An interview with Wedding Officiant Marijke Plas

Can you tell us a little more about yourself?

I was born in Haarlem as a second child in a family of three girls. As a child, I wanted to become an actress and I was always performing. My parents didn’t think drama school was such a good idea and because of that I went to a retail school as a child from an entrepreneurial family. If I had to prepare a performance at school, I could really look forward to it, I made it a lively story and most of my classmates didn’t understand that I liked it that much. Communicating was always something that I was good at, I was curious and not really shy.

Then I got into modelling. That turned out to be a fantastic time with a lot of travelling and meeting people. It also gave me the opportunity to improve my English and French, something you will benefit from for the rest of your life. I married the love of my life and we are still married nowadays. We do have three children: two boys and a girl. My modelling career came to an end and I started my own events agency . I organized corporate events for 10 years. Next to the events agency I was also a wedding civil servant, I could usually combine those two jobs very well.

Meanwhile the children all moved out and I decided to go to India for a yoga teacher training. And I would never have wanted to miss that either. With great pleasure I give yoga classes and yes….. I am also still an independent wedding officiant at home and abroad!

At which moment did you realize that you wanted to become a wedding officiant? And how did you finally became one?

I attended a wedding of a cousin of mine and I saw how important the job of a wedding officiant is. This person can make a difference on one of the most important days of your life. I saw that the wedding officiant at this wedding didn’t make it personal. It inspired me to see if it would be something for me. I sent an open application to the three municipalities and waited for an answer, I was very much looking forward to it. I was invited for job interviews, but I decided that I preferred to work in Heemstede where I have lived and worked for many years now. Since it was 15 years ago, the criteria were not that heavy. I had an advantage because of my knowledge of languages, and because of that I was hired. The first couple I met was a couple from China, very nice people. They had let the family come over from China and they only spoke Mandarin. So the challenge started immediately at the first wedding. I learned how I could welcome their parents and grandparents in Mandarin. They loved it and from the nerves I forgot the rings at the wedding. Fortunately, the messenger helped me remember. By now, I was a few heart palpitations away. It was the baptism of fire and after that many wonderful moments followed. It added so much to my life.

What are your most memorable moments in your career?

The most memorable moments? There are so many! The preparations that are made, the intense conversations with everyone, the expectations, the anticipation, I often enjoy them as much as the couple itself. Really memorable were my marriages in Hong Kong and in Sri Lanka. In Hong Kong, I married a businessman whose bride did not know there would be a wedding. They travelled with their four children who completed the surprise. The total commotion, joy, surprise, I will never forget it. I performed the ceremonial wedding on the huge plateau on the mountain in Hong Kong in front of the impressive statue of Tian Tan Buddha. And in the Netherlands I performed the official wedding in their hometown.

And in Sri Lanka I married a couple whose bride was an adopted child. After many years she found her family again, a family with a number of sisters. The family that had adopted her was so loving. She wanted to unite the two families on the beach in Sri Lanka during her marriage. Thirty years earlier, the biological mother handed her own child to the adoptive mother, which must have been a chilling moment for both mothers. Now 30 years later, the two mothers came down the stairs to the beach hand in hand with the bride. And then try to keep it dry as a wedding officiant!

How did the collaboration started with The Dylan Amsterdam?

The cooperation with The Dylan Amsterdam started because I had agreed to meet a couple at their location for an interview for their wedding. They had chosen The Dylan as their wedding location, they came from Japan and came over for the preliminary interview. When you come to the Dylan you actually fall into a warm bath. The reception is always very personal. Especially the fireplace gives you a ‘coming home’ feeling, you immediately feel at ease. After this wedding some more weddings followed at this location and then of course you get to know each other a bit better. Because of the location it is of course very attractive to get married there. It is a hidden gem in Amsterdam, the courtyard garden, the totally different venues that merge into one another and of course the Keizersgracht canal in front of the door. All cultures come together and all styles come together, the security of the classical part and the big surprise of the modern Ariana room: everything is connected and it’s right.

What makes you different from other wedding officiants?

Well, I hope I always know how to make a difference. I think the strength lies in having a really good interview and feeling the couples wishes. The more I know about the couple, the families and the circumstances, the more personal my speech becomes. In doing so, I strongly take into account the experience of different cultures. Dutch are very direct, which can be fun, but not every culture benefits from so much openness. I am always looking for some humour in my ceremony, humour and putting things into perspective. And if those two ingredients are not explicit or appropriate, I look for beauty in the word and let myself be inspired. For example, by beautiful imagery or cultural connections.

Finally: do you have any tips for bridal couples for their wedding day?

My big tip for the big day is to let go! As soon as you hired the right people: trust them on their professionality. A good preparation is very important, but on the day itself you really need to be able to let it go in order to enjoy the day intensely.