Dutch Affairs / English / Friendship

Dutch Summer Weddings

This summer I have three weddings to attend. I find it very special to have three wedding invitations in a row. Firstly: the Dutch are not very eager to get married, secondly: it is special when you are invited for a wedding here cause a Dutch wedding is very intimate. Not like in Indonesia when you could easily come along with your parents or friends to a wedding n’importe de qui.
O yes, the third reason; these three weddings are different. One would be held in a park, the second is an Indonesian wedding of my diajeng, my best friend J in a venue where I regularly come and the last will be held at (how original) 8-8-08 in The Openlucht Museum (it’s like TMII at Jakarta). At this third wedding we can bring our daughter (this is also special for the guests), a babysitter would then be available for the kids as the bride and the groom themselves have 2 kids.
I try to explain reason number two, an intimate Dutch wedding. This information is about an average Dutch wedding I attended before in case anyone has different observation than the following. It begins with a wedding ceremony, mostly at the City Hall. Since the last 4 years couples have been able to get married on location where they want. Some choose the church as a wedding location not because they are religious but because of the idyllic venue itself. After the couple is married, they go to another location (mostly a park, castle or everywhere else) for shooting the wedding pics. The guests would wait at location nipping their coffee, tea with some petit fours, this could be at a restaurant/café where the dinner would be served later on. At 4 o’clock a standing reception may be held for some guests. At 6 o’clock (yeah, I know, Dutch people eat their dinner early in the evening) the selected closest relatives and friends will enjoy dinner together with the bride and the groom. During this intimate dinner, gifts would be presented and some people hold speeches mostly filled with embarrassing moments of the newlyweds. Some couples don’t hold a reception, but throwing a party for all guests.
The wedding party begins with yet another speeches after that, voetjes van de vloer! It’s time to dance accompanied by a live band. The party will last till 02.00 o’clock, guests will be served coffee. At the end, when the bride and the groom will leave the venue, guests will sing Lang zullen ze leven (with the same tune as Panjang Umurnya in Bahasa Indonesia) for the newlyweds. When I heard it for the first time, I was confused. I thought “Is there any one’s birthday today?”. Now I know better, this song’s text is about wishing the newlyweds a long life together.
For all those brides to be, I wish them luck with the preparations and also nice weather at d-day itself!

5 thoughts on “Dutch Summer Weddings

  1. Right. You obviously are a keen observer and a scrupulous reporter. Most Dutch weddings are exactly the way you describe them (although I think gradually more and more conspicuous consumption can be observed here and there. Some newly weds I know did spend a lot of money on the occasion. Which forced them to make loans of over € 20.000 en nearly € 30.000 respectively – which is over the top, if you ask me. And quite risky, because at least 1 in 3 marriages ends in divorce).

    As for Indonesian weddings – I have an experience of only two; both times I was swept of my feet: by the length of it, the formality of it and the attending crowds which went up into the thousands I guess.
    But I should add that the amount, variety and quality of food ( and the – unfortunately non-alcoholic – drinks) made up for those inconveniences.


  2. A friend told me, with the same amount of money, Indonesian weddings feed 1000 guests while Dutch or weddings in Europe could hardly feed the 30 close-related guests on the banquet.

    In 2003, while still living in Almere, I rolled my eyes seeing the cost of hiring an officer for a wedding. Getting married on Mondays was the cheapest, if I’m not mistaken the price was around E500. Saturdays was the most.
    expensive, around E1500! Verdorie!

    Ik ging twee keer naar nederlandse bruiloften, allebei alleen maar naar het gemmeente en de cocktail feestje. Het banquet klinkt spannend hoor, net als bruiloften op de Amerikaanse films. Bedankt voor het verhaal.

    Je kan zeker me Santi noemen, Lorraine!

  3. So giving angpao instead of gifts is not common there? what kind of gifts do you normally buy for them? do we have to ask in advance what do they want or how? I hope nobody is asking for a car or a diamond as a gift, LOL!

  4. @ Colson, bedankt voor het compliment! Yes, Dutch Weddings get more and more luxurious.

    Indonesian weddings have an official character, meaning that the weddings are held by the parents of the bride & groom to let people know that their children are married. In Javanese culture where my father came from, it is usual that parents of the bride organise the weddings. Nowadays, young Indonesian couples prefer to wed intimately, only inviting 200 guests.

    @ Santi, you’re right the fee for the officer is the cheapest on Monday. Getting married at week ends and in a special venue will cost the couples more.

    @ Elyani, of course the Anpao! At the wedding invitation the couple just set an envelop in it asking for Anpao, so it is common here. It is also common to set a list of wanted wedding gifts. I find the list easier & more useful since thoese are gifts which the couple really need. And not to mention that couples have been living together, so they have already purchased stuffs for themselves.

  5. I just want to say thank you very much from deep of my heart for everything. Your support, your ideas, your ears to listen to my words.
    I really appreciate your help during my preparation..feel like I “found” my big sister while I’m here in Netherland so far away from my family.
    Once again…thank you so much mbakyu!

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