• Germany's news in English
The Local List
10 things you need to know before a German wedding
Photo: DPA.

10 things you need to know before a German wedding

The Local · 13 Jun 2016, 17:17

Published: 13 Jun 2016 17:17 GMT+02:00
Updated: 13 Jun 2016 17:17 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Traditions of course vary from region to region - just as much as the dialects of Germany do.

Here are some things you might witness the next time your friends get hitched.

1. Polterabend


A photo posted by @heikideiki on

Literally meaning “eve of making a racket,” this is usually the night before the wedding when the couple throws a big party for friends to basically smash a bunch of porcelain - for good luck, of course.

This isn’t a very formal occasion as invites aren’t sent and traditionally it just spreads by word of mouth. Part of this is so people can come who aren't otherwise invited to the wedding itself, which tend to be smaller in Germany of around 100 people or less.

At the end of all the dish-breaking the bride and groom generally work together to clean it up - as they should for everything else for the rest of their lives.

2. If there is a bachelor/bachelorette party...

A wax figure of tennis player Boris Becker, representing his own bachelor's party selling goodies. Photo: DPA.

Stag or bachelor parties are much more common in the UK or US, but if Germans take on the tradition, they call it Junggesellenabschied - literally just bachelor's farewell, but maybe not so easy to say.

One of the requirements of the German bride- or groom-to-be is that along the party-hopping way, they must sell things like shots or condoms to people that they meet in the streets, carried about on a little tray.

3. Best men and maids of honour

While Americans generally have a whole gaggle of groomsmen and bridesmaids to escort the happy pair along the procession, Germans tend to just have one trusted person each.

The Trauzeuge/Trauzeugin (wedding witness) has an important role throughout the process, but unlike in other countries can actually be any gender for both the bride and the groom. This is usually a close friend or relative, and they might do things like plan the stag or hen party, or help kidnap the bride (more on this later).

4. Honking the horns

You've probably seen (or rather heard) this German tradition on weekends before. It's customary that after the wedding ceremony, everyone drives to the party venue with their car antenna somehow decorated, honking their horns the whole way there.

Whether you honk your horn as an outsider simply driving along is up to you.

5. There may be tree trunks

It’s quite common to play games at German weddings, and one of them for brides and grooms is Baumstamm sägen - sawing a tree trunk. After the ceremony, the couple embark on their first real challenge together: sawing a log of wood in half.

With one on each side of the saw, the bride and groom work together to sever the chunk of wood, hopefully proving their strength as a couple.

But don't worry: there will be plenty of other games for guests the rest of the night, generally various ‘battle of the sexes’ type activities.

6. Kidnapping the bride

Another sort of wedding game is the Brautentführung or kidnapping of the bride. Close friends will at some point "kidnap" the bride after the ceremony, dragging her from bar to bar while the groom tries to find them.

The cheeky kidnappers might just also leave the bill behind for the groom to foot.

7. The veil dance

While Germans may also throw the bride's bouquet to single women during the party, another more German tradition is the Schleiertanz - the veil dance.

This involves taking the bride's veil and having the couple dance under it. When the music ends, single women will try to rip off pieces from it and whoever gets the biggest piece is said to be the next to marry.

Another variation is that people will throw money into the veil while the couple dances, buying themselves a dance with one of the newlyweds.

8. The wedding cake power play

Story continues below…

 Photo: DPA.

Midnight is when Germans often choose to cut the cake. 

And take note when they do: it's said that whoever has their hand on top during the slicing is the one who "wears the pants" in the relationship. Knowing this, the couple may end up playfully fighting over their hand positions.

9. The rings

 Photo: DPA.

Engagement rings aren't actually such a big deal in Germany, and some couples never bother with them. If there is one, it's generally worn by the woman during the engagement period on the left hand, and then either switched to the right hand after the ceremony, or not worn anymore once the pair are married.

And both the man and woman will wear their wedding rings on the right hand - unlike in other Western countries.

10. A proper German homecoming

One tradition - though not as common - after all the wedding hullabaloo is that friends of the couple will fill their new abode's bedroom with balloons. When the newlyweds show up, they have to pop them all before they can really start their lives together.

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German town, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd