Dutch Royal Wedding 17 Years On

We’re going to celebrate this week’s holiday of romance with a look back at a royal love story celebrated at a grand wedding on February 2, 2002.

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In May 1999, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander attended a party at the Seville Fair where he met Argentinian-born Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti, an investment banker based in New York. He did not introduce himself as a prince and when he later confessed, Máxima apparently thought it was a joke. They couple arranged to meet again a few weeks later in New York where, it is understood, their romance blossomed. Prince Willem-Alexander proposed to Máxima on January 19, 2001 while ice skating at Huis ten Bosch Palace and on March 30, 2002, Queen Beatrix and (the late) Prince Claus announced the couple’s engagement.
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Máxima turned to legendary designer Valentino for her dress. Knowing that the wedding would include much movement (travel by car and carriage to civil and church ceremonies), Valentino constructed the dress of ivory Mikado silk, a fabric known not only for its beautiful luster but also for being crease proof. The dress featured a high, open funnel neckline, unembellished bodice and three-quarter length sleeves.  A high-waisted, A-lineskirt inset with embroidered lace panels extended to a five-meter (16.4 foot) train.
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Máxima topped the very regal dress with a couture silk tulle veil hand-embroidered with floral motifs, Swiss dots and a wide scalloped border. The veil was anchored by a custom tiara made from the base of the Dutch Pearl Button tiara topped by five sparkling diamond stars from Queen Emma’s collection. While these diamond pieces combined to create a rather spiky tiara, it was beautifully softened by the voluminous veil and worked well with Máxima’s upswept hair and the sleek bodice of her gown.

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Prince Willem-Alexander wore the uniform of Captain of the Royal Netherlands Navy decorated with the Accession Medal 1980, ribbon and star of a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Lion of the Netherlands, the Officer’s Cross and star of a Knight of the House Order of the Golden Lion of Nassau.
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Máxima was attended by four women (her younger sister, one of her childhood friends and two of Willem-Alexander’s cousins) who wore high necked burgundy velvet fitted jackets over full-length, flared burgundy duchesse satin skirts. Tucked beside their chignons, behind their left ears, were large burgundy silk rose headpieces. Four young pageboys and two young bridesmaids wore burgundy velvet ensembles with pleated cream lace collars.

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The wedding was filled with some wonderfully personal moments that I always welcome at such state events, the most poignant of which was an Argentine tango, played in honor of Máxima’s homeland and parents, who did not attend because of controversy related to her father’s involvement in the Videla regime (1979-1981). Much of the church ceremony, along with the carriage recession back to the Royal Palace in Amsterdam and balcony appearance are included in the video below– start at 22:30 for the tango.
Jump over to these posts to see the hats!

Hats Worn By The Dutch Royal & Zorreguieta Families 

Hats Worn By Danish, Swedish & Norwegian Royal Guests

Hats Worn By Belgian & Luxembourg Royal Guests

Hats Worn By Spanish, Greek, British, Monaco and Other Royal Guests

For now, what do you remember about King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima’s wedding?

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Photos from Getty as indicated

18 thoughts on “Dutch Royal Wedding 17 Years On

  1. It is a pity there are no subtitels to this video: the speech of the Mayor of Amsterdam is solemn, but also quite funny.
    Small detail: Prince W-A didn’t propose to Máxima after an afternoon of roller blade, but ice skating! (Very Dutch.) Máxima later joked in an interview that she said “yes” to him only because she was so cold, she longed to go inside, as Willem-Alexander had promised her hot chocolate after an afternoon on the frozen water.

    • Thanks, Wies- ice skating makes much more sense (I’ll chalk that up to a translation error!). I love all the personal touches at this wedding, something that takes deliberate thought and effort at a state occasion.

  2. A stunning bride and a gorgeous couple. I love the dress, it looks quite “simple” but it’s very well done. Not such a surprise if you look at the designer. It’s great how its fitted at the waist and how the skirt flares out. My only minor quibble is the neckline. Although the positive thing is that it draws all attention to her face, with her gorgeous smile.

    Looking forward to the hats because I remember some VERY special ones.

  3. At the time I wasn’t a huge fan of this dress, I found it to be quite stiff and plain. But over the years I’ve come to see it as the beautiful masterpiece that it is. It’s stunning. The skirt in particular is so well constructed, it provides a slim silhouette at the front which is so flattering, but has fullness at the back, and those lace inserts really define that. The tiara is one of my favourites, star tiaras are a bit tacky for some, but hey; I’m just common! It must be so hard for a non royal bride marrying in, the expectations on the dress are so high and you’re just not used to dressing grandly. She aced it though, as she’s continued to do ever sense. W-A made the best choice ever in Màx.

  4. I love this whole wedding look. The gown and tiara are both among my favorites. I wish we’d see the tiara more frequently, I love the star toppers.

  5. I love this wedding gown. The more dresses I see, the more I like these plainer, tailored styles. It was a bit similar in style to Princess Benedikte of Denmark’s, who also had lace panels “hidden” in deep pleats at the side; but I like this better. For me, Maxima’s hair/tiara/veil were too severe and “upright”; nowadays she does her hair and wears hats with more face framing and that suits her much better. But a beautiful bride, for all that.

  6. Awww, what a pair of lovebirds! Interesting that Max chose a restrained style for her gown. That bodice is so elegant. I guess the more dramatic looks came later.

    Looking forward to the hat recap!

  7. How lovely they are! I do feel for them having to share their wedding ceremony so publicly; what a nice gift to see such love between two people! And what an act of love, for Maxima to learn a new language so quickly, in order to even understand her own wedding ceremony! What a lovely, romantic toast to Valentine’s Day.

    I always feel the same when I look at these two- what they wear is lovely, but the kind of people they are shines through so brightly, that that is the most beautiful of all.

  8. I wasn’t a royal watcher in 2002, so this is a real treat! I love Queen Beatrix’s hat. I am glad it had a brim. I had always thought the wedding was in December because pictures I saw showed the bridesmaid’s dresses were red. I do love the rich burgundy color and am glad Maxima had adult bridesmaids which helped straighten everything out at her every turn. She looked very beautiful and the Argentine Tango scene is very touching. I can’t imagine not having my parents at my wedding.

  9. Máxima was a beautiful bride and she and Willem-Alexander formed a handsome couple.
    It must be difficult to celebrate one’s mariage so publicly, with millions of people watching your every emotion from close up. I think Máxima’s tears and the couple’s apparent love and happiness have endeared her to the Dutch for ever.

  10. It was such an emotional wedding, especially the accordion solo, when the tears trickle down Maxima’s cheek. I love the rich colours of the bridesmaids’s gowns. I can’t wait to see the hats the guests wore tomorrow! One of my favourite moments was the view of the doors opening -for maximum organ volume?- as the couple started down the aisle.

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