12 steps to planning a complete Dutch wedding – papers included
If you are planning a wedding in the Netherlands, here are nine steps for getting married in the Netherlands, so you don't forget anything important.
Are you an expat in the Netherlands? Do you have plans to get married? Are you engaged? If you can answer these three questions with ‘yes’, then congratulations on your proposed marriage! This guide for expats informs on the important steps in organising a marriage in the Netherlands, plus tips for planning your unforgettable Dutch wedding.
As soon as you have told your friends and family about your engagement, you can think about what to do and how to start organising your wedding. The wedding process can be difficult, especially for an expat as there are a few procedures that must be followed before a Dutch wedding can take place. Get your paperwork ready to plan your Dutch wedding!
From the experience of a staff that comprises some seven different nationalities, Pure Wedding has 12 tips to help your dream Dutch wedding go as smooth as possible.
Arranging to get married in the Netherlands
Step 1: Make an appointment at the town hall for the intention to marry
The intention to marry (notice of engagement or ondertrouw) must be made at the local municipality (Gemeente) or town hall (Stadhuis, Afdeling Huwelijkszaken) of the district of residence where one member of the couple lives. This is the notice of marriage and must be done no less than two weeks and no more than a year before the wedding (huwelijk) is planned to take place.
The municipal office issues a brochure detailing the documents needed. These may vary depending on nationality, previous marriages and residence status in the Netherlands. It is advisable to have documents ready at the time of announcing the intention to marry.
Step 2: Bring the required documents for both partners to your appointment at city hall
You may be asked to bring evidence of any of the following:
- A full birth certificate
- Proof of identity
- Document of authorisation from a legal guardian (if under 18)
- Extract from the municipality registry (Basisregistratie Personen, BRP) declaring marital status and nationality.
- The couple may be same-sex or heterosexual and both parties must be unmarried.
- A marriage certificate in the case of a previous marriage with divorce decree in the case of a previous divorce or death certificate in the case of being widowed.
- Foreign nationals complete a Form M46 (issued by Immigratie en Natutalisatiedienst, IND), available from the town hall.
- Foreign nationals may also need to present a certificate of no impediment to marriage or certificate of civil status proving they are not married elsewhere. This is available from their consulate.
Note: A certificate of no impediment to marriage is issued after a notice of marriage has been displayed at the Consulate General for 21 days, and if no objection has been made about the proposed marriage. It is issued in Dutch. Completed witness forms for the two to four witnesses (they must be 18 or older) should be presented at this time.
Note: There may be a requirement that foreign documents (birth, marriage, divorce and death certificates) be legalised with an Apostile. The relevant consular office can do this.
If the couple both live abroad and wish to marry in the Netherlands they must give notice of their intention to marry at the City of The Hague Registrar's Office:
Gemeente Den Haag, Dienst Burgerzaken, Postbus 12620, 2500 DL, Den Haag | T: 070 353 2810
Step 3: Start planning the wedding
As of this point and until the validation of the intention to marry, you can start planning your wedding by visiting the venues and churches, choosing the wedding date, ordering your wedding dress, and booking a photographer or a wedding planner.
Once you have chosen your wedding date and booked the venue, ave the date cards are an elegant way to request that your guests reserve your wedding date.
Of course, there are plenty of other matters that must be arranged before your wedding day. Perhaps you have questions about the process or you need suggestions for your wedding.
Planning your Dutch wedding
1. Search and book the venue(s) and accommodation(s)
Because many venues and accommodations are booked one year before a wedding, we suggest you start searching and book the venue(s) one year ahead. If your wedding date is flexible, you can avoid the peak season, which is May to September. The low season is October to February. Many venues offer special reduced prices during the low season.
2. Fix the date
You might choose a popular wedding date, like '01-05-15' or '15-05-15'. The benefit is that it is easy to remember. But the disadvantage is that many suppliers double their prices. Choose your wedding date based on your special times: like the date you met or your first date.
3. Arrange the papers (legal issues)
Before you begin the process of registering your marriage, there is required documentation. If either you or your partner is not Dutch, nor an EU/EEA citizen, or in possession of a valid Dutch residency card, you must first contact the foreign police (Vreemdelingdienst) and request a declaration (M46), so that they do not object to the marriage. There are several other documents you will need: a valid passport, your residence visa, attested birth certificates (if not from the Netherlands), proof that you are single, and witness forms.
4. Arrange for the dress
The wedding dress is the most important item for the bride-to-be. To make sure that your dream wedding dress is designed, made and delivered on time, you need to order the dress at least six months before the wedding date.
5. Choose your ‘wedding staff’
One of the Dutch wedding traditions is the 'ceremony master'. A friend or family member usually performs the ceremony master duties. He or she has many tasks to complete and this position can require many hours of planning and coordination with the couple to be married.
However, if you don’t plan on having a ‘ceremony master’, you can hire a wedding planner. This person will assist you with many issues during the planning. The best time to hire a wedding planner is as soon as you know you want to be married.
To ensure that your international guests will be present at your wedding in the Netherlands, you should send them the 'save the date' cards as soon as you have fixed the date and booked the venue. The wedding cards and RSVPs can be sent two months before the wedding.
There are also online services/webpages where you can send virtual invitations and maintain a guest list, or personalise and send your own invitation via email. Then are many ways to reduce costs if you don't opt to send hard copy invitations.
7. Arrange the wedding suppliers
Start searching for and book the photographers, videographers, entertainment, caterers, flowers, transport, wedding cake and rings at least eight months before the wedding.
8. Personalise your wedding
The most unforgettable weddings are ones that are filled with personal details: themes, traditions, music, decoration and food. These details will make your wedding more exclusively you.
9. Embrace your heritage
When living as an expat in the Netherlands, you don’t need to adapt the traditions of your new ‘country’. No one needs to tell you that your wedding will be more personal when you embrace your own traditions. However, it is great to let your international guests make acquaintance with the Dutch traditions or lifestyle. For example: serve Dutch food and drink or rent a canal boat for a sightseeing tour in Amsterdam.
Pure Wedding / Expatica
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