Missing weddings in Norway?

Looking at the content page of some churchbooks may lead us to think that no one got married for years in this parish.

I was searching for a wedding in Innvik parish, Sogn og Fjordane. As I found only one churchbook that covered this particular area within the timeframe, I was a little puzzled. This churchbook covered the timespan from 1750 to 1816, but the Married section spanned only from 1799 to 1807.

The “problems” discussed here appear before ca 1812 when the churchbooks with defined forms were introduced.

You can take a look at the contentpage in Digitalarkivet here

Married from 1799 to 1807

However, looking a little further down I found the two sections Engaged (No: Trolovelser) and Wedding bans (No: Lysninger)

Looking at these sections I found the solution to the “mystery”.

The reading of wedding banns is a tradition that dates back to the beginning of recorded history.  Some sort of announcement have been published when a couple wanted to get married (Hodne et al:75). In Christian time these banns were read by the minister from the pulpit in church. Normally three times before the wedding.

Here we see an announcement recorded in the chuchbook linked above (Hover mouse over picture to enlarge)

November 4th, widower Jon Rasmussen Bønes announces his intention to marry the girl Eli Jacobsdatter Sunde. Their sponsors are Børre L Strand and Arne O Hæggestad. The announcement would be repeated the two next Sundays in time for their wedding November 25. We see this added in the right column. Copulered is Latin for Married. No other record is found for this wedding. Some sort of public announcement of wedding intentions were required in Norway up until 1973.

Even though the engagement is a tradition that goes back a long time, the Ecclesiastical ordinances of 1582 and 1607 defined this as a church ritual. The engagement ritual had similarities with the wedding ritual. The engagements were recorded in the churchbook (Hodne et al:63):

We see that Bothol Knudsen and Brithe Andersdatter were engaged October 25 and married November 22nd.

The engagement rituals in church were ended by law in 1799. In the period until the parishes started to use the preprinted records, we may find the reading of banns as the main record with the wedding date added.

In some churchbooks these sections may not be defined and the engagements, reading of banns and weddings are recorded separately in the chronological list. You may find ministers who recorded every time the banns were read while in other churchbooks, only the engagements and weddings were recorded.

You also find separate “Banns registers” I have made a search that lists these registers in Digitalarkivet . A few of these registers starts in the early 1800’s while the major part of these were started in the late 1800’s. Not all parishes kept these records.

You might want to have a look at my article The Norwegian Churchbooks and 

Please comment and ask if something needs clarification. I am also very grateful if you share my articles with your fellow genealogists.


Bjarne Hodne, Ørnulf Hodne and Ronald Grambo: Det stod seg et bryllup – Ekteskapet i Norge gjennom tidene. J W Cappelens forlag, Oslo 1985


Featured photo Musea i Nord-Østerdalen Public domain

2 thoughts on “Missing weddings in Norway?

  • August 10, 2017 at 10:33 pm

    I learn something every time I read your new articles! Thanks a lot! I really look forward to it!!!


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