This Couple's Traditional Wedding at the Groom's Family's Estate in Finland Was Followed by the Most Romantic Postnuptial Lunch
Laura Kotro met Alexander Ljungqvist at a convention for next-generation business owners in Tahko, Finland, where they sought each other out whenever they could. "Every time a lecture or dinner was about to start, I remember trying to look for a seat near her," Alexander says. "She later told me she did the same thing." It didn't take long—as in, a few days—for the couple to know that they had stumbled upon a meaningful, lifelong partnership. A few days into their relationship, the pair visited Berlin, Germany, for a weekend date. A month after that, they bought their first apartment together— and almost a year to the date of their first meeting, Laura and Alexander were engaged. "Everything has gone by very quickly, but from the very first moment I met him, I knew I had met the greatest love of my life," shares the bride.
On the day he proposed, Alexander—who had bought his future wife's Tillander engagement ring six months prior—asked Laura to meet him at their new apartment, which was undergoing a full renovation. She wasn't feeling well and almost stayed home—but Alexander insisted that she come over and meet some of his friends (on her short walk over to their home, she had inexplicable butterflies, she says, though she didn't know the reason behind them at the time). When she arrived, she found Alexander in the middle of the construction with a blanket laid out, surrounded by red roses and hundreds of candles. The next day, Alexander swept her away to a celebratory trip in the Seychelles.
Shortly after, the couple began envisioning their July 27, 2019, wedding weekend at Alexander's family estate, Noormarkun Ruuki in Pori, Finland, a spectacular compound with lush gardens and scenic views. They worked with planners Michaela and Lotta from Nord & Mae to put together a multi-day party (including a lovely postnuptial brunch!) that was all about their 105 guests—which is ultimately why they decided to bypass many big-day traditions. They put the estate's gorgeous grounds on full display by sticking to their minimalist color palette ("Very Scandinavian of us!" jokes Laura), consisting primarily of soft blush, white, and burgundy, punctuated with pops of green.
You're Invited—and We're Sorry
Nord & Mae designed the duo's invitation suite that was intentionally simple and sophisticated ("Quality paper, a well-planned design, and our fonts were key," adds Laura), since they didn't want to give anything away about the estate. "As many of our guests hadn't been to Noormarkku before our wedding, we wanted to keep some of it a secret—which is why we wanted to keep everything simple," Laura explains.
There was, however, a bit of drama surrounding the invites: They went out with the wrong date printed on them. "So many of us had seen the invite, yet somehow, no one noticed that tiny mistake," the bride says. To correct the error, the couple sent out a small note that read, "We are so head over heels in love that we don't even remember when we are getting married!"
A Romantic Look
Laura fell in love with her friend's Pukani wedding dress, so she decided to have the designer behind the label, Saara Kuusjärvi, customize her own. The lace and satin gown, featuring long sleeves and button detailing along the back, was formal enough for the classic setting—and her traditional husband, says Laura.
The Finishing Touches
This bride paired her gown with a veil, also by Pukani, and white floral Jennifer Behr hair accessories. She wore a mix of earrings: sapphire-studded pieces from her grandmother, a Tillander diamond set, and another pair from Maria Tash. She slipped into two pairs of Jimmy Choo heels throughout the evening.
"My bouquet was by far the most beautiful arrangement I have ever seen," says Laura of the tonal mix, comprised of cream, blush, and burgundy blooms created by Nord & Mae. "No words do it justice."
Alexander donned an English-style morning coat by Vaatturiliike Sauma for the occasion. He took a weekend trip to London to buy a contoured top hat from Lock & Co. and Crockett & Jones black cap toe shoes. He wore his late grandfather's diamond and pearl cuff links, an 18th-century diamond and sapphire tie pin, and his other late grandfather's pocket watch. "I had borrowed the watch from my father and once I tried to return it, he told me to keep it as a wedding gift from him," he says.
Laura wanted her bridesmaids to wear Self-Portrait dresses, and since two of the bridesmaids already owned pink-centric gowns from the designer, it was an easy choice. "All of them looked so beautiful and I could not have been happier to have them next to me on my wedding day," the bride recalls.
The First Look
Laura and Alexander met before the ceremony in an alleyway, where Alexander was handed a letter his bride wrote to him. "Shortly after starting to read her lovely and well-written words, my eyes started to water. I remember my heart beating rapidly as I realized that I was about to have the honor of marrying the woman of my dreams on this very day," Alexander says.
Welcome to the Estate
This couple knew they wanted to get married on Alexander's family estate the first time they set foot on the property together. "Family legacy and its roots are so important to Alexander and me, so it made perfect sense to marry in a place where other family members have gotten married before us and so many others will after us," Laura says. "It was a lovely way to celebrate and become a part of Alexander's family's history." The property has been in Alexander's family since 1870, which makes him part of the fifth generation of its history.
All About the Guests
The pair offered parasols and hand fans to help guests beat Finland's July heat. "Our planners always said that they'd never met clients who were so focused on making sure their guests were comfortable throughout the day," Laura says.
