On my recent trip to Amsterdam, locals were quick to point out to me that they have one marriage law that applies to gays and straights alike. They are rightfully proud of the fact that Holland is on the cutting edge of marriage equality—for Dutch citizens. Unless you are marrying a permanent resident of the Netherlands, don’t expect to hop the next KLM flight and tie the knot the next day. But with a little planning, there’s no reason you can’t pull off a memorable, and tasteful, gay destination wedding in the city of canals.
Here are some of my tastey tips.
Tastey Guidance. Even the most anal retentive brides or grooms are going to need
help navigating the logistics of gay nuptials in Amsterdam. Many overseas couples have sought the help of Roland Vos of Dreamweddings.nl—and he was a font of wisdom when I met up with him. Roland has been in the catering and special events business for over 10 years and helps plans both gay and straight weddings. He knows how to navigate around and through various regulations—there are certain rooms and locations officially designated by the government to host weddings. Roland has organized nuptials in everything from an antique train to a hospice.
Tastey Locations. One of the most popular spots for weddings of all kinds in
Amsterdam is Sofitel’s The Grand—a hotel in the famous canal district that looks old world outside, but has a sleek contemporary feel inside. Originally built as a convent in 1578, the building became a site where visiting royalty stayed including Mary Queen of Scots and Maria de Medici. Later, it became a part of the city council, and a chamber in the hotel is where Queen Beatrix was married in 1966. Today, queens of all kinds use the same room for their weddings—with dark wood paneling it is very officious and grand. Just down the hall is the more intimate Marriage Chamber (above) decorated in a 1920s Art Deco style with a mural representing the circle of life.
If you can look past the dramatic stained glass window featuring a heavy dose of heterosexual imagery, you and your 40 guests will enjoy the outdoor terrace and courtyard. For something a little more intimate and traditional Dutch, Roland Vos took me to one of his favorite wedding spots, The Five Flies—a restaurant that’s taken over a series of 5 traditional canal houses. The rooms are packed with historic bric-a-brac and offer multiple possibilities depending upon wedding party size. Another of Roland’s favorite historic location is the West India House, where Peter Stuyvesant signed the contract to establish what would become New York City—as well as the home of slave trading to the new world.
Tastey Celebrations. For an elegant—and green—celebration book the private room at De Kas, a world-class restaurant focusing on local, sustainable produce. De Kas is a little outside the canal district, so for something more central but still modern and contemporary, check out Brasserie Harkema. Just down a cobblestone street, the soaring space is a surprise, and the private room here overlooks the action below. For that bachelor and bachelorette party, reserve a lounge bed at Nomads (above), a Middle Eastern fantasy restaurant from the famous Supperclub folks. The night I was there, a whole gaggle of gays were enjoying the hummus and belly dancing.
Tastey Locals. Amsterdam’s gay wedding event of the year was the ceremony planned by Don Nottet and Arjan De Owit—the oh-so-cute owners of The Queen’s Head bar. The duo were nice enough to take time off from the busy bar to give me some tastey tips learned from their nuptials. For rings: Siebel jewelers, locations all over Amsterdam; flowers: Ik…bloemist, designs the arrangements at the bar; photography: Jan Van Breda, a fashion/lifestyle photographer who does many gay events.
Photo credits: Amsterdam Wedding Chamber – courtesy of Sofitel, Amsterdam Five Flies – Jon Paul Buchmeyer, Amsterdam Nomads – courtesy of SupperClub.
Jon Paul Buchmeyer is the author of the award-winning humorous memoir Alphabet City: My So-Called Sitcom Life and writes frequently for Condé Nast Traveler and Bon Appétit magazines. In addition, he is the author of his own popular blogs: ABCityblog.com and Poptimistic.com.