Dutch term – Trouwen met de handschoen

Sitting bride

Sitting bride. Jacob Merkelbach, 1920 – 1930. Credits: Rijksmuseum

Trouwen met de handschoen literally means “marrying with the glove” and means a proxy marriage. People marry “with the glove” if they can’t be in the same location during the marriage ceremony. The bride or the groom is represented by someone with a power of attorney and the marriage will take place as usual, probably with the exception of the kissing of the bride!

Originally, a glove was displayed to signify the absent party, which is how the procedure got its informal name. The formal name is trouwen bij volmacht (marriage by power of attorney).

I have only ever encountered a proxy marriage once in my research. In that case, the man had emigrated first to make a life for himself and his fiancée. His employer would cover the cost of a wife to come over, but not a fiancée. Rather than him making a costly trip back to the Netherlands, they married by proxy so she could come over, all expenses paid.

Marrying with a glove is still possible if the bride or groom are unable to attend the ceremony, for example because of illness, inability to travel or incarceration. A glove is not enough, it requires a license by the Department of Justice which is not issued lightly.

Want to know the meaning of a term?

This article answers a question by Paul Fekkes, who wanted to know what the term meant. Do you have a Dutch term that you want to learn the meaning of? Just leave a comment and I may write a future article about it.


About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink, CG®, QG™ is a professional genealogist in the Netherlands. She holds the Certified Genealogist credential from the Board for Certification of Genealogists and has a post-graduate diploma in Family and Local History from the University of Dundee. She has been doing genealogy for over 30 years and helps people from across the world find their ancestors in the Netherlands. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.


  1. Jacquelyn Scherrer says

    Hi there! My great grandfather from The Netherlands homestead in Montana and he wrote his friend back in The Netherlands for a wife since women were scarce on the frontier. The friend found a wife, my great grandmother, and then my great grandmother married her by the glove. My grandfather had told me this story about his parents long ago, but I never really understood what “marrying by the glove” meant and I never asked. I was just a child and it never really occurred to me, beyond just figuring great grandmother was a mail order bride. Recently as I started researching my family tree, I began to wonder about the phrase “marrying by the glove.” Thank you for explaining it.

Leave comment