Getting Married in Germany: What You Need to Know

German Wedding

Getting Married in Germany: What You Need to Know

Americans Getting Married in Germany need to know how to navigate regulations and traditions when tying the knot. You call it Germany’s “Romantic Road. There are twists and turns, and more than a few speed bumps along the way. For miles and miles, the road passes by hillsides guarded by austere castles and valleys carved out by mighty rivers. However, the views are phenomenal, the experience is a once in a lifetime event, the memories– long lasting and the road, though long, is meticulously documented.

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Getting Married in Germany
It Takes a Plan

Germany is not the place for an impulsive wedding between Germans and Americans. It’s not like getting married in Vegas. With enough time and planning. And using the tips below, you can enjoy a wedding day that is simply Wunderlich!

Required Documents

US Armed Forces are advised to consult the Personal Services Battalion (PSB) at least 9 weeks before your wedding date. So it’s important to already have the required documents in your possession.

According to the US Embassy in Berlin, the required documents vary from region to region. So you should make an appointment at your local Standesamt (registrar’s office).

At a minimum, you will need to show your passport, birth certificate. Your medical certificate should show blood test results. And a document from your home embassy must confirm you are eligible to marry.

Bring appropriate birth and death certificates, divorce, and annulment decree from the Deputy Secretary of State for your state. This certifies the international validity of your documents.

There are no residency requirements. However, many regions require six-weeks’ notice prior to the wedding date.

Marriage Fees

Fees vary and can be high for non-residents. The cost of getting married in Germany depends on your financial status. The more you earn, the more you pay.

Symbols & Ceremony

The Kiss & the Civil Ceremony

In almost all cultures the marriage ceremony ends with the bride and groom exchanging a kiss. The wedding kiss transcends cultures; it bridges tribes, families, and even nations. From ancient times to the modern-day, from the deepest jungles to the tallest skyscrapers, the wedding kiss symbolizes for all people everywhere the physical uniting of two souls.

A traditional German wedding ceremony could last three days. The Civil Ceremony takes place at the city center (or Standesamt located in the Rathaus). And only family and a few close friends in attendance. A civil ceremony is all that is needed to make a marriage legal in Germany and many couples opt only for this simple ceremony.

Wedding Party


The next night is the big wedding party—akin to the rehearsal dinner in the US. The bride and groom invite all of their family, friends, and neighbors. The Polterabend is a wedding tradition to ensure good luck. Guests bring old china to break after the ceremony. The newlyweds must sweep up the broken pieces together; a symbol that they can work together and nothing will ever be broken in their home again. The German proverb–Scherben bringen Glück–which can be translated as “Broken crockery brings you luck.” is derived from this custom.


On the third day, the (optional) German religious wedding ceremony takes place. The bride and groom enter the church together and walk down the aisle together. German brides do not have traditional wedding attendants except for flower girls.

There are few places in the world more steeped in tradition than Germany. And both men and women wear gold engagement rings.

Wedding Reception

A wedding reception follows the religious service. It is customary for the “best man” to steal the bride from the reception and take her to a local pub, and drink champagne until the groom finds them. When found, the groom has to pay for all that they drank. Later, friends of the couple block all the reception site exits with ribbons and garlands. When the couple is ready to leave for their honeymoon, the groom must pay an exit toll, usually the promise of another party.

Mischievous Traditions

Another mischievous custom is to “trash” the home of the wedding couple on the night of their wedding—forcing them to clean up before they can get to bed;

There is an entertaining custom to “punish” men and women who reach the age of thirty and still aren’t married. “Offenders” are taken by friends to the city hall where the men have to sweep the stairs and the women have to clean the door handles. Only a kiss from a “virgin” of the opposite sex can put an end to their cleaning misery;

During the vows, the groom kneels on his bride’s wedding dress. This is to show who will be “wearing the pants” in the relationship. When they stand, the bride might step on her groom’s foot to show otherwise.

More Symbols & Traditions

Another popular tradition involves driving the bride’s furniture to her future home in a cart, with drivers and musicians. At the threshold, the bridegroom greets her with a jug of beer; she, in turn, gives him a pair of shoes, a shirt that she has sewn, and a key to her bridal chest;

As the newlyweds leave the wedding chapel, they throw coins to the children in attendance;

The bride carries white ribbons in her bouquet. After the ceremony, she hands each driver a ribbon to tie onto the radio antenna;

The bride will collect pennies for years to pay for her wedding shoes in which to ensure that the marriage “gets off” on the right foot. The bride’s mother would place some dill and salt in her daughter’s right shoe;

Some German families plant trees when a baby girl is born. However, after she is engaged, the family sells the trees for her dowry.

Incorporating German Traditions

It is becoming more and more common for US service members to incorporate some of the fun and traditional values of their host nation into their wedding ceremonies. These customs offer bridal couples a way to put their own spin on tradition. The German rituals and unique way of life could be a welcomed and unexpected addition to your future nuptials.

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