Love & Marriage: My First Belgian Huwelijk

The happy couple

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the wedding of Billy’s sister, Natasja and her fiancé Jelle. I was really excited for the occasion after hearing all of their plans for the past couple months. This was an eagerly awaited event for me, especially because I was curious to see the differences between a Belgian wedding and a Canadian wedding. I found out that the traditions and ceremonies are quite similar, and like Canada, a wedding’s uniqueness evolves from the couple themselves.

After the civil ceremony at N & J’s local city hall in Brussels

Natasja and Jelle decided to have a weekend wedding with a very clear vision and concept. Family would attend the civil ceremony in Brussels on Friday afternoon and then we all would drive down to the Ardennes for a weekend celebration. This was the first civil ceremony I’ve attended and it was considerably shorter than a church wedding. Although, the couple wed in Brussels, the ceremony was conducted in Flemish rather than French.

Friday, after we arrived at the wedding location, we enjoyed a big three course homemade supper. Natasja and Jelle asked their parents, as well as, Jelle’s sister and her partner to each make a dish and it was divine. Already by Friday evening, I loved their concept of the ‘weekend wedding’. There’s time to relax and visit, as well as help out with preparations.

The villa was the ceremony and reception was held

Outdoor shot of the villa and surroundings

Beginning of the ceremony

On Saturday, they arranged their own wedding ceremony which included speeches from friends and family, their own personal vows, and an original tango dance by N & J. The weather was absolutely perfect the whole weekend, an autumn miracle, because the temperature was above 20 degrees the entire weekend. The leaves of the trees had turned into their autumn hues and we were staying in a beautiful two wing villa, which was both modern and rustic, that we had all to ourselves. Incredible!

The couple’s tango dance

Party People

The night began with bubbles from the Loire Valley accompanied with light snacks. The menu featured seasonal autumn flavours that are typical of Belgian cuisine. Dinner was served in a non-traditional manner, as it was new spin on a buffet. Guests could come to collect any of the six courses but had the flexibility to opt out of a dish if they chose to. There was a bread, salad, and dip table to go with the dishes with many vegetarian friendly choices. Wine and beer flowed freely and soon everyone made their way to the dance floor. The usual wedding dance shenanigans ensued… some thing Belgians and Canadians seem to have very much in common!

Outside of the Villa, located in the beautiful village of Séchery, Belgium.

Sunday Lounging

Many of the guests were able to stay in the villa as it has rooms to accommodate up to 60 people. On Sunday, the guests could meet in the kitchen for a late brunch and leave at their leisure. It was wonderful to be able to enjoy the grounds of the villa in the hot autumn sunshine. The birds were singing and the air was crisp and fresh. This was quite possibly the best hangover cure ever…

The wedding was a truly delightful occasion and I’m grateful to have been invited. It was so lovely to share the day with N & J and both of their families. They threw a fantastic wedding celebration and I wish them all the best in their future and a happy bon voyage for their honeymoon in South Africa!