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Ron Stubbings, an international director for Sons of Norway, is a Canadian with strong ties to Norway (he was knighted in 1999). Riitta Huttunen was born in Finland but grew up in Stockholm. Both folk dance enthusiasts, Ron and Riitta found themselves partnered up in a Friday evening workshop during 2009’s folk dance convention, Nordlek, in Lahti, Finland.
“We must have danced at least 10 different dances that evening,” says Ron. “We’ve remained partners ever since.”
After Nordlek, the two exchanged e-mails, calls and visits. In 2010, while Ron was visiting Riitta in Stockholm, they made a trip to Norway to see friends.
“On the way back we stopped at the border,” says Ron. “As she stood in Sweden and I stood in Norway, that’s when I proposed.”
It’s only natural that this multi-cultural couple would incorporate traditional touches into their wedding day. Ron wore his bunad and a Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav medal, while Riitta donned a Finnish costume that once belonged to her great aunt.
The wedding cake also represented the couple to a T. “On the kransekake, usually it’s just the Norwegian flags. [But] we put all those countries on,” says Ron.
Perhaps even more important was the couple’s shared love of Scandinavian folk dancing. Ron and Riitta danced up to the altar to a Tyrol waltz and finished with a Pariser polka at the conclusion of the ceremony. Riitta’s dance troupe also performed during the Sunday afternoon tea reception.
“Folk dancing is what brought us together, and folk dancing is still very important for both of us,” says Riitta.
The couple lives together in British Columbia where they continue to dance several times a week.