(Yes, I have been waiting a month to make that pun.)

Turku Cathedral, Mother Church of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, and the country’s national shrine. Also, as it happens, the site we were picked up by the wedding bus which would take us to Björkboda. We met a number of guests on the steps there, and immediately recounted yesterday’s misfortunes to explain why were still wearing jeans. Luckily for us, Anu had already made most people aware of our plight (“Oh, you’re the ones who lost their luggage!”) which saved us a lot of time and embarrassment.

The wedding itself took place on the beautiful forested grounds of Storfinnhova Gård in the countryside. En route, we picked up the two guys who would form the first half of the entertainment, though it was anyone’s best guess as to what their collection of hollow metal pipes would actually be used for.

Complimentary bubbles!

Apparently the people who run the facilities are of a more traditionally stoic Finnish sensibility and, on seeing what Anu’s bridal party had done with the place, noted that it looked very…different.

Prior to the wedding, John and I hadn’t seen Anu in over 10 years. We couldn’t think of a single better reason for finally making the journey.

We’d also been hearing about Paul for a good 12 years prior to the event, so it was nice to finally meet him in person!

We swooped in to monopolise Anu as soon as etiquette allowed.

Purpose revealed! The first set of entertainers were a duo who specialised in the cyr wheel, which I’d literally never seen performed until this day.

Here they are in action. (I always have immense trouble making WordPress play videos in HD, so please switch to 1080p.)

True to form, Anu and Paul had encountered them busking at a train station one day and asked if they did weddings.

Candy bar! Always a wedding favourite on my part, but all the more so…

…when their individual labels actually make me cackle.


Before the meal, we headed out into the forest to drop off what little of our luggage had survived with us until this point on the trip. This was also where we first laid eyes on Storfinnhova Gård’s main attraction…

…the fantasy forest village. If I said that sleeping in an Ewok hut wasn’t part of the trip I was most looking forward to, I would be lying.

Each cabin could sleep three people, though John and I were lucky enough to have one all to ourselves.

♪ Yub nub! Eee chop yub nub!

The other part we’d been most anticipating was the granite smoke-sauna housed in one of these beautiful wooden halls in the forest, with a naturally heated pool formed at the bottom.

There was also a freezing cold creek outside, which one could jump into between trips to the sauna. It was nothing if not refreshing.

This was the path that lead between the estate and the forest village.

Official photography time!

Thankfully John’s and my shameful attire didn’t preclude us from being in the pictures, haha.

…which is perhaps unsurprising when you note that somehow – despite having no access to cosmetics, and the necessity of attending a wedding wearing the same clothes he’d flown in the day before – John still managed to look like this.

And speaking of people who looked beautiful that day!

This was technically my first official meal in Finland since I’d been so stressed the previous day trying to sort out the baggage situation that I couldn’t physically eat. Well worth the wait!

I also confess that I got a little carried away with the apple cider margaritas which have since entered the echelons of my favourite cocktails.

You can see one (of many) on the right there, with apple slices and cinnamon-sugar coating the rim. (My mouth is watering.)

We were joined at our table by the lovely Susanna and Mikko, the former of whom is actually a photographer. (It’s very rare for John and I to go to a function and me to be the one engaged in work chat.)

Anu got a head-start on her wedding night and got lei’d right there in the hall.

Anu and Paul’s lovely rendition of Twilight Time (of which I’m sure I have a video somewhere – to be uploaded in due course!)

…which you can listen to right here. (Please ignore the unfortunate shoe-squeak right at the end of the video – and again, switch to HD.)

Disco cat.

First dance.


There was a slight mishap with the cake-cutting whereby thick, cardboard slabs had been placed between each layer, making the actual carving process something of a mission.

Unaware of the obstacles, Paul and Anu somehow managed to cleave all three layers with a blunt cake spatula and some elbow grease.

I think the chef was equal parts impressed and bewildered.

The cake, incidentally, was multi-flavoured, and constituted my very first encounter with the mythical Finnish cloudberry. (It sort of looks like a raspberry, if it was drawn by someone who’d only heard a really bad description and was colour blind.)

Anu: Just pick a number and match it up with your prize. It’s like a raffle for idiots.

Bouquet toss! Almost as hard as catching the bouquet: finding it in this particular photo.

There was also the garter toss for the men, though Paul first had to acquire it with some dental dexterity. (John won, by the way, which is a little unfair when you consider that he has the reach of a fucking albatross.)

Some creative sparkler action, *heavily* assisted by Susanna.

We had at least 20 takes beforehand that looked like this. Apparently John and I have immense difficulty understanding what shape a love-heart is.

My contribution to the increasingly poetic guestbook.

Anu’s sister, Mona, telling us about outsiders’ perspectives on her culture:

“Oh, you have a sauna in your house? You must be so posh!”
“No, I’m just Finnish.”

Bride and groom!

And onwards to the midnight sauna experience. (I wasn’t sure if people would particularly want me taking naked photos of them in the dark, so all of these are from the official website.) Even the Finns present said it was probably the best sauna they’d ever experienced, which was both good and bad for us since it as the first one we’d been to in the country and set the bar impossibly high for any that followed.

We finally went to bed around 3 in the morning, but couldn’t have been happier to join Anu and Paul in a glorious day of partying, nuptials, Ewok villages, and matrimonial nudity in the Rolls Royce of saunas. Onnea häiden johdosta!

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