How to marry like a Swiss commoner

A bit of sun, the lake and a swan -- these newlyweds were lucky enough to have all the elements for a romantic photo at a landing stage on Lake Zurich. Keystone

How does a typical Swiss couple get married? We’ve created a handy guide on how to tie the knot in Switzerland, with the help of a study by the association of Independent Swiss Wedding Planners.

This content was published on May 19, 2018 - 08:00

Some 40,000 weddings took place in Switzerland in 2017. To marry just like a regular Swiss couple, there are a few simple rules to follow:

 1. Splash out

On average, Swiss couples spend CHF30,000 to CHF40,000 ($30,000 – $40,000) on their wedding – not including the cost of the dress and suits, rings or the honeymoon. “That’s probably quite a lot compared to Switzerland’s neighbouring countries,” says Simone Glarner of the Association of Independent Swiss Wedding Planners (VUSH). “Renting the wedding location is particularly expensive here and the standard of living in Switzerland is high,” Glarner explains.

Just how much a wedding costs depends primarily on the number of guests and on how long the festivities go on for. “In India, people sometimes celebrate for several days or weeks – which of course cots a lot of money,” says Glarner.

At Arabic weddings, on the other hand, it is common for the guests, and particularly for the couple’s family, to bring homemade dishes to the party with them, which can greatly reduce the costs for the bridal party.

2. Keep it together

Until recently, it was the custom in Switzerland to celebrate a wedding in two parts: more people were invited to the aperitif that was served shortly after the official ceremony than were invited to the evening do with dinner. This practice is no longer in vogue. According to the study of the wedding planners’ association, bridal couples increasingly want all their guests to join them for the whole day.

3. Defy bad weather

In autumn, the weather in Switzerland is usually cool and wet. The Swiss don’t let a spell of bad weather spoil their wedding mood, however. The more traditional spring weddings have noticeably declined in recent years, while September weddings are gaining in popularity. Roughly one in four weddings organised by VUSH took place during that month last year.

4. Celebrate with a close-knit circle

Unlike Latin and Mediterranean cultures, Swiss dislike massive wedding celebrations and typically invite 40 to 70 guests maximum. It is very rare to have more than 100 people attending a Swiss wedding.

5. Be kitsch but do it boldly

Last year, colour schemes combining multiple shades of rose and pastel colours with gold were on display at weddings. The Swiss have also caught on to the growing trend of soundwave tattoos, which give a visual representation to statements such as “Yes, I do” that can be replayed.

Switzerland documented 14,850 divorces in 2017. The association of wedding planners has not analysed what the average divorce looks like in the Alpine nation. “But I can imagine the Anglo-Saxon tendency to celebrate divorce is also happening in Switzerland,” says Glarner.

In compliance with the JTI standards

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

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