Yesterday we were invited to a Dutch wedding of one of our Dutch friends and former colleagues at KPNQwest in The Hague: Amber. She married her big love Martijn. It was a very interesting experience and a good opportunity to see some differences between our neighbours in the north and ourselves.
The marriage ceremony itself took place in a hall in the historic 5 stars spa hotel of Scheveningen (The Hague): Kurhaus, right next to the beach. It's a really great location, but in Belgium you always have to have the cival service in the town hall. The civil servant that had to marry them turned out to be a great stand up comedian. Rather than dryly going over the procedures and marrying them really quickly, he just talked to us all and made us all at ease. One joke after the other came and we were just all cracking up. So it was not only a marriage at a great location, it also was really really funny.
Right after the service we had a reception with champagne....and the wedding cake. Interesting combination we think, as Belgians, but apparently a strong tradition in the Netherlands. We also found out that an invitation for the "evening feast at 20h30", actually means that you arrive after dinner already which is served at 17h30. Hmmm, the ignorant Belgians had almost arrived with an empty stomac in the Belgian tradition of going at the table at 9PM until after midnight. Fortunately we did find out at time so we could go to a Mexican restaurant at 5PM (oh great memories came back, nostalgia everywhere in The Hague!). Who eats already dinner at 5 pm anyway?
a bunch of old KPNQwest colleagues: me, Renate (never worked for KQ), Ivo, Amber, Arnaud, Christel & Nathalie). Only Jan was missing on the picture since he is holding the camera ;)
silly us having a good time
The evening party was with a live band which would be quite unusual in Belgium, we usually just hire a DJ. It surely adds something to your party! The only downpart was that they had to take 2 long breaks in which the dance floor got totally empty again and the party just turned into a reception again, so they had to build it up every time again. Fortunately Amber comes from Dutch Limburg ( a region at the Belgian border with Belgian Limburg and Germany), a region known for its parties and carnaval. Soon some of her relatives started singing some regional songs and managed to swing up the party again up to the level of a big carnaval.
a little bit of carneval: the 'polonaise' is international on marriages
I just had to proof that we were served with "meat krokets"!!! How Dutch can it get? ;) yummy though
What all marriage parties have in common across borders is the "faulty" music: all the village people, old disco, cheezy songs where everybody can act silly and little stereotypic danses (e.g. macarena). Those are just a must on a party like this and they were definately present as well.
Renate and Christel doing the macarena
The thing that completely puzzled us was that it ended, when the belgian party would start: at 1 AM sharp. There's one last song (a slow) where everybody makes a circle around the couple to wish them luck. Then the lights go on, people finish their glass, say goodbye and go home. I was just having a really good time, all hyper and energetic and really in the mood to dance. :(. A Belgian marriage always lasts until 5 AM-8 AM, ..... one the last guests leave in fact and the couple remains until the last. If they are really tired, it is possible that they subtely try to stimulate people to go home, but you never actually tell them to go home. We had fun and didn't wanna go home yet.
The rest of the weekend was nice as well. It was really fun to be an entire weekend back in the centre of The Hague, it was one big nostalgia weekend, riding the bus and tram with Jan again, eating in restaurants where I used to go etc. :-).