Something Unusual - Being a Glove Bride

My mother, the glove bride with her straw groom.
My mother married a glove - in Dutch: met de handschoen getrouwd. This rather intriguing phrase conjures up an image of a bride saying I do to a giant glove! But it was not just a glove, there was a straw groom - stro bruidegom - a stand-in for the groom.

My post for week 39, 52 ancestors challenge, concerns this unusual custom that once was standard practice to unite in marriage those separated by a great distance.

As far as I know and as it was told to me by my mother this practice arose in the days of the Dutch East India Company, the VOC. Apparently the VOC ran orphanages in Amsterdam and the girls were married off to VOC officers in the colonies. They didn't know each other, these were arranged marriages. So a pair of gloves was how they matched up the couple, one was kept with the girl and the other sent to the groom. Once the girls arrived in the Dutch colonies in the East or West Indies, the gloves were matched up and the marriage confirmed.

The stro bruidegom refers to the practice of marrying by proxy with a stand-in for the groom. So my mother married in Bussum, the Netherlands, with her brother-in-law, dad's younger brother Cees, as her stro bruidegom.  Two weeks later she travelled as a married woman to Calcutta where her "real" wedding took place.

Why didn't she just travel over there? Well, my father's employer, The Netherlands Trading Society had a policy of only paying for the travel costs of spouses.  And my father at the beginning of his career did not have the funds to pay for her travel himself. So that's how my mother married a glove!


  1. you might like this article

    1. Thanks very much, good to see my memory wasn't too far off the mark. Interesting site too.

  2. Fun to read your stories. My Mum also married 'a glove' with my Dad's older brother standing in. My Dad was in Indonesia. This was in 1947.


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