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Amsterdam For Lovers

Hot spots to tie the knot Hold the lilies! Marie-Charlotte Pezé discovers quirky venues for every type of wedding For the betrothed looking for an alternative to ‘hotel reception with 1980s carpeting’ or ‘running buffet with lukewarm shrimp’ Amsterdam offers a host of options as distinctive as your love, be it lavish, spiritual, sparkly or… animalistic. Taking the lesser-trod path up the aisle can sometimes save you money to boot.

Holy hofje <$>

Where best to flip the bird at the prospect of spinsterhood than the Begijnhof, a haven for unmarried women since the 14th century? The lovely, peaceful garden still belongs to an association for single ladies, so you can’t go around throwing confetti willy-nilly or setting up barbecues on the grass; but it still makes for a fine photo op and you get your pick of the quaint Roman Catholic chapel and the airier, more flexible Reformed Church. Begijnhof: Roman Catholic Church (622 1918/; Reformed Church of England (624 9665/,

Red carpet ready




Some little girls want to be princesses when they grow up, some want to be movie stars. For a faux celebrity-feel (and a measly €4,000), it’s possible to use Dam Square’s shrine to the famous, Madame Tussauds, to get married with Robert Pattinson’s wax figure (in the room; not as the groom). Madame Tussauds, Dam 20 (522 1010/



Because some fantasise of declaring their undying love by a pile of zebra poop, Artis Royal Zoo provides many options for a fancy reception, including its monumental aquarium, and they’ll even indulge you if you’d like to treat your guests to a champagne picnic. Artis Zoo, Plantage Kerklaan 38-40 (624 5522/

Fertile grounds


The history loaded West Indisch Huis, which has been everything from a meat market to an orphanage since it was built in 1617, is a perfect setting for a wedding on a grand scale. It now belongs to Taste, an events company that’s well versed in throwing lavish, themed parties for up to 800 guests. West Indisch Huis, Herenmarkt 99 (625 7528/


Hortus Botanicus, a bijou paradise of trees and flowers, will host events in one of their two halls at the Oranjerie, let you take photos in the gardens or, starting in 2012, rent out the exotic palm tree green house, complete with vines, for that Tarzan and Jane vibe. For a Spring event, book a good six to 12 months in advance; but the beautiful star magnolias bloom in February if you just have to get married right now. Hortus Botanicus, Plantage Middenlaan 2a (625 9021/

Unsinkable <$>

Many small boat rental companies offer wedding packages (check out but it’s also possible to rent an entire ship. Selfconsciously cool Supperclub Cruise – where ‘Holland’s Next Top Model’ Kim Feenstra celebrated her nuptials – organises custom parties for the high maintenance, such as a tropical party with palm trees and swimming pool on deck. Supperclub Cruise, Ruyterkade Pier 14 (344 6403/

A little on the side A dating service for cheats has its sights set on the Dutch market, reports Laura Owings What’s the secret to a lasting marriage? According to the answer is simple: infidelity. This March, the controversial American dating service is bringing that ‘ideology’ to the Netherlands with its first European launch. The concept is like any other online dating site, but the users are anything but footloose and fancy free. Ohhtel targets people who are trapped in sexless marriages and seeking discrete casual encounters. ‘When there’s a lack of sexual desire from a partner, you have three options: a life of celibacy, a divorce or fulfilling this need

Out of this world <$>

Perfect for a pagan ceremony, Jimmy Woo’s strange cabinets of dead animals and rows of skulls may not please grandma, but will delight Addams Family devotees. Black vinyl wedding dress not included. Jimmy Woo, Korte Leidse Dwarsstraat 18 (626 3150/

elsewhere,’ says Ohhtel’s vice presidnet of marketing Alex Shields. ‘People who come to our site want to stay married.’ Anyone can join Ohhtel and view member profiles for free, but photos are kept in a private showcase and available to those given a ‘key’. That means little is on view except a person’s age, body type, ethnicity and information about the kind of affair they’re looking for (short or long term, online eroticism or anything and everything). Chatting and messaging costs money for men, who top up their accounts with credits to ‘pay as you play’. Female users get to play for free. The site’s stated goal is to give people whose marriages have lost the sexual spark

an outlet that doesn’t spell divorce. But, clearly, the idea that infidelity is a copperbottomed solution to marital problems is a contentious one. ‘It’s a lot easier to go into an affair than counselling,’ says Dr. Nancy van der BergCook, an Amsterdam-based psychologist. ‘Dishonesty doesn’t make for a satisfying relationship.’ Shields contends that the 1.3 million members who have joined Ohhtel in the US and Canada since its 2009 launch demonstrate a need for this service. In the Netherlands, he expects 200,000 users by the end of the 2011. ‘We didn’t invent infidelity, we’re just providing an avenue.’ officially launches on 1 March.

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