Icelandic couple to retrace steps here
Kristjan Gunther Schram, emigrated to Minneota with his family in 1875 and became a local merchant until his death in 1914. He now rests with his wife and other relatives in St. Paul's Lutheran Cemetery on the south edge of town.
So, when his great-great grandson, Kristjan Schram, and his fiancee, Elizabeth Nunberg of Golden Valley, MN were planning their wedding, they knew St. Paul's Lutheran Church was the ideal spot for several reasons.
"My great-great grandfather took part in building the church," said Kristjan, "so it was very symbolic for us and also a great connection to Iceland right there in the middle of the state."
The couple, now living in Reykjavik, celebrated their 28th anniversary on June 11 and will be returning to Minneota on July 27 to show their three grown children, Gunnar Francis, Karrel Agust and Eva Bjork, and their partners, the church they were married in and also to learn more about their Icelandic heritage.
Kristjan had been to Minneota on two previous occasions before his wedding day; the first time in 1991 when a few of his Icelandic college friends took a road trip here.
The second time was with Elizabeth in the spring of 1994 to meet with Pastor Simon Fensom.
"It was then that Elizabeth and I had the unexpected pleasure of meeting Bill Holm," said Kristjan. "He agreed to play the organ during our wedding ceremony."
Kristjan and Elizabeth met when both were attending the University of Minnesota.
"We rented rooms in the same co-ed house in Dinkytown and got to know each other there," Kristjan explained. "As chance would have it, we both studied Journalism and Mass Communications at the U."
After their marriage, the couple initially made their home in Minneapolis before eventually settling down in Rejkavik after they completed college.
Several relatives made the trip from Iceland for the wedding in Minneota, including Kristjan's parents, Gunnar and Elisa, his sister and her 7-year-old son, Elizabeth's parents, Francis and Joann, and many other friends and relatives.
At the wedding reception in the Community Room at the Minneota Manor, a local band played polkas and waltzes, while Icelanders danced with Americans.
A traditional tall Icelandic cake, called "Kransakaka", was brought all the way from Reykjavik. The guests also dined on Icelandic salmon and rye bread, and drank champagne.
"There were so many great memories from that day when over 60 guests caravanned down from the Twin Cities to Minneota," Kristjan said. We blended traditions and added a few of our own, as was the case when each guest was given a yellow rose upon entering the church."
Following Icelandic tradition, the wedding featured no bridesmaids or groomsmen; instead, each father joined the couple at the altar.
"The American custom of a receiving line was held outdoors," Kristjan noted. "Luckily, the last hand was shaken before the day that started off sunny took a turn with a downpour rolling quickly through town."
Kristjan works in advertising as a consultant for several large companies in Iceland, while Elizabeth is involved in education and develops curriculum for ESL (English as a Second Language) students, primarily focusing on garden with children.
The family will be in Minnesota for three weeks, attending Elizabeth's family reunion, visiting leadership camps in Duluth and Ely where two of their children spent multiple summers, and spending one day in Minneota. They will return to Iceland on Aug. 5.