Everything you need to know about marriage in Germany
Germany is the second most populous country in Europe with over 84 million residents. The average number of people getting married as of 2017 was over 400,000, and the number keeps increasing. Marriage in Germany is pretty straightforward, with traditional wedding ceremonies and rites alongside legal documents to be tendered during registration.
In Germany, marriage is conducted by a civil registrar and couples have the choice of having a religious ceremony based on their traditions and customs. Foreigners are allowed to marry in Germany, and the country also allows same-sex marriage, which has been in existence since 2017.
In a traditional marriage, it is customary for the father of the bride to walk her down the isle during the wedding procession.
Some of the popular customs in German marriages include the exchange of vows, a couple’s dance, the midnight cutting of the wedding cake, and the throwing of the wedding bouquet by the bride. There is a common belief and tradition that whoever catches the bouquet will be the next person to get married. A German marriage is usually glamorous, with a lot of celebration and legalities involved. Let’s go straight to how a traditional or religious marriage works in Germany.
Traditional, Religious, Civil Marriage Ceremonies
The traditional marriage ceremony in Germany is quite distinct when compared to that of other countries. There are certain rites and traditions that may be perceived as superstitious. However, a traditional German marriage is never complete without these. For marriages done in the church, the custom is for the bride’s father to walk her down the aisle and offer her to the groom. Vows are exchanged and the couples are pronounced husband and wife by the officiating priest.
A religious marriage is a choice for partners who are religious, but the marriage can be done in a local registry office called Standesamt within the city hall of Rathaus of their resident city, where a marriage applicant can be submitted. Foreigners who plan to get married in Germany must have been residents for at least 21 days.
There are some popular German wedding traditions that make the celebration more interesting and are very important in commemorating the day. Some of these traditions are stated below.
Tree trunk sawing
This is a game popularly played in Germany as one of the ceremonial rites, natively known as Baumstamm sägen. It involves the sawing of a length of wood, usually after the ceremony has concluded. The purpose of this rite is to show how well the couples can work together. They have to maintain balance and saw with similar force and speed to successfully cut the log.
In Germany, the bachelor party is referred to as Junggesellenabschied, and it is practiced in an unusual way. Unlike most countries where the bachelor party involves wild parties and getaway rides, the one in Germany has a strange ring to it. The groom or bride has to hawk condoms, shots, and various items to strangers on the street.
The wedding gown worn by the bride in a German wedding is quite different from that of most westerners. The wedding gown usually does not have a very long or elaborate train, and the veil is designed in a simple fashion. The bride has to purchase new shoes and pay for them in cents to signify her prudent spending manner. The bride often keeps a coin in her left shoe. This act has been known to symbolize good luck for the vulture, the groom, and their families.
A German wedding ceremony is never complete without the smashing of porcelain. This rite involves the smashing of porcelain and stoneware by the couples as well as family and friends during the wedding night. It is a popular belief that evil spirits and every form of misfortune or bad luck are gotten rid of by this act. This ensures only good luck and happiness in the lives of the newlyweds.
Steal the bride away
This is commonly referred to as "bride-napping. This is a popular rite in marriages where the bride is kidnapped and the best man has to set up a game filled with puzzles on how the groom can find his wife. The groom has to solve the puzzles and try to locate the bride as soon as possible. During this moment, the bride and whoever accompanied or kidnapped her may share a drink and continue until the groom arrives. He has to pay all the bills for him to successfully rescue her.
Steps involved in marriage registration
The process of getting married in Germany involves some thorough due processes that have to be followed by the partners before they can be legally recognized as married couples. These steps are stated below.
1.The Civil Registry Consultation
This is the first step involved in marriage registration and must be carried out in advance before the planning of the wedding ceremony commences. The couples are required to visit the local registry and book a personal consultation 8–10 months before the desired wedding date. This process must be perfected before the official wedding date can be fixed.
During the consultation, the partners are required to submit some documents as needed by German law or their country of birth in the case of foreigners. The whole process can be carried out in stages, and the partners can choose a time to submit the required documents on the civil registry’s website.
2. Submission of Documents
There are some documents that are required from couples before they can be legally married. These documents are stated below:
- An official birth certificate
- A valid ID or passport
- Proof of current residence in Germany. This certificate must be no older than 14 days, and a person must have lived in that residence for a minimum of 21 days. The certificate is called a Meldebescheinigung, and is usually issued by the local Anmeldeamt.
