International wedding planners

Today we continue our series featuring international wedding planners. We are delighted that Annelies and many of her Dutch wedding planning colleagues are joining us at WPE 11 on Saturday 5th March. It will be wonderful to compare notes with them. For a little taster read on:

Annelies van der Gulik, runs wedding planning company Trouwgemak in the Netherlands. As one of the founders of the Dutch Association of Wedding Planners in the Netherlands, Annelies has organised a study trip to London this March. She answers the questions partly from her own point of few, partly for all the Dutch wedding planners.


Why did you become a wedding planner?

About 7-8 years ago there were hardly any wedding planners in the Netherlands, maybe 2 or 3. Dutch couples just love to plan the whole wedding themselves, they still do! But more and more, we found out that working couples didn’t have the time to do it all themselves. Now, we have around 80 wedding planners in the Netherlands who just love being part of this special day!

What’s your USP? (Unique Selling Point)

Being able to totally understand and translate the wishes of the couple and not putting my own mark on the wedding. It is their wedding day, not mine….

What’s your signature dish? 

We Dutch are very traditional and we love family gatherings. In wintertime, we have “Boerenkool met worst”, which is cabbage, and I just love having the whole family over for dinner. But we Dutch also love Italian, French, Spanish and Chinese food…..we eat everything! As long as we can be together and have friends over or go out for dinner, you won’t hear us.

Do you have a favourite venue?

O yes, I personally love everything in and around Amsterdam. We have beautiful hotels here and little tiny restaurants. Have the guests on a lovely salon boat tour through the canals and then have dinner in one of those beautiful spots. Especially if the couple have foreign guests, this is a very popular wedding. I also love the little castles we have all through the Netherlands where it is cosy and classy. That combination works perfectly for Dutch couples.

How would your clients describe you?

Nice question!! They would describe me as very calm, very relaxed, happy, energetic and sincere. Which is really funny to me sometimes, because I can be very stressed about something, but apparently, nobody notices…..My vendors love doing weddings with me because we have so much fun together on wedding days!

Have you ever had a challenging client and how did you deal with it?

The American shows on television where they have bridezillas, we unfortunately have them here as well…. And I have now dealt with a bridezilla but also a true groomzilla. I must say it was horrible and I was really sucked into the situation, didn’t know how to escape anymore. Looking back on it, I have learned so much about myself and how in the future, I could deal with someone differently. I can look back and appreciate what has happened because it has made me a stronger person. I cannot believe that I am writing this down, because it really, really was horrible at the time!!!

If you could plan a celebrity wedding (alive or dead) whose would it be?

Nice one….let me see. I would love to do the wedding of a really nice and kind and human celebrity!! I think it is all about personality and the way you are treated by your couple. I will do anything, really anything for them, as long as I am treated with respect. So……Prince Alexander and Princess Maxima would be lovely to do!!! It will be such a challenge to create a wedding that will be timeless.  

Is the job as glamorous as you thought?

No, not at all! It is hard work being a entrepreneur and above that, being a wedding planner. Here in the Netherlands, we all have our own small offices, being alone all the time. Of course you have meetings with your couples and vendors, but at the end, you’re alone. And that makes it hard sometimes. But when a beautiful bouquet of flowers is delivered saying “Annelies, you really did it, you are the best, thank you!!”, that makes it all worthwhile!  

Which wedding planner’s work do you respect/admire and why

It depends. When I see a wedding planner being successful with one of the beautiful weddings she organizes, I am proud that she is one of my “colleagues”. When I hear a story about someone dealing with a bridezilla, I am proud again. You cannot do this job in the Netherlands without being happy about other planners’ achievements, you won’t survive. The country is just too small…..  

What’s your biggest achievement since launching?

That in six years time, my business has grown to be one of the best wedding planner companies in the Netherlands and that I have become a role model for other planners. I am very proud about that and that is why I have decided to focus more on training and coaching other wedding planners. That way, in a few years time, we will be even better in our profession than today and it will be very common for couples to actually hire a wedding planner. You just cannot do without!

 What is your vice? 

 Haha, that will be those romantic movies: Notting Hill, Four weddings and a funeral, Sense and Sensibility……I really cry watching those…..I know, it’s silly, but I can really relax and have a moment to myself in watching romantic movies!

 What do you expect from your visit to the UK?

 We are really looking forward to seeing some beautiful locations and learning more about the London style of weddings. How are weddings in comparison to our weddings? Once we understand that, we might be able to expand our businesses in encouraging couples who want to have a UK wedding.

But above all, we are really looking forward to meeting our colleagues in the UK! We can probably learn a lot from each other and we are looking forward to the seminar and being part of the UK Alliance for a day! 

 Thank you Annelies, we are looking forward to meeting you!

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