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  • Writer's picturemarie

Wedding Customs in Germany

Germany is a country rich in traditions, and its weddings are no exception. Each region has its own unique customs, adding a layer of charm and individuality to the celebrations. Here’s a look at some of the most known German wedding traditions, from pre-wedding festivities to the wee hours of the morning.

Polterabend: The Night Before

The festivities often begin the night before the wedding with the Polterabend. Friends and family gather for a casual party where everyone brings (and than later breaks) porcelain dishes. The sound of smashing porcelain is said to bring good luck to the couple. The bride and groom then have to clean up the shards together, symbolizing teamwork and cooperation in their marriage.

Civil Union: Mini Celebration before the big Party

Unlike in many other countries, German couples typically have a significant celebration for their civil union, known as the Standesamt. This legal ceremony, often held a few days before the religious one, is attended by close family and friends. In Germany, the civil union is a big deal, often involving a festive meal and sometimes even a small party.

Brautverziehen: The Bride's Disappearance

A regional custom known as Brautverziehen involves the bride being "kidnapped" by friends and taken to a local pub or room within the venue. The groom must then find her and often has to perform silly tasks or pay a "ransom" to get her back. This fun and lighthearted tradition adds an element of surprise and adventure to the wedding day. This custom is usually accompanied by a traditional wedding band experienced in "Brautverziehen" - they make sure the event continues to flow and guests know how to participate.

Wedding Day Traditions in Germany

On the wedding day itself, several customs are observed:

  • Spalier stehen: As the couple exits the church, guests form a human archway for them to pass through. This symbolizes the support and love surrounding them as they start their new life together.

Here's an example of my friends that got married in Cologne and had two of the traditional carnival groups form a path for them as they exited after their civil marriage:

  • Tree Cutting: In some regions, the couple must saw a log in half together. This symbolizes their ability to work together and overcome obstacles as a team.

wedding traditions in germany

  • Sitting with Family: Unlike the American tradition of the sweetheart table, German bridal couples typically sit with their families at the main table. This emphasizes the importance of family unity and support.

  • Throwing the Bridal Bouquet: Similar to other Western traditions, the bride throws her bouquet to the unmarried women in attendance. The one who catches it is believed to be the next to marry.

  • Mitternachtssnack: As the party continues into the early morning hours, a midnight snack is served. This can range from hearty sausages to sandwiches, providing much-needed sustenance for the party people!

Partying Until the Early Hours

Germans know how to celebrate, and wedding parties often last until 3 or 4 am. The reception is filled with dancing, singing, and toasting, creating an unforgettable atmosphere. Guests are entertained with music, games, and sometimes even performances by friends and family. Most German bridal couples will make "open ended party" a pre-requisite to confirming a venue.

A Final Note on Wedding Customs in Germany

German weddings are a beautiful blend of tradition, family, and celebration. Each wedding custom in Germany, from the Polterabend to the Mitternachtssnack, adds a special touch that makes the day unique. By embracing these traditions, couples not only honor their heritage but also create lasting memories that will be cherished for years to come.

Are you looking to get married in Germany and want some regional expertise? Let's hop on a call and see how I can help you have a wonderful wedding here!

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