- Proof of being single
- Certificate of marriage obstruction. This document is used to show that there is no issue with the marriage and may include a death certificate of a former spouse.
The embassy is usually able to provide both a birth certificate and a certificate of impediment. Partners can request these documents from them. The embassy will either grant the request and provide the necessary documents or refer someone to where they can get the required documents.
Foreigners may need to request documents from their home country if they cannot be provided in Germany. They must ensure those documents remain valid in Germany and are equally accepted as legal documents by the embassy or consulate. The documents have to be formally translated into German after they have been legalized.
3. Registration of the wedding at the Standesamt
This is the third step involved in the registration of marriage and must be done at least six months before the wedding date. In some civil registers, the timeframe allowed may be up to 18 months with the inclusion of extra fees and charges Different cities carry out the process in different ways. Some cities, such as Munich, require a postal mail registration, whereas there are other cities that allow online registrations or in-person registrations.
For in-person registrations, both partners are expected to be present with their original documents and copies. In cases where one of the partners is absent due to any reason, they may give their fiancé their ID and take along a power of attorney to do things on their behalf. Couples can choose to marry in any city as long as they get authorization from the local Standesamt in their resident city.
4. Marriage through the registrar
On the wedding day, the couples are required to bring and present their ID or passport and also take along a certified sworn-in interpreter during the course of the ceremony. In civil marriages, it is customary for the couples to bring witnesses or their close friends and family.
The civil registry wedding is usually performed in a simple manner with just mamboes of the family, friends, and a few guests. Couples who wish to have the traditional wedding ceremony and party may fix the celebration to take place after the civil registration is complete. This usually includes a large number of guests, music, dancing, and feasting.
Same sex marriage
Marriage between members of the same sex was legalized in Germany in 2017. According to the law, same-sex marriages also hold the same benefits, rights, and obligations as opposite-sex marriages. Civil partnerships were formally used by married people of the same sex. However, this type of union was subject to fewer benefits and obligations. This was changed in 2017 and marriages of the same sex are now legal and fully protected by the law of Germany.
Marriage Laws, Rights, Costs, and Duties
Laws and Rights
In Germany, a marriage must be conducted by a civil registrar. The choice of having a religious or traditional ceremony after the registration is optional for the couples. Both partners in a marriage are allowed to keep their individual assets after the marriage, and no partner is entitled to the assets of the other unless they are given permission to shift assets. According to the law in Germany, a partner must obtain the consent of the other before trying to dispose of or sell any assets owned. The maintenance of the home as well as the payment of bills and purchases can be mutually agreed upon by the partners. If one of the partners has no job and takes care of the household and children, they are entitled to receive an allowance on a regular basis. In the case of divorce, the legal right to inherit is lost by the spouse. If there is a joint venture or children involved in the marriage, the financially buoyant person must pay the other for maintenance and care for their children.
The general cost of a wedding in Germany ranges from €10,000 to €20,000. This estimate is based on an average-sized number of guests. The couples are allowed to decide how many guests they want and how big they want the wedding to be, which will determine the amount of money they will end up spending on the ceremony.
In accordance with the German tradition, the father of the bride used to pay for the whole wedding. But nowadays, the total cost of the wedding is divided between the couples and their respective families. These traditional weddings can last up to three days in Germany.
There are some certain duties and roles that each partner has to fulfill for the other as well as the children in the marriage. The husband is expected to provide shelter and the basic necessities such as maintenance and education for the children. The decision-making of the household can be shared between both partners, and they can mutually agree on the specified obligations they have to each other and the family at large.
In a German marriage, the wife shares equal rights with the husband and is also expected to take care of the children and household. The primary duty of both partners in a marriage is to show love and care for each other and their children to foster their growth. The spouse making the larger income may give the other spouse regular allowances for the maintenance of the family and household. This responsibility can be shouldered by either the man or the woman, depending on who earns the larger income and the mutual agreement.
Marriage in Germany has some compulsory legal processes the couples must undergo before they can be recognized and protected by the law as "married." The country has various traditions and customs that have been in existence for decades and are still being practiced to date.
Foreigners can also get married in Germany; there are just some steps and rules to follow. People who have a religious background or who would like to have a traditional wedding ceremony are allowed to celebrate after the civil registration is completed. We hope this article has shown you everything you need to know about weddings in Germany.
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