“We saw each other for the first time in a club called The Palace, which was not as fancy of a place as the name might suggest,” says advertiser Chris Derksen, who first met his wife, HR advisor Anouk Verbakel, while they were both university students in Groningen, a small city in the north of the Netherlands. After that initial encounter, the two were together for nine years, until Chris proposed during an adventurous trip in Iceland.
It was a particularly windy and rainy day, and the couple had their heart set on reaching a bright, orange lighthouse located on rugged, black volcanic cliffs. After Chris convinced Anouk to walk a few extra miles through the volcanic stone to reach his intended proposal site, he asked her to turn around and face the lighthouse and ocean to take a photo. When she turned, Chris was on one knee with a ring. “After a few pictures in the hard wind but with huge smiles on our faces, we walked back to our car and drove back to Reykjavik, talking about how Chris prepared this and what the heck had just happened!” says Anouk. “In our Airbnb, Chris had arranged champagne and lots of roses, so we ended the day in a beautiful local restaurant.”
In the Netherlands, it’s tradition for couples to have a late morning ceremony followed by an afternoon cocktail reception, and then a big party in the evening with all of their wedding guests, which meant that Chris and Anouk had to find not one, but three venues for their special day. The couple started looking at places in Amsterdam, but eventually settled on throwing their wedding in Breda, Anouk’s hometown in the south. They picked a small church for their ceremony, an old fish market next to the canals for their reception, and a trendy hotel for their big party. “We instantly loved everything about Hotel Nassau,” says Chris. “It’s an old monastery and now a high-end hotel, which has been restored to its former glory. It has beautiful rooms, a gorgeous restaurant, a hip bar, and the amazing old chapel that can be used for parties.”
Another Dutch tradition is to skip the wedding planner and have friends help organize the wedding instead. “The couple asks their best friends in the bridal party to be the two masters of ceremony,” Anouk explains. “Along with the bride and groom, the arrange everything in the months before the wedding. It’s like having a second job—but it’s also a very fun period of time to spend a lot of time with your closest friends and family.”
Anouk knew that she wanted to search for her wedding dress at a small boutique shop in Amsterdam called “I Do, I Do,” and she found just what she looking for in a dress by Spanish designer Jesus Peiro. She combined it with a lace veil, a white golden bracelet she got from her mother, pearl earrings she received as a gift from her parents on her wedding day, and champagne glitter heels from Zara. When it was time to change for the evening party, Anouk only switched out her earrings to a sparkly chandelier pair and slipped into comfy silver sneakers.
Chris, meanwhile, wore a three-piece suit from Suits for Dudes, a custom, made-to-measure store in Amsterdam, which is run by one of his old Groningen roommates, and had their wedding date, June 16, 2018, sewn inside. His shoes were handmade from Meermin, his tie came from Suit Supply, and his silver cufflinks were a gift from his wife. As for his evening look, Chris changed into a red-dinner jacket, also by Suits for Dudes, and paired it with a pocket square from Suit Supply.
The night before the wedding, Anouk slept at her parents’s house in Breda with her best friend, while Chris woke up at his parents’s home in Utrecht. One of his best friends came to pick him up in the morning with a glass of champagne in the car to celebrate, and together with his parents they drove to Breda. Once Anouk was dressed and ready, it was time for the “stair scene,” a Dutch tradition where the groom, parents, and wedding party all wait at the bottom of the stairs to see the bride for the very first time in her wedding dress. After that, Anouk and Chris cut the cake (yes, in the morning!) and enjoyed a slice with champagne.
From then, the couple hopped in a gorgeous red vintage car for their ride to the church. Chris and his mother began the ceremony procession, walking down the aisle to Ray Charles’s “Hallelujah, I Love Her So,” followed by a group of nieces and nephews entering the church with a banner that read “Here Comes The Bride.” That’s when Anouk and her father had their big entrance to cheers and applause, while “Here Comes The Sun” played in the background. Friends and family gave speeches throughout the ceremony, and after the couple exchanged vows, a very loudly cheered kiss officially sealed the deal. “We waited for all of our wedding guests to come out of the church and then exited welcomed by our guests and a very cool jazz band,” Chris recalls. “With the band and our guests, we walked through the gorgeous old city center to the old fish market. Lots of Breda people were congratulating us and coming outside to look at what was going on. It was very, very fun.”
After the reception, which included al fresco bites and beers, the newlyweds and their families walked over to Hotel Nassau and relaxed for a bit, before changing into their evening, black tie outfits. The couple met with their family at the hotel bar for some pre-dinner drinks and later went upstairs, where an intimate meal and toasts awaited. “After dinner, we looked down out at the room below us and saw more than 200 people enjoying their first drinks,” Chris says. “It was time to go down and open this party!”
The couple’s first dance was to Coldplay’s “A Sky Full of Stars” and then an all out dance party erupted with plenty of confetti poppers providing an extra layer of fun. “We had an amazing cover band that really blew the roof off the place,” the groom adds. At the end of the evening, the couple was waved off in a hotel trolly with cans trailing behind it. “We were being pushed out by Chris’s older brother and he kept looping us back around into the party—it was hilarious,” Anouk adds.