German wedding traditions are older than Christianity. They have evolved over time, but their roots are still prominent. Those of you who wish to include all these traditions and customs in your wedding, can take a look at the list that has been presented here. These traditions are fun and usually last for a whole of three days. Take a look at these traditions and decide which ones you would like to include in your wedding.
Stages of Traditional German Weddings
The traditions have been divided here based on the events occurring on the day before the ceremony, during the ceremony and after the ceremony.
Before the Wedding Ceremony
On a day before the wedding ceremony, traditional German weddings follow these ceremonies.
- At the engagement, the couples exchange gold bands, worn on the left hand.
- For the couple, a wedding newsletter, Die Hochzeitszeitung is created, that speaks only about the couple, described with pictures and stories. It contains anecdotes, mock interviews and pictures from childhood into teen years, up to the marriage. This is created by friends and family of the groom and the bride. It is then distributed as a wedding souvenir once the ceremony is completed.
- On an evening before the wedding, a party is hosted at the house of the bride's parents. No formal invitation is sent to guests, as it is taken for granted that everyone knows about this tradition, and will attend the event if they wish to. The food served here is a home-cooked buffet, to which some guests may contribute. This event is known as Der Polterabend, a kind of a rehearsal dinner, where guests bring statuettes, dishes, crockery, and flowerpots and smash them on the pavement outside the house. The couple is then expected to clear up the mess and discard it together. This is a tradition that is known to bring luck to the couple, and drive away evil spirits.
- Another interesting tradition is one where the bride is to buy new shoes for her wedding, and pay for them with coins that she has collected since childhood. This is a symbol of the bride's capacity to be able to control expenses. This tradition is known as the Hochzeitsschuhe.
The day of the wedding ceremony is full of fun and excitement, and includes old rituals that you may follow if you wish to have some real fun!
- The wedding is first conducted in the form of a civil ceremony at the registry office, attended only by close family and friends. This is followed by a religious ceremony at the church during the day, ideally before noon, as this time is considered lucky.
- For this ceremony, called Die Hochzeit, the groom picks up the bride from her home, traditionally in a horse-drawn carriage.
- They enter the church and walk down the aisle to the altar together. The aisle is strewn with flower petals as the couple walks down the aisle. This is in order to attract the goddess of fertility with the scent that emanates as the couple steps on the petals.
- The bride wears a traditional floral wreath, decorated with jewels and beads, which is worn until midnight. If the bride is a first-time bride, she carries a bouquet made of myrtle. She wears a white gown that has been worn for generations and passed down.
- While the ceremony is conducted, the bride and groom hold candles in their hands that are decorated with flowers and ribbons.
- Immediately after the ceremony, as the bride and the groom leave the church, they are faced with a heavy log placed on two sawhorses. They must saw their way through, to be able to get out of the church. They are given a whipsaw that is old and rusty, and that is pulled on either side which means they have to work together. This is a symbol of the couple's necessity to solve all problems that they may face ahead, together. This tradition is known as the Sägen.
- The tradition that follows is Der Autokorso. A white ribbon is given to every car driver after the wedding, which is meant to be attached to the antenna of their cars. They then all start driving towards the reception venue, while honking incessantly.
After the Ceremony
Wedding receptions also contain a few fun rituals, which are indeed as interesting as the ones before and during the ceremony.
- After the wedding ceremony, a luncheon is hosted by the bride's parents either at their residence or at a hotel. This continues right into the evening with an informal buffet followed by a party.
- The purpose of this event is to include as many people as possible, so more guests usually join the party during the course of the day. Those with children are particularly invited, as it is considered good luck. This event is called Der Hochzeitsschmaus.
- During the reception, the guests try and distract the groom while some others kidnap the bride and take her to a pub in the vicinity. It is the groom's job to track her down, with the help of clues in the form of written notes, and pay the bill to win her back. He may also have to do other things such as sing her a song, or promise her a lot of things before he can have her. To keep this event fun, the bride must be kept entertained throughout, and the couple must return to the event quickly. Else, the fun dies down and the party comes to an end. This tradition is called Die Entführung der Braut.
Other German Wedding Traditions
There are some older wedding traditions that you may like to include in a German wedding.
- The entire wedding ceremony and reception is to be paid for by the bride's parents. However, nowadays the cost is equally split among both sides.
- According to old traditions and customs, the bride would wear a black dress while getting married, but with a white veil that was a symbol of her purity. At midnight, she would dance alone, but in the presence of other unmarried women who would try to tear pieces of her veil. The one who got the biggest piece would be considered the next to get married. This custom marked the change of the bride from a girl to a woman.
- This tradition has been modernized where the bride is blindfolded with her veil, and made to catch unmarried girls. The one she catches first is the one who'll marry next.
- Finally, after the reception, the festivities continue with the guests who have stayed over on the next day. All the decorations are removed during this party. This custom is called Hahn Holen.
Here's a look into some more wedding traditions around the world. If you wish to get away from the monotony of a regular wedding, and include some of these unique German wedding traditions to make your wedding fun filled, choose from any of or all of these traditions and make the most special day in your life more memorable!