each couple bringing with them their own requirements of ‘must have’ wedding day traditions.

We thought, because so many couples come to Denmark every year to get married, it would be great to explore some of the more common traditions that you’ll find surrounding a Danish wedding, so maybe you can decide for yourself if you’d like to integrate some of them into your Danish wedding adventure…. :-)

What Happens in the Lead up to a Traditional Danish Wedding?

Photo Credit: Protea Weddings

Prior to a traditional wedding in Denmark, there are a few customs that are likely to take place before the wedding goes ahead! ;-)

Asking For Hand In Marriage

A very ‘old school’ / old fashioned Danish wedding custom, that goes back a long way, and is actually a tradition that spans many countries and cultures, is asking the father of the bride for his daughter’s hand in marriage. 

This is often seen as a way of showing respect for your [hopefully] soon to be father-in-law! If he says yes, that is… In Danish it is called: Anmode om datterens hånd.

The Engagement Ring

Photo Credit: Protea Weddings

So, if the proposal was a success, then you are officially engaged – Congratulations! 

Danish tradition states that the engagement ring should be placed on the left ring finger. This is due to a vien that runs from the fourth finger on the left hand directly into the heart, thus earning itself the name ‘The Vein of Love’. 

This is another custom that is not only seen as a Danish wedding tradition but a tradition of many other Western countries too.

The Night Before The Wedding

A very common Danish wedding custom is that the couple should not sleep together in the same bed, or even see each other for that matter, the night before the wedding. 

This is not seen to be ‘proper’ and could even potentially be viewed as bad luck. In Denmark, the custom here states the brides stay with their bridesmaids and the grooms stay with their family or friends the night before the big day!

Æresport (or ‘Gate of Honour’ in English)

This is a very traditional Danish wedding custom (and is probably my favourite) whereby the family, friends, loved ones of the couple get together secretly the evening before the wedding and go to the soon-to-be-married couple’s house  (although some decide to go to the wedding venue or place of the wedding reception). 

They make a ‘port’ around the main door into the house of, traditionally, flowers and tree cuttings such as spruce, but can often include things personal to that couple. So, for example, if one of the couple is a teacher, the port would also include things like pencils or rulers! 

It is designed to bring the couple luck in their married lives together but also to let the whole neighbourhood know that there is something to be celebrated.

There is an additional ‘fun’ twist to this tradition though, as after the couple’s friends have made the port, they go into the house and create a mess, or what is more affectionately known as a ‘gentle ravage’! This includes throwing of toilet paper around the house, messing up cutlery draws – silly things like this! 

GMiD’s Mie is still finding dried rice in her draws, 4 years after her wedding! ;-) Rather sweetly, the tradition of making the port around the couple’s doorway is repeated again on the couple’s 12.5 year anniversary (copper wedding), their 25th wedding anniversary (silver wedding) and 50 year anniversary (golden wedding)!

The Day of the Traditional Danish Wedding

Photo Credit: Protea Weddings

The day of the wedding has arrived! It’s a very happy day indeed. There is a buzz in the air surrounding each half of the couple, getting ready, laughing with bridesmaids, hugs with family and friends. This is where in Denmark, the wedding traditions really start to get underway….

The Guests Wedding Clothes

There are actually a few unwritten rules that must be adhered to when it comes to what clothes you should wear when attendance at a Danish wedding. 

Firstly, It would be considered really rather rude if any of the female guests in attendance at your wedding in Denmark arrived wearing white. This colour is reserved for the bride alone!

Also, customarily, it didn’t used be the done thing to wear black either, as black used to be very much associated with grief and being in a state of mourning – not very ‘weddingy’ at all! 

However, these days, black is a very popular choice for outfits and it is said that if you want to wear black at a wedding, it would be courteous to check with the bride first – just to make sure it’s ok.

Lastly, gents, this one is for you… You absolutely must not attend the wedding as a guest in clothes that are ‘finer’ than the clothes the groom is wearing. So for example – if the groom is wearing a suit and tie, you should not show up in a top hat and tails! ;-)

The Order in Which Everyone Arrives

It is customary at a Danish wedding that the groom must always arrive first. 

Once he arrives, he must stand at the front of the room, before all the guests while he awaits his beloved! 

Following on from this, the bride should arrive last. Last, but hopefully not late! ;-) 

So, let’s set the scene… it’s a windy autumnul day, the guests and the groom all patiently await the brides arrival. 

A gust of wind blows the venue doors open, the groom turns around and there stands his bride, dress and veil blowing in the wind! Romantic huh?! Also, the sort of thing you only really see in films! :-)

The Brides Father Accompanies Her Down The Aisle

This is another old tradition, one that is not only seen in Denmark, and is sometimes called ‘giving the bride away! 

She is no longer to be looked after by her father, as he passes on this responsibility to his soon to be son-in-law.

Throwing Rice

Photo Credit: Protea Weddings

In Denmark, the throwing of rice is a symbol of fertility and so ensuring the newlywed couple are showered in rice as they leave their wedding ceremony is a way of hopefully seeing them blessed with the gift of children.

