Getting married in the Netherlands: Advice for expats

The Expat Wedding Planner, Beatrice Betley, has over 20 years of local and international experience as a wedding planner for expats. She has all the information you need to help make this next step in your life as smooth and stress-free as possible.

One of the most exciting parts of being an expat is all the new and interesting people you get to meet, especially when one of them turns out to be The One.

Falling in love and getting married to someone from a different culture opens up a whole new world and, in its own way, creates a brand new culture, combining the best parts of both of you.  

Unfortunately, when it comes to expats getting married, there are a lot of things that need to be arranged, from paperwork to a civil ceremony to getting the officiant to your perfect venue. Here are the answers to three of the most asked questions the Expat Wedding Planner gets:

What about the paperwork?

The first and arguably most important step in getting married in the Netherlands is to make sure your paperwork is in order. The requirements may vary from country to country, but the following forms are usually required:

Your birth certificate

This needs to be translated into Dutch unless the original is in Dutch, German, French, or English.

A letter of no impediment

This is a letter from your home country proving that you are not married to someone else. It needs to come with an apostille. This proves the document is an official and authentic document issued by the required country and verifying its authenticity. 

While these two documents are often the only documents you’ll need, be sure to check with the officiant at the municipality (gemeente) where you plan to get married that you have all the documents you need from your country of origin.

The municipality needs to receive these documents, along with the announcement of your intent to marry, at least two weeks before the big day.

What about the wedding ceremony?

There are times that people want to have a quick and simple civil ceremony in the Netherlands, with a small group of expat friends, only to have a more traditional ceremony, with family and friends from home, later.

For the best and most up-to-date information, go to the municipality where you plan to get married and ask about the prices and possibilities.

Occasionally, it is possible to have the ceremony for free. However, free ceremonies are typically reserved for low-income couples, the waitlists are long and the available space is small.

It’s usually better to just go for the regular civil service, which gives you a little more choice on when and where the wedding will take place.

Also, did you know that many beautiful venues are official wedding locations? This means that you don't have to get married in a dull office at your local municipality, but an official registrar can marry you at a destination of your choice. Where do you want to tie the knot? In a castle, a beach club or a modernist museum?

I found the perfect wedding location? Now what?

If you’re planning a more traditional ceremony in the Netherlands, you may be confused about the process. Do you need to arrange the officiant? Do you turn in your paperwork at the municipality you reside in, or where the venue is located, if it is different?

If the chosen venue is an official wedding location (trouwlocatie), and many places are, the venue will introduce the couple to the person who will officiate the wedding. This means that if the service is taking place in the countryside, the couple doesn’t need to worry about the logistics of how to get the officiant to the venue.

Once that is arranged, make sure you deliver all the needed paperwork to the municipality the venue is in, so they can go over it and make sure you have everything you need.

While other questions may come up, like whether there are hotels willing to give discounts for a large party of out of town guests, or what you need to do when you want to get married outside of the Netherlands, these are easily answered. Just remember, getting married is supposed to be a joyous occasion. Try not to get too weighed down by the small details.

Need help planning your wedding? The wedding of your dreams is just a phone call away. Whether it is a small, intimate affair or a huge fancy do, Beatrice can make it happen. Let The Expat Wedding Planner help:
› Telephone: +31 636 532 305 
› Mail: [email protected]

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Beatrice Betley


Beatrice Betley

My name is Beatrice Betley. And, I too, had an international wedding 7 years ago. I was born in Germany and moved to the Netherlands in 1976. After I studied...

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Leave a comment

arjen96 14:24 | 9 January 2018

How does it work if you don't speak Dutch?

Beatrice Betley 10:02 | 10 January 2018

Dear Arjeng Luckily in Holland you do not only have a choice on where you want to get married (it does not necessarily need to be at the municipality) but you can also choose the registrar who will marry you. Most of them have a bit of a CV on the cities website, so you can pick ne that is fluent in English! The actual vows - the Ï Do's" will have to be spoken in Dutch - this is a legal requirement.