Originally, I thought this one could fit in the transitional life series that I started to honor the last six weeks of my life in the Netherlands (29 days left). Then I realized I was never married here, so it’s really not transitional. Of course, weddings and marriages are different all over the world, and some biologists will even argue that the whole point of marriage is a man-made facade that has no place in modern times. Imagine them coming home from a hard day’s work. I wouldn’t want to be married to someone who thought of that for a profession. To me, marriage is more than just a symbol. I’m looking forward to it. In preparing the wedding, there are certain things that are very different between the two countries. Thanks to Hollywood, the differences are blurring, though. After Dutch women saw even one proposal that involved a diamond-embedded engagement ring in the movies, they wouldn’t listen to tradition or reason and ‘wanted it too’.
First of all, a Dutch wedding doesn’t have a rehearsel dinner. We just know how dinners work. Instead, most weddings actually take the whole day and start out at the city hall. It is here that the legal wedding takes place. This is a small and rather short ceremony, usually shared with the same insider group that would be at a rehearsel dinner. After the legal ceremony, there is some sort of daily program, often including an optional wedding church service (often in my peer group at least). In the service, the wedding ceremony is more or less repeated, although the corny jokes are now made by a reverend instead of a municipality public official. It is here that the rings are exhanged, the kiss is made and vows get a heavenly weight attached to them. Next up is the reception, which is something different then an American reception. A Dutch reception hardly excludes anyone, except former lovers probably, and can be best described as the mix up between a cocktail hour and a kissing booth (there’s drinks, small snacks and a huge line to congratulate the couple). When all drunk uncles, small children and annoying relatives that you only invited out of spite are gone, the party commences, leaving a group somewhere in between everyone and their mother and the intimate close friends you started the day with. And, as every wedding should end, you end up with just the two of you.