Dutch Wedding Etiquette - A Wedding Day in the Netherlands
After done with an official engagement (see Dutch Wedding Etiquette- the Engagement), here comes the wedding day!
Dutch Wedding day is commonly splitted into several sessions in a day, and they tend to invite different groups of people to attend different sessions.
Reception is the start of the wedding day, where mostly extended family, friends, colleagues and/ or neighbors of the marrying couple are invited.
This session is relatively short, can last from 30 minutes to an hour before the registration ceremony takes place. You can expect drinks, nuts, olives and small finger food (i.e. hapjes in Dutch) to be available there.
Useful Guides for the Netherlands
The Registration Ceremony is the legal procedure taken care by the civil servant who owns the legal right to host a marriage ceremony. Before the ceremony, the marrying couple would have already met the civil servant once to give him their own 'love story', and then the civil servant would tell the story during the ceremony.
Traditionally, this ceremony can only take place in town halls and churches in the Netherlands. Today, you can choose to have the ceremony in approved churches, restaurants or even outdoor venues.
Typically, guests who are invited to the reception would also be invited to witness the ceremony.
Depends on the arrangement of the wedding, you are expected to congratulate and give out your prepared gift to the couple either in the reception before or after the ceremony.
In most occasions, only closed family and friends are invited to wedding dinner. However, it also depends on the scale that the marrying couples preferred of course. There are many options available in the Netherlands for wedding dinner. From walking dinner (buffet), 4-7 course dinner, barbeque to boat trip dinner, you name it. Yet it’s bit tricky to arrange outdoor dinner since that depends heavily on the weather, which tend to be grey and wet in the Netherlands.
Some weddings they combine dinner and after-dinner party together, while some keep them separate and invite a bigger group of audience to their after-dinner wedding party. It's quite popular to have live bands or DJs to entertain during the party. You might already be able to imagine that it's not quite handy for guests who are only invited to ceremony and after-dinner party as they got several hours of time-gap in-between.
Invitation cards would also give you the clue on expected gifts. Nowadays it's popular to use online gift lists, which is managed by the bridesmaid or friends of the marrying couple. If you see an envelope sign next to gift ideas on the invitation, that means that the couple expects cash or cash coupons. Do not mistaken it as 'emailing' them!
I hope the above can give you a brief idea on what to expect in a Dutch wedding day!
Read Invitation Card Carefully
In times when you receive wedding invitations, read carefully to see which session(s) you are invited to. Most of the time if there are special dress code, it would also be mentioned on the invitation.
What's the Wedding Day Etiquette in Your Culture?
Wedding etiquette is almost unique in every country and cultural groups. Please share with us your wedding etiquette or interesting stuff on your own wedding day!