Most of the citizens in the United States are aware of the traditions related to marriage in the US. June is the favorite month for a wedding. “Something borrowed, something blue”, the “groom’s party” for the parents and wedding party, a “dowry (perhaps)”, it is “bad luck to see the bride in her wedding dress before the ceremony”, the father Of the bride making that long trip down the aisle with her daughter and men, let’s not forget the “bachelor party”!
But in Germany the preferred month to get married is May. Traditions related to marriage in Germany are many and vary by region. Additionally, some of the younger generations may no longer practice the following wedding traditions.
Eheringe (Wedding Rings)
During the engagement period, both the bride and groom wear a ring on their left hand. After the wedding they wear the wedding ring on their right hand. Rings are usually gold without diamonds.
In Germany, as in the United States, the bride wears “white.” But in Germany, brides wear very short or usually no trains attached to their wedding dress. If veils are worn, they are fingertip length and are usually never worn over the face as in the US. A flower headband with ribbons is often worn instead of veils. Other included accessories can be a headband (tiara), a small drawstring bag and gloves. The custom is for the bride to dress at her house or her parents’ house and then drive to the ceremony.
The groom usually wears a black suit or tuxedo jacket (dinner jacket)
Civil Marriage (The Wedding)
Prior to a church wedding, the bride and groom will have been married in the Standesamt (Registry Office) by a registrar who is usually located in the Rathaus (town hall). A witness is needed for the bride and also for the groom.
Together the bride and groom will enter the church and walk down the aisle. Since it is not legal to have only one ceremony in the church, the couple will already have been legally married by a Standesbeamte. Unlike in the US, it is not customary to have bridesmaids, groomsmen, or flower girls.
Other German traditions
Brides often bring salt and bread as an omen of good harvests and the groom brings grain for wealth and good fortune.
Before the wedding, the bride’s belongings are transported to her new home. These might include bedding she has collected, a cradle in which a doll has been secretly placed, and, for a farmer’s wedding, her parents’ second-best cow.
This Bavarian tradition has an official inviter dressed in fancy clothing decorated with ribbons and flowers going from door to door extending a rhyming personal invitation to the guests. Guests accept by pinning one of the ribbons to the Hochzeitslader hat and offering a drink or two at each stop. If the guests are large and the Hochzeitslader accepts the offered drinks, he may need a day or two to complete his duties!
Bachelor party (bachelor party)
A few weeks before the wedding, the groom and his friends go to a Kneipe (pub) to drink and party one last time as a bachelor.
Polterabend (Wedding Night)
At a party, the night before the wedding, plates and plates are broken to ward off evil spirits. Only porcelain can be used. Anything else would bring bad luck. The bride and groom have to clean everything. This is to indicate that they can work together.
Another tradition is for the bride to accumulate pennies over the years to pay for her wedding shoes to ensure that the marriage “starts off” on the right foot. The mother of the bride would place some dill and salt in her daughter’s right shoe.
Another old Bavarian tradition occurs right after the church ceremony. When the couple leaves the Church there is a log on an easel and the couple has to cut the log in half. This is to symbolize the first difficult tasks of your future that you can accomplish together.
spruce twigs (for branches)
As the couple walks to the wedding car, fir branches are placed along the path to pave their first newlywed steps with fresh greenery to symbolize hope, luck and fertility.
Rice Toss (Rico Toss)
In this tradition it is said that the amount of rice left in the bride’s hair is the number of children the couple will have.
The Hochzeitssuppe is made of beef, meatballs and vegetables and is eaten in a large bowl by guests.
a white ribbon
As the guests leave the church, the bride hands a white ribbon to each car driver in the procession to be tied to the car’s radio antenna. This procession then goes around the city blowing its horns. Other drivers on the route honk their horns in return to wish the newlyweds good luck on their marriage.
The first dance is danced by the couple and is traditionally a waltz. The next dance is just for the bride with her father and the groom with her mother, while the mother of the bride dances with the father of the groom.
Brautbecher (bridal glass)
A common toast at reception in southern Germany is made with a special brautbecher (wedding glass). The pewter or crystal cup is in the shape of a maiden holding a small cup on her head. Both ends of the glass (the bride’s skirt and the top glass) are filled with champagne or wine and the bride and groom drink their first toast together from this glass at the same time signifying their union as one. This ancient tradition goes back centuries in the small town of Nuernberg.