Dutch wedding traditions

The Netherlands possesses a rich and storied culture. When it comes to Dutch wedding etiquette, they embrace their traditions and incorporate them in their wedding ceremonies. Invitations by Ajalon comment on the beautiful wedding traditions of the Dutch:

“The Netherlands – land of tulips, windmills, and canals. This progressive culture in the ways of romance and courtship has established some of the world’s most common wedding traditions. The matrimonial celebration is adorned with flowers and foliage and the modern ceremony is split into many different occasions for many different guests. These parties sound spirited and full of fun moments shared with friends and family.”


Here is a look at the most unique traditions of a Dutch wedding ceremony.

Wishing tree

A wishing tree is a lovely Dutch custom, a replacement for a wedding guest book. Guests write down their good wishes on a paper leaf for the happy couple. The newlyweds read out the messages and then tie them to the tree with colourful ribbons. The tree is traditionally set up at the wedding reception and is placed adjacent to the table where the bride and groom are sitting.

Bed of flowers

At the start of the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom are made to walk on a bed of flowers to the altar. Guests also toss flowers over the couple as they leave the ceremony.

Plant a lily

When the couple arrive at the groom’s house, the bride and groom plant lilies in front of the house. The flowers are planted to symbolise their love and it is thought that the act will bring happiness and wellbeing to their home.



Clogs are a national icon of the Netherlands and this is reflected in their marriage ceremonies. Tradition says that when a boy wants to propose to a girl, he should carve a pair of clogs with beautiful designs. He then takes them to the girl in secret and places them on her doorstep during the night. The following day, the boy returns to the girl’s house, and if the girl is wearing the clogs, it is a sign that she has accepted his proposal. At modern Dutch weddings, the bride and groom wear a pair of clogs for their wedding day, then hang the clogs on the wall of their house and decorate them with dried flowers.

Wedding Reception

The reception is one of the most important aspects of wedding. In Dutch tradition it is customary to serve herring at a wedding reception. Other traditional wedding foods include sweetmeats called ‘bridal sugar’ and special spiced wine,  known as ‘bride’s tears’. Dutch brides will usually wear a flower crown, bequeathed to a guest in lieu of throwing a bouquet. It is said that the person who receives the crown from the bride will be the next to get married.

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