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A Boat Proposal in Amsterdam Ends With a Wedding at the National Maritime Museum

By Alexandra Macon | Photography by 

Lotte Dagevos-Koster

Marlotte van den Bergh and Patrick Coleman knew a lot of the same people in New York City, but had never managed to officially meet. Then one Valentine’s Day, Marlotte and Patrick happened to be at the same bar. “Pat asked one of my best friends from high school to introduce us, even though I had secretly spotted him at a charity event a few weeks before,” Marlotte admits. The two hit it off and after a few beers, he walked her to a cab, where they exchanged numbers.

The couple dated for five years and visited Marlotte’s home in Holland many times during their relationship. Last summer, Marlotte was back in Amsterdam waiting for Patrick to arrive on a flight that landed at noon, but little did she know he had arrived much earlier that morning and was having brunch with her parents, where he asked them for her hand in marriage. Later that day, the two were having drinks at the Dylan Hotel. “Out of the blue, Pat said he had planned a boat ride for an hour with the hotel when he was ‘bored at work,’ which I thought was weird,” she explains. When they walked to the hotel lobby, a captain led them across the street to a beautiful salon boat on the canal, which they had to themselves. “Pat then told me to stand up so we could take a picture, and as I turned around he was down on one knee asking me to marry him in Dutch: ‘Wil je met me trouwen?’ And I said ‘JA!’”

Once engaged, the couple decided to get married in Amsterdam. After Marlotte saw the glass roof of the National Maritime museum, she knew that’s where she wanted to tie the knot. They worked with planner Lotte van den Hout of With Lotte and designer Vivian Harto-Holla of Griffe Studio on the details, and together they came up with the idea of centering the event around a Dutch blue color theme.

When looking for her wedding dress, Marlotte knew she wanted something simple and very Carolyn Bessette-like. After visiting a few boutiques in New York and failing to find anything like that, she went to Holland later that summer and found a dress by designer Jesus Peiro. “It was simple yet still felt special,” she says. She added a lace overlay by Catherine Deane for the ceremony and finished off the look with rose gold Jimmy Choos. The groom, meanwhile, wore a navy custom Paul Stuart suit with Belgian loafers and a Salvatore Ferragamo tie.

The day of the ceremony,  the couple and their loved ones gathered at a church on one of the canals in the City Center of Amsterdam. “It was a beautiful, Neo-Gothic style church built in the 1880s,” says Marlotte. “We were fortunate to have a priest from Pat’s high school come over to marry us.”

After the ceremony was over, guests crossed the street and stepped on salon boats (the same kind of boat where the couple had gotten engaged) and headed over to the reception at the National Maritime Museum, where cocktails and appetizers awaited. Then came dinner and dessert, which included ice cream served from a belt that held buckets of different flavors and cones. “The band that came recommended was fantastic,” the bride adds. “It was like a concert. The performers even did an outfit change! It was a little hot on the dance floor but that did not stop anyone from dancing all night.”

Toasts were given by the maid of honor, the best man, and the father of the bride. But it was Marlotte’s 99-year-old grandfather who stole the show with his surprise speech. “He spoke beautifully and won over everyone’s heart,” she remembers. “He said: “You [Americans] once sent over your best men to save us during World War II, it is only fitting that we now send over one of our best girls.” Cue the tears.

After a quick change into a strapless mini dress by Romona Keveza and white Rag & Bone sneakers, the couple dance to Stevie Wonder’s “For Once In My Life,” and later had an impromptu special moment when “Angel” by Robbie Williams came on. “In a way that became our wedding song,” she adds. The party kept going until 1:00 a.m., but even then many of their guests weren’t ready to call it a night.  “People ended up at a few different bars until early morning,” Marlotte says. “Pat and I only made it out for a few songs and then left with my siblings to get some much needed fries with mayo—typical Dutch!”