- a guide for guests
Summer is a popular time to get married in many countries, equally so in
the Netherlands. So if you are lucky enough to get an invite, here’s a little
look at what to expect from a wedding in the Netherlands.
By Cathy Leung I have had the pleasure of attending many ning party. It should be clear from your
Dutch huwelijken (weddings), including invitation which part of the day you are
my own, and they have all been uniquely invited to. For work colleagues, for exam-
special occasions. There are though some ple, it is often the case that you will just be
common traditions and protocol that may invited to the evening party.
not be familiar to non-Dutch nationals.
Which guest list are you on? After the main wedding invitation from the
The typical format for a Dutch wedding can couple themselves, you may very well get a
include the marriage ceremony, a drinks separate letter from the Ceremoniemeesters.
reception, a sit-down dinner, and an eve- As well as a best man and bridesmaids,
28 | access | summer
many couples will appoint friends to act “
there is an old tradition of serenading
as Ceremoniemeesters to help lighten the
load before and during the wedding. the bride and groom with a song using
In general, they play an active role in com- personalised lyrics about the couple”
municating with guests before the wed-
ding and providing master of ceremony
duties during the wedding, the reception
and party. They might let you know about
any theme for the party and provide advice Speeches a collection of songs written in tribute to
on how to get there and places to stay. It is fair to say, the Dutch like to give the couple, and signatures on the hull of
speeches but when it comes to weddings, the couple’s new sailing boat (although
The ceremony they excel themselves. Speeches are usually I expect that hasn’t stood the test of time).
A couple getting married in the given by the father of the groom as well as For our wedding, the Ceremoniemeesters
Netherlands must always have a civil cere- the father of the bride and be warned: they asked our guests to email three words that
mony, performed by a town hall official can go on for some time. came to mind when they thought of us.
but not necessarily in the gemeentehuis The resulting word cloud was printed on
(town hall), and they may choose to have The party a canvas and framed - it was incredibly
an additional religious ceremony after this The dress code for the evening party can touching and a great example of the bene-
has taken place. During the civil ceremony often be different than for the daytime fes- fits of having Ceremoniemeesters.
you generally won’t hear the bride and tivities. For example, in my husband’s jaar-
groom making personal vows. There may club (university fraternity), they often make So with this little social guide, you should
be readings and speeches from close this a black tie occasion. Wedding themes be better prepared for some huwelijk
friends and family though and the civil ser- and fancy dress also seems to be growing action. Now all you have to do is wait to
vant who marries the pair will certainly in popularity. Of the quirkier weddings I’ve be invited. «
give a speech first before asking the bride attended, one requested guests adopt a
and groom whether they agree to be mar- sailing theme, and another that they wear
ried. They answer with a simple “Ja”. red, green and blue - the colours of the
Schiermonikoog flag. Party food can be as
Congratulations! simple as circulating trays of bitterballen,
You will be expected to personally congrat- but the good news is that drinks (beer and
ulate the bride and groom in person once wine) are usually also circulated on trays -
the ceremony is over; it is a very important so no big queues at the bar.
element of the proceedings. So much so
that it is sometimes not left to chance: the Surprise!
use of clip-on, flashing LED hearts can be A lovely thing the Ceremoniemeesters also Need a hat?
used to help the couple identify who hasn’t do is to arrange a special surprise for the Not something you’ll easily
find on the Dutch high street,
yet congratulated them yet - when they bride and groom, planned together with I recommend:
have, the light is turned off. Additionally, the guests. The nature of this surprise can Hoeden MV, Amsterdam
at the reception you may well hear a group take many forms but in general it is a way www.hoeden-mv.com
of Dutchies burst into song. They’re proba- of enabling the guests to give a personal Getting married?
bly not drunk already, there is an old tradi- and lasting message to the bride and For comprehensive information
tion of serenading the bride and groom groom that they can keep and treasure. on getting married in the
Netherlands, download the
with a song using personalised lyrics about I have seen video booths for taped mes- ACCESS Guide, ‘Marriage’,
the couple. sages, photo booths for a photo collage, from www.access-nl.org.
access | summer | 29
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