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Friday, November 1, 2019

Three Ways to Wed in Amsterdam

Words by Kimber Westphall

Europe has not only become more popular for American honeymoons, but also for American weddings. Amsterdam is one of Europe’s most treasured and iconic cities, providing the perfect backdrop for an idyllic European wedding, complete with Dutch charm, tulips and bicycle photo ops. Betrothed couples have a wide variety of wedding venues to choose from with the most picturesque backdrops, thanks to the city’s sprawling and endless canals. We caught up with Amsterdam-based wedding planner, Liz van de Lande (Wedding Bliz), to learn about the most popular wedding trends of the year in Amsterdam.

couple standing in front of amsterdam castle
amsterdam ceremony decor
bride tossing bouquet in amsterdam
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Before you book your plane ticket, there is one important caveat to an Amsterdam wedding. van de Lande cautions that non-Netherlands residents cannot get married in Amsterdam officially. But many American and international couples still have unofficial weddings or ceremonies in Amsterdam. The American couples simply take care of the legalities and paperwork prior to or after the Dutch celebration. When van de Lande was asked if she’s seen an uptick in Americans having some sort of tie to Amsterdam, she says it’s honestly a true mixed bag of variety. Some couples have Dutch heritage, while others simply love the city or have a fond memory that ties them back to the destination. 

She says it’s even a great spot for international couples to meet in the middle. Recently she had a couple from India and the U.S., and Amsterdam was in the middle so they met halfway to accommodate both families. She also notes that many same-sex couples love the symbolism of wedding in Amsterdam, as it was the first country to legalize same-sex marriage in 2001. Regardless of the couple or type of celebration you wish to share with their loved ones, we’ve got you covered for land or water, amidst a Dutch escape.

Canal or River Boat

We have to start with the obvious. With hundreds of canals and waterways, canal and river boats make up the fiber of the city, along with the 600,000 bikes zipping through the city. When planning a canal ceremony or reception, you have the same amenities as you would in a building or on land. From the food, views, chairs, restrooms and more, the boat has you covered. 

The one thing to consider that gets limited with these weddings afloat the Amsterdam waterways is the sound and noise your party generates. The city enforces very strict rules that inhibit loud music or microphones. If music is played, it must be very soft. So if a roaring band or a DJ is something you are desiring in your celebration, the boat might not be the best option for this type of affair. But another alternative to have the best of both worlds (and the photos for Instagram of course) is to break up the ceremony and reception with a river, or canal, boat cocktail hour. Then transition to another venue close by. The boat could even serve as a mobile, roaming cocktail hour if you will, to the reception. This is an ideal way to keep the cocktail hour exciting, and offer your out-of-town guests a little tour of the city and a chance to see more than one part of town.

Hotel

Amsterdam is home to more than 460 hotels. So aside from finding a place for your guests to lay their head at night, many of these hotels have event space to accommodate ceremonies and receptions. One of the most popular wedding venues is the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam. Set in an 18th century building, the history-loving couple gravitates towards this timeless palatial haven. 

Comprised of six different canal palaces, the hotel has an on-staff wedding planner that can help select the ultimate and personal experience and backdrop within the hotel walls. Whether you opt for the Maurer room with its original wall painting and Rococo decorations for a smaller, more intimate experience, or select the grand ballroom with canal views, the luxury hotel can accommodate any group size. This hotel, along with many other Amsterdam hotels, has a courtyard garden on property. Many couples take advantage of this outdoor scenery for wedding photos, or even the ceremony. Be sure to inquire about additional spaces outside the venue that would make for the perfect backdrop for wedding photos, or even a transitional cocktail hour. 

Countryside Escape

And perhaps right in the heart of the city isn’t your pace. For those wishing to host a countryside Dutch wedding, there are a multitude of historic venues, or estates, that offer a slower paced experience. When envisioning a European wedding, visions of historic castles may pop into your head. But van de Lande says these aren’t as common in Amsterdam as you would think. She says you need to venture outside the city center to capture this type of atmosphere and experience. 

However, countryside escapes nestled a bit from the city center are becoming more popular. One of the most popular spots this year is Duin & Kruidberg Estate. 30 minutes outside the city center, this countryside retreat offers options for a relaxed reception in one of its period rooms. Or if you favor a rowdy party with a DJ in another one of their event spaces, they can provide this too. You truly have more space to spread out and mix up the atmosphere and offerings for your guest, all in one night. You aren’t faced with noise restrictions, as you would be atop a canal or river boat in the city center. 

Photos courtesy of (in order of appearance): Fotobelle (1st & 3rd), Gert Huygaerts (2nd & 4th), Liz Banfield with Luther Fotografie (5th, 6th & 7th), Mooi Belicht (8th & 9th)

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