Dutch Wedding Traditions and Customs
A wonderful Dutch custom that can be substituted for the guest book is to create a wedding "wish tree." At the reception a beautiful tree branch is placed next to the bride and groom's table, and paper leaves attached to pieces of colorful ribbon are placed at each guest's place setting. Guests write their special wish for the happy couple on their leaves, which the bride and groom can then read and hang on the tree.
The bridal shower tradition actually originated in Holland where if a Dutch bride's father disapproves of her choice of a husband he would not offer her a dowry. When this occurs, the bride's friends would "shower" her with gifts of household items typically included in her dowry. If the family approves, the bride would receive a trousseau (dowry) from her parents and her future father-in-law would give her a "chatelaine," which consists of a chain or rope made of silver or leather that contained various items such as a pair of scissors, a pincushion, a needle case, a small knife, and a mirror.
Before the ceremony, the bridesmaids would fill the bride's basket with green garlands and flowers as well as decorate the groom's pipe with garlands and ribbons. The bride's house was painted green and the families would host a party where the couple would sit on a throne beneath pine trees as their guests came to bless them and wish them happiness.
During the ceremony, the bride and groom walk on a bed of flowers to the altar and flowers are tossed at them as they depart. During the reception traditional items would be served including sweetmeats called bridal sugar and spiced wine which was known as bride's tears. Instead of tossing her bouquet, the bride would give out her crown, and whoever got it was the next to be married. Finally, after the wedding, the newlyweds planted lilies of the valley around their house to symbolize the return of happiness and with each season their love would be renewed.