The Ceremony is Over and it’s Time to Celebrate - Danish Style!

So the REAL Danish wedding traditions really start to shine at the post wedding ceremony celebrations, naturally! Let’s face it, the Danes know how to party! 

Some of these traditions are firmly routed in Danish wedding celebrations and wouldn’t be considered a ‘proper’ Danish wedding without them!

The Cutting of the Wedding Cake

Photo Credit: Protea Weddings

There are a few different styles of wedding cake that you might come across at a Danish wedding. One type is called ‘Kransekage’ (this translates as wreath cake) and is made up of almond paste rings. 

Another choice though is a cornucopia shaped cake called ‘Overflødighedshorn’ (which translates as horn of plenty). This is also almond based!

The most popular though is the ‘classic’ style wedding cake which is tiered. In the case of the tiered cake, the couple will keep the top tier of their cake to eat together on either their first wedding anniversary, or in some cases the baptism of their first child.

Whichever cake is chosen by the couple, they should make sure it is cut before midnight on their wedding day and it is customary that every guest receives a piece – this is said to bring the newlyweds good luck in their lives together. 

The Speeches

It’s pretty customary at most weddings that someone will make a speech. The Groom will nearly always make a speech at a Danish wedding, but it’s also becoming more popular for the Bride to make a speech also. 

Then, if a close friend of the couple wishes, they can also stand up to make a speech. 

Often the friends of the couple will pick a famous song and re-write the words, creating a song for the wedding couple! This is always such fun and will often get incorporated into the speeches, though not always. 

The Many Many Kisses!!

This one is a sweet Danish wedding tradition, although not necessarily too hygienic in a post Covid world!! 

At the wedding party, if the groom needs to leave the room for any reason, it is a MUST that all the men will go kiss the bride! 

And the same if the bride leaves the room – all the women in the room will hurry to go and kiss the groom! 

The guests are firmly in control of when and where kissing should happen! If the guests start to bang their knives and forks on the table, the newlyweds have to kiss each other – but they must do this standing on their chairs! 

If the guests start to stamp their feet on the floor, the newlyweds must kiss, but this time under the table!!

Brudevals (Bridal Waltz) ie The First Dance

As per the cutting of the cake, the couple’s first dance or ‘bridal waltz’ must take place before midnight. 

When it’s time, all the guests will stand in a circle around the newlyweds and clap as the couple begin to dance. 

The music for this dance traditionally originates from August Bournonville’s ballet “Et folkesagn” (which translates as ‘A Folk Tale’) from 1854. 

As the couple dance, the guests make the circle smaller and smaller and eventually the couple kiss (again!). 

Then one of the more wonderful and very very Danish wedding customs is immediately carried out…

Cutting the Toes of the Groom Socks

Now this is one of those wedding traditions that you probably will never have heard of and then one day you’re invited to a Danish wedding and this happens in front of you! You might be left wondering what on earth just happend! And why?! 

So let us explain… the men closest to the groom will pick up the groom at the end of the bridal waltz, take off his shoes and cut the toes off his socks. 

This is a HUGE part of the Danish wedding for the groom and his friends, and symobilises the huge responsibility of the groom entering married life. He is no longer a young single boy. He is now a married man!

A less endearing part of this tradition is that then these torn socks can then sometimes be given to the bride for her to fix, almost as a test of her ability to ‘look after her husband’ in ways such as darning his worn or damaged socks!! Charming!

The Cutting of the Bride’s Veil

As the grooms socks are being cut off, the Bride’s Veil is also destroyed! This symbolises the woman’s exit from being a young girl who has now entered womanhood! She no longer has need for her bridal veil!

The Day After a Danish Wedding!

It’s not quite all over once midnight on the day of the actual wedding ceremony – there is one last ‘treat’ left in store for the bride….

The Morning Gift

It is customary for the groom to gift his bride with some kind of jewellery, commonly a necklace or ‘medalion’ of some kind, containing something extremely personal relating to him, such as a lock of his hair or his picture for example. 

However, this tradition goes back a long long way and stems from the fact that should a husband die ‘early on’ in the marriage, his wife would inherit nothing, with all his inheritance being passed to his parents. The poor widow would be left with nothing! 

So to ensure a newly bereaved wife would not be left totally destitute in the event of her husband’s death, a ‘morning’ gift was offered. In these old days, it would ususally be money or land or even sometimes property such as a small hut – somthing that would give her some kind of financial recompense or security, should her husband die before his parents. 

Thank goodness times have moved on since these days and women don’t need to rely on men for this kind of thing anymore, right?!

But are these Traditions Outdated?

You may, while reading through some of these popular Danish wedding customs, have wondered if they still have a place in today’s society. We know we certainly have.

Things like asking for the father’s permission for a woman’s hand in marriage for example certainly feels extremely outdated. And it goes without saying that a woman’s worth as a life partner is so much more than her ability to darn a pair of socks! 

So, take from these traditions what you will! 

But if you’re getting married in Denmark, maybe there might be one or two you’d like to add your own take onto, and bring to your Danish wedding day, possibly even creating a new family wedding tradition of your own.

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