This month, June, and year, 2016, I celebrated my ten year wedding anniversary. My husband and I got married in Bavaria, Germany. It was an amazing wedding! How do German wedding traditions compare to American wedding traditions?
My Big Fat German Wedding
1) Germans don’t wear diamond wedding rings.
While Americans do their hugely expensive, bright, heavy blood diamonds, Germans usually do thick, heavy, plain bands, bride and groom matching set, and never diamonds. My German husband surprised everyone, giving me diamonds.
2) Germans wear their wedding rings on the right hand.
Germans wear their wedding rings on the right hand not the left. While this is changing some in Germany, maybe the influence of America, the majority of Germans still wear their wedding rings on their right hand.
*Living between two countries, how do we wear our rings?
When living in Germany and when living here in America, we always: my husband wears his ring on his right hand, I wear my ring on my left hand. Many of my friends, here, have asked how I can be comfortable with my husband wearing his ring on his right hand, especially because he travels so much for work, but I trust my husband and the symbolism of the ring is of faith just as it is faith of trust that I have for my husband. I don’t care how many women hit on my husband; I know he will deflect, if he even notices that he’s being hit on, because I have that great of a man.
3) Germans only do one ring, not an engagement and wedding ring.
Germans usually only have a wedding band and forgo engagement rings. Sometimes, they exchange engagement rings, placing them on the left hand and once married, they move them to the right hand and the rings become the wedding bands.
4) Do Germans have a wedding rehearsal the night before the wedding?
No, they don’t have a wedding rehearsal and some Germans in our village were talking about our rehearsal, asking if it was really like they had seen in American movies….most of our international guests were in awe that we were having a wedding rehearsal!
5) So do Germans have a rehearsal dinner?
Of course not, since they don’t have a wedding rehearsal, but they do have a formal meal following the civil ceremony. More on that later.
6) Civil Wedding
You HAVE TO have a civil wedding in a town hall before a church wedding; meaning you are married before your church wedding via a very formal ceremony. Many Germans only have a civil wedding and forgo a big church wedding.
7) Bridesmaids and Groomsmen?
Ummm, no no and no!! Germans do not have bridesmaids and groomsmen. They usually have 1-2 witnesses, not even seen except for signing papers, and that is all.
German men don’t usually, if ever, wear a nice tux for a wedding. They usually wear a nice suit and even then the standard of what a nice suit looks like is way different in Germany to American norm/standards.
9) Who walks the bride down the aisle?
Usually the father does not walk the bride down the aisle to her groom but the groom walks down the aisle with his bride.
After the Church
10) Family photos?
Family photos via a professional photographer are not common; Germans do not stay in the Church and take family photos following the church wedding. As a matter of fact, all our poor unknowingly German guests were outside waiting, for a long time, while we did our American tradition of family and bridesmaid/groomsmen photos. Finally, once outside, all the Germans lined up and came very formally and seriously to wish us congratulations on our marriage and give us their blessings for the future. They do formal congratulations conga lines instead of family portraits which I have to say, I really enjoyed and found dear….
11) Transportation from the church to the reception?
There is usually some sort of transportation waiting outside to transport the bride and groom to the reception. Same as in America, this can be anything from a special car to a horse drawn carriage.
Germans do not go straight from the church to the reception. There is a car procession after the wedding where all the wedding attendees form a car procession and drive through the town, or villages in our case, honking their horns and others honk back wishing the couple good luck. This was fun as I felt quite formal like a queen in our convertible waving to villagers and getting waves back with our many cars following behind us and all the honking.
Stay tuned for My Big Fat German Wedding Part II: The Reception and Wedding Presents!! German wedding receptions are the best!
If you want to marry a German, Herzlichen Glückwunsch! My wedding was a treasure in itself. Marrying a German, especially in Germany, will make for the best wedding fun and memories ever!
What are some of your favorite wedding traditions? Have you ever attended a German, international, or destination wedding? If yes, what traditions surprised you?