The Ceremony Arch
Surrounded by the property's picturesque yellow buildings, the ceremony took place on an expansive lawn. Alexander built the wooden arch that marked the aisle, which was decorated with white, blush, and pink flowers and greenery vines; the structure framed the bubbling fountain in the center of the space.
The Ceremony Details
The service was officiated by a pastor, but it was important to the couple to exchange their own vows. They each wrote three sentences to each other starting with, "I promise." "We filled out the rest of the sentences on our own, so we'd hear each other say them for the first time at the altar," Laura says. "They ended up being identical, which made us laugh."
The Ride Along
As the cocktail hour kicked off, the newlyweds stepped away from their guests; a groomsman drove them around the grounds in Alexander's grandfather's 1952 Mercedes Benz 300. "It was a proud moment to sit in the back of my grandfather's car, next to my beautiful wife, and drive around our family estate," Alexander says. "Time truly stopped for a second."
The Cocktail Hour
As a quartet played, guests enjoyed Champagne, spritzers, and wine, along with small hors d'oeuvres. Alexander's godfather took an opportunity during the interlude to share the history of the estate with the celebrants.
An Interactive Game
The couple worked with their planners to set up a wall that read, "Pick a card and replace it with a photo." Each card corresponded with a task, like "Take a selfie with the newlyweds."
Attendees had fun snapping images during the activity; the photos ultimately made perfect keepsakes for the bride and groom.
A Short Walk and a Spontaneous First Dance
The couple joined attendees on the short walk from the ceremony and cocktail hour area to the reception space. As they arrived, their quartet, Lumo Ensemble, played Christina Perry's "A Thousand Years." Since they were ahead of schedule, Laura decided to ask her groom to dance. The spontaneous spin took place on the lawn in front of all of their loved ones: "This was not at all planned, but it turned out to be one of my dearest memories from our wedding," Alexander says. "Luckily one of our guests filmed it!"
The Seating Chart
Guests found their table numbers at a blush seating chart lettered with the same modern font that appeared on the invitation suite.
The Stunning Staircase
The reception was held on the second floor in one of the estate's buildings, so the couple's planners used the staircase as a decorative focal point. They embellished the steps and banisters with lush arrangements of wildflowers, roses, and greenery.
A Regal Reception
The party space was filled with round tables paired with gold chairs. Each table was topped with floor-length ivory linens; bust sculptures around the room brought Old-World flair. Extravagant crystal chandeliers hung from the painted ceiling, which lent an opulent air to the setting.
The Place Settings
In addition to centerpieces full of lush flowers in blush tones, the tables were set with gold cutlery, white linen napkins, and blush menus.
Modern table numbers added contrast to the otherwise traditional tablescapes and reinforced the contemporary typefaces on the signage throughout the big day.
A cigar bar was set up near the building's balcony.
Dinner and Speeches
During dinner, guests listened to speeches from Laura's father, two of her bridesmaids, and Alexander's groomsmen. The menu was locally sourced—some ingredients even came from family businesses owned by the couple's friends. The meal began with broiled arctic char with crab rillette and a salad of fresh herbs and nettle, followed by a palette cleanser of blackcurrant sorbet. The main course was roasted venison with béarnaise sauce, asparagus, and pumpkin and potato purée. For dessert, guests enjoyed cheeses, chocolate truffles, and cheesecake.
The couple chose the acoustic version of "You Saved My Soul" by Mighty Oaks for their first planned dance as husband and wife. The lyrics resonated with them—plus, they liked that the song was upbeat.
Goodbye for Now
At the end of the evening, the couple said goodbye for now to their guests—they'd see all of them the following morning, during their postnuptial lunch.
The Goodbye Lunch
The day after the wedding, the newlyweds hosted a farewell lunch for all of their guests underneath a sprawling white pergola at the estate.
A Perfect Morning
A single long table was set up underneath the pergola and topped with white linens and small white centerpieces that ran the length of the table.
A Sweet Farewell
After brunch, the couple attempted to make their way to Helinski, Finland in their getaway car—but out of the blue, they got a flat tire. "We had to stand outside [in the heat] for an hour before help came," recalls Laura. "Luckily, our friends were close by with their air-conditioned car, so we sat in their back seat waiting for help. We truly didn't mind though, as we were over the moon—so happy and just married. The guy who came to change the tire asked us if we were in a hurry, and Alexander just calmly replied, 'We got married yesterday. We are not in a hurry to go anywhere ever again.'"
When they did finally make it to Helinski, the newlyweds boarded a yacht with their friends and sang karaoke until 2 a.m. Following their wedding weekend, the duo took a month-long trip around the world; they visited places like New York, Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa during their honeymoon.
Photography, Vicki Grafton
Venue, Catering, and Cake, Noormarkku Works
Event Planning, Design, Stationery, and Flowers, Nord & Mae
Bride's Gown, Pukani
Engagement Ring, Tillander
Bridesmaids' Dresses, Self-Portrait
Groom's Suit, Vaatturiliike Sauma
Groomsmen's Suits, Suit Supply