Wedding Traditions: Wedding Customs in Germany
Wedding traditions vary worldwide as a reflection of the culture’s views on love. Germany’s wedding customs are often focused on promoting the couple’s teamwork and love. There are also a lot of fun games and pranks to foster happiness for the loved ones!
Attire is our favorite part of wedding traditions—we love seeing how different cultures outfit their bride and groom!
German brides traditionally wear white gowns—the Germans were actually one of the first cultures to make white the wedding color! Ball gowns are popular, but long trains and ruffled skirts are uncommon. Most brides will wear a fingertip veil during the ceremony and first dance of the reception—and then she lets her hair down! Grooms dress in traditional black suits or tuxedos. It is a very elegant, classic idea of wedding attire!
There’s also a loving German tradition when it comes to wedding shoes! From a young age, little girls start saving up their pennies in a separate piggy bank. These pennies are used to purchase her wedding shoes (hochzeit-schuhe), so she will start her marriage off “on the right foot.”
Before The Wedding
German wedding festivities often happen for days leading up to the actual event. There are a lot of fun games and traditions that the family and guests partake in, but none are as important as polterabend. This is a loud and noisy custom meant to scare evil spirits away from the couple.
The night before the wedding, there is an informal gathering of the wedding guests.After eating, plates and dishes are smashed! Only china and porcelain are used because breaking glass is considered bad luck. These loud noises not only keep the evil spirits away, but this also symbolizes that other things may break, but the marriage never will.
The couple then cleans up the mess together to show their marital teamwork!
The German ceremony is filled with rituals and traditions dating back hundreds of years. But here are some of our favorites!
When processing down the aisle, a bride will carry salt and bread and the groom will carry grains. This brings them good luck and wealth, and together they have all the essentials for a good harvest!
As the couple is kneeling during their ceremony, the groom will intentionally kneel on the bride’s dress to show that he is the boss in the relationship. But don’t worry, ladies, when they stand back up, the woman steps on the groom’s foot to remind him who’s really the boss! We love this flirty and goofy way to show their future partnership!
On their way out of the church or ceremony hall, they take part in baumstammsägen. This is when the bride and groom saw through a log together on a sawhorse! This shows their teamwork and their ability to do chores together.
Then they are showered with rice as a show of good luck and fertility. It’s said that every grain of rice that sticks in the bride’s hair represents a future child!
One of our favorite parts of German traditions is the pranks before and during the reception! For example, friends of the bride and groom may prank the couple’s bridal suite by messing up the bed, setting alarm clocks everywhere, hiding goofy gifts, and more. The couple returns after a long night of partying at the reception to a disorderly, pranked room!
German wedding traditions are very light-heated, entertaining, and loving!
Photo by Jessi Marri Photography