By Jenna Clark for TheKnot.com
If you are headed to the Netherlands for a friend's traditional Dutch wedding or are engaged and looking to honor you or your partner's Dutch roots, there are a couple of Dutch wedding traditions that you can incorporate into the big day celebrating your everlasting love.
To better understand the Dutch traditions you may consider incorporating into your wedding day and/or other wedding-related events, we spoke with wedding planner Gaelle de Graaff of GG Weddings & Events and wedding/event planner and stylist Emilva Tervoort of Sante Weddings & Events. They spoke with us about some wedding traditionsyou can add to your celebration to both honor your ancestors and make the day more memorable.
From rules about driving (yes, you read that correctly!) to Dutch fashion, there are some traditions you can except even before a wedding in Holland begins.
Similar to wedding activities across the United States, friends and family may play the part of a wedding planner or the like in helping the happy couple execute the wedding of their dreams. "Before wedding planners became a thing in the Netherlands, usually a (best) friend would be the Master of Ceremonies/coordinator on the day," says Tervoort. Although in modern times, couples may opt for a more professional or experienced wedding planner, other couples may prefer to have a close friend help them with the coordination of the events they want to include to make their wedding day memorable. Plus, it may be more personal and affordable, too. You can think of the Master of Ceremonies as being most similar to the role that a best man and/or maid of honor may have in an American wedding.
Typically, a Dutch bride wears a white dress, says de Graaff. Additionally, "men were expected to wear a jacquard during the day. This is a long black coat with rounded cut-away fronts. Underneath men would wear a gray cardigan, striped trousers without cuffs, a white shirt with concealed button closure, double cufflinks, a gray, black or white tie, black shoes, a white pocket square and a gray or black wedding hat. After 6 pm you change into a tuxedo. With this outfit, a little more variation is possible in the colors and such, but there is one rule that should not be forgotten: a corsage may not be worn with a tuxedo. If the groom wears a jacquard during the day, this is also expected of the most important male guests. Namely the fathers of the bride and groom, the brothers of the bride and groom, the witnesses and the master of ceremonies," said de Graaff. With regard to guests, in modern times most people usually wear cocktail attire. "It is pretty much "come as you are" here in the Netherlands," says Tervoort.
For good luck and prosperity, "according to the old custom, no to-be-wed is allowed to drive that day so a third person will have to drive the vehicle. This guarantees a long and happy marriage and brings happiness for the rest of your life. To chase away evil spirits, empty tin cans are also tied to the end of the wedding car," says de Graaff. With this being said, you shouldn't be expecting to do much heavy lifting on their special day while they focus on their relationship and lifelong commitment which is about to be made.
From the legal to the ceremonial, here are the Dutch wedding ceremony traditions you should know.
If a couple wants to have a religious or church wedding ceremony, it is important to note that it can only be done after a civil ceremony takes place. "Legal weddings have to take place in an official wedding venue. An official wedding venue is a location approved by a Dutch municipality where a marriage may be performed by an (extraordinary) civil registrar. There are municipal and non-municipal wedding venues," explains Tervoort. In line with Dutch law, a couple is only legally able to get married at a religious establishment only if they have participated in a civil ceremony first.
Dutch wedding ceremonies tend to be on the longer side averaging around 45 minutes, but typically vary between 30 and 60 minutes. "It usually contains a personalized speech carried out by the wedding officiant and sometimes by close family members or friends. Also, the couple typically sits on a chair or bench, like the rest of the guests (but facing the guests). The main reason for this is because the ceremony has a longer duration," says Tervoort.
After the ceremony is completed, but prior to the reception, attendees typically line up to provide their congratulations and well wishes. It is important to note the specific order which is traditionally followed: "The bride is congratulated first and then the groom. Officially, the parents should also be listed next to them, in the following order; mother of the groom, father of the groom, mother of the bride, father of the bride." explains de Graaff.
Wondering what will be on the menu at a Dutch wedding? Read on for what the experts have to say.
The wedding cake is accompanied with one of the most basic, yet meaningful Dutch wedding traditions. "The wedding cake is served during the reception, together with the first toast and thus the glass of champagne," says de Graaff. Additionally, "the cake cutting and eating the cake with a glass of champagne always takes place right after the ceremony at the start of the reception. After the cake cutting, the drink reception starts," notes Tervoort.
You can opt to conclude your reception with the handing out of sweetmeats to your wedding guests. "A traditional favor for guests is bridal sugar. Hand out five almonds to each guest. Bridal sugar is an almond nut that has been topped with sugar. This symbolizes life that can be sweet but also bitter. The number of bridal sugars that are handed out also determines the number of wishes that are given to the bridal couple. The sugars symbolize: love, happiness, loyalty, prosperity, fertility," says de Graaff.
This was an interview from January 20, 2023, with Jenna Clark for the Knot.com.