Tying the knot – in any way possible Saying “I do”, walking down the aisle, tying the knot or, less romantic, getting hitched, taking the plunge and even buying the cow (!) – there are as many ways to say you’re getting married as there are ways to celebrate that special day. However, one element is the same for all weddings in the Netherlands: without the civil ceremony, your marriage will not be legally recognised. You can choose to have your civil ceremony at the stadhuis (the registry office). The rates for the ceremony are different in every municipality, so if you want to stay within your budget, this might be worth looking into. Most municipalities offer a basic ceremony at no charge once a week, but as these are in high demand, you can expect waiting lists of six months or longer. A new trend is a simple ceremony at a reduced price. Beach, museum or castle? Did you know that until a couple of years ago you could only get married at the registry office, but a few years ago, the government started recognising other locations as official wedding locations. The location will need to be designated as an official wedding location by the municipality, but after that the choice is yours. How about a beach club in Scheveningen, the Escher Museum in the old town centre of The Hague, or, for a more unusual setting, the fish auction at Scheveningen harbour? If the wedding dress isn’t enough to make you feel like a princess, you can always consider getting married in a castle. Slot Zuylen, near Utrecht, is one of the most beautiful places in the Netherlands to start the rest of your life together. You could even ask the municipality to recognise the bar where you met years ago while waiting for your friends as an official wedding location for one day. Once the official part is over, there are endless possibilities to give the other parts of the wedding a more personal touch. How about including traditions from both your cultures? For example a Chinese tea ceremony or a henna ceremony at a Moroccan marriage. A bilingual ceremony is an option too. While many people combine the official part with a personal ceremony on the same day, another option is to have the civil ceremony at the registry office on a weekday and the big event at the weekend. Something old, something new A tradition that is used by a growing number of African Americans is ‘jumping the broom’. In the olden days, slaves at a plantation were not allowed to get married. If a couple decided they wanted to spend their lives together they would jump over a broom while holding hands. It symbolises brushing away the old life and starting a new one together. Other old traditions are becoming more and more popular as well. A lovely example is the tradition of ‘handfasting’, which involves binding the hands of the couple with ribbon or cord in public to symbolise marriage vows. The tradition is believed to be an ancient Celtic practice. The term, handfasting, dates from late medieval times and is derived from the Old Norse hand-festa, which means to strike a bargain by joining hands. Some sources say it was used as a pre-marital trial period of one year and one day, while others state that the tradition was used by couples in remote parts of the Scottish Highlands where it would sometimes take months before a pastor came to the village. As I was born in Germany, I have attended several German weddings. Many of these weddings had a big wooden log awaiting the newlyweds on the lawn after the church ceremony. The couple has to saw the log using a two-man saw. This German tradition symbolises the unavoidable – but hopefully not too many – hurdles a married couple will have to take together.