Whether you are an ex-pat living in Germany, engaged to a German partner, or would like to hold your wedding in Germany, then you can learn all about German weddings in this article.
Firstly, we’ll outline how to prepare for a German wedding, followed by what happens on the day.
As you’ll discover below, German weddings are truly unique and full of exciting fun and games.
Preparing for a German wedding
In this first section, you’ll learn about the preparation process for a German wedding.
Engagement in Germany
When it comes to engagement, newly engaged Germans like to announce their exciting news to loved ones in person and, when they do so, there’s a tradition of scrambled eggs being made for the engaged couple!
It is believed that this tradition came to be because the visit is often a surprise and scrambled eggs are quick and easy to prepare.
Stag and hen parties are increasingly popular in Germany and often involve bar-hopping or a nightclub.
During this night out, known as “junggesellenabschied” (for stags) or “junggesellinnenabschied” (for hens), the groom-to-be or bride-to-be is expected to sell items to strangers in the street — often alcohol shots or sweets.
Funding the wedding
Traditionally, the bride’s father footed the wedding bill, but nowadays, it is more usual for both sets of parents and the couple themselves to split the cost between them.
The pre-wedding party
Unlike in the UK, rehearsal dinners don’t take place in Germany. Instead, between one and three weeks before the wedding, the couple’s guests gather for a party — known as “polterabend” — during which they smash lots of porcelain!
Each guest brings something porcelain with them, and it’s not unusual for people to show up with a toilet to break or a trailer full of waste porcelain.
The breaking of the porcelain is said to bring good luck for the engaged couple and banish evil spirits.
At the end of the party, the soon-to-be-married couple clears up the mess together.
During a German wedding
There are many traditions involved in German weddings, so we’ll outline some of the most popular below.
What to wear to a German wedding
The typical German bride wears a white strapless wedding gown with no train, and a veil. The groom tends to wear a black suit or a tuxedo.
There are no rules for what guests should wear — other than not to wear white — unless the couple set a specific dress code in the wedding invite.
You might be wondering: what finger do Germans wear their wedding rings on? Unlike in the UK, Germans wear wedding rings on the ring finger of their right hand.
Couples tend to opt for matching wedding bands, free of diamonds.
Known as “baumstamm sägen”, newlyweds in Germany sometimes like to head outside after their ceremony and saw a pre-prepared wooden log in half together — the couple’s first task as husband and wife.
By combining their strength, they work as a team to complete the task.
The newlyweds will head to the wedding reception only after this task has been completed.
The wedding cup
What is a wedding cup? In German tradition, the newlyweds both drink from a crystal, silver or pewter wedding cup at the same time to signify the joining together of two families.
Party favours aren’t common in Germany, aside from cake from the ceremony. This includes the “Spitzwecken”, which is a 10-foot-long cake that features in German weddings; a long-standing tradition, 10 people carry it and pretend to struggle to get it into the reception room as part of a ritual that ends with the door frame being theatrically broken by an axe and the cake being chopped in half.
Of course, the door frame isn’t really broken; a piece of wood is chopped on top of the door frame instead.
The wedding cake is cut at midnight, and the bride and groom tend to wrestle over whose hand is on top when they are cutting; this is because the person whose hand is on top is said to be the one who calls the shots in the marriage!
The bridal shoe auction
During the reception’s festivities, one of the bride’s shoes will be taken and auctioned off. The groom will place the highest bid and therefore return the shoe to his bride.
Kidnapping the bride
After the ceremony, it is a common tradition in some towns and cities for the bride to be “kidnapped” by her close friends and taken to various bars. In German, this is known as “Brautentführung”.
The groom’s job is to track his wife down through clues left by the group. When the groom finds the bride, he pays the bar bill (the “ransom”) to free his bride and returns with her to the reception.
The wedding night
The final task of the couple’s friends is to make their wedding night as uncomfortable as possible, and so it’s not unusual for the wedding suite to be tampered with!
Often, multiple alarm clocks are hidden after being set to go off at different times, the room is filled with balloons, or the bed is taken apart.
If you’d like to learn about other wedding traditions around the world, you’ll find a variety of articles in our Luxe blog.