Getting Married in Germany - All you need to know

Updated on
March 18, 2024
Table of contents

In Germany, marriage are considered legal unions, and essentially legally binding contracts between 2 persons. The union is protected under the German Constitution. Persons getting married in Germany only need to appear physically at a Standesamt for a civil ceremony. Witnesses are not required in this case and a religious ceremony is optional.

Documents and Requirements when Getting Married in Germany

The civil registrar's office in each region of Germany can provide the exact information on the required documents and process of getting married in Germany. However, typically the following documents are required by both partners with the registrar:

  • Certified true copy of identification document with photograph (e.g. passport, identity Card)
  • Birth certificate (not older than 6 months) in original or as certified true copy showing parents' names. A translation might be required. A baptismal certificate is not acceptable. Certificate of Naturalization must also be exhibited if applicant has been naturalized.
  • If widowed, original death certificate or certified copy of deceased spouse. A translation might be required.
  • If divorced, a certified copy of the divorce decree accompanied by a translation into German made by a certified translator.
  • If the previous marriage was dissolved by a court other than a German court, the divorce decree might have to be approved by the appropriate German federal-state administration of justice department.
  • If one of the fiancés is a minor, a statement executed by a legal representative, i.e. father and mother or guardian, before a notary public, giving consent in accordance with the laws of the individual's country. Since some German States require a special form of consent, the appropriate registrar should be contacted for detailed Information.
  • All persons not registered in Germany but marrying there require an “Ehefähigkeitszeugnis”, which is a Certificate of no impediment to marriage, stating that they are legally free to marry.
  • In case the civil registrar’s office requires an affidavit (“eidesstattliche Versicherung”) stating that the applicant is unmarried, it can be taken at the competent German Mission iabroad. Please contact your German mission in advance.
  • Financial statement

It is important to note that the registrar’s office may request that all foreign documents must be presented with an Apostille.

Another requirement is that one must also be living in the locality for at least 21 days before visiting the town hall and apply for a marriage date.

Foreign Partners Getting Married in Germany 

If one or both of the partners intending to marry is foreign, the foreign documents may be sent to a higher regional court in order to verify the legal status of that person. However foreigners can legally get married in Germany. Foreigners not from an EU country would require a German VISA valid for stays of 3 to 6 months. That means visitor VISA’s are not accepted for the intent of marriage.

If a foreigner is marrying a German citizen, it is possible to obtain a German residence permit. It is also important to check if marriage in Germany is also recognised in your home country if you intend to move back at some point and wish to get it recognised.

Religious and Traditional Marriage Ceremonies

A civil marriage is required before an optional religious marriage may be performed. Civil marriages are completed at the Standersamter. These are generally non-regligous in order to suit a marriage union from all religious backgrounds. Once completed, a religious or traditional ceremony may be performed.

Same-sex Marriage in Germany

Same-sex civil Partnerships were legally recognised in Germany during 2001. Although there are legal differences between a marriage union and partnerships, the process is the same. On October 1st, 2017 same-sex marriage became legal with all the obligations of marriage according to the German Constitution.

After the change in law, civil partnerships were obsolete and any same-sex partnerships entered into before October 2017 have the possibility to covert the partnership into an official marriage. Furthermore, same-sex marriages officially recognised in any other country is also recognised as legal marriage in Germany. 

The Process of Getting Married in Germany

How to get Married in Germany

  1. Visit town hall Visit the town hall (Rathaus) to give the intention to marry (foreigners must have been living in the locality for at least 21 days);
  2. Translated documents Have your documents translated into German by a certified interpreter;
  3. Submit documents Submit documents to the registry office;
  4. Appointment for marriage Organize the wedding ceremony to take place within the following six months;
  5. Register witnesses (if applicable) Notify the registrar of the names of any witnesses you wish to attend at least eight days before the wedding.

German Wedding Traditions

While Germany has many wedding traditions found in most other Christian weddings, such as the bride wearing white, the father leads the bride down the aisle, cake cutting at midnight and the first dance, there are a few German traditions as well.

One of these German traditions is the night before the wedding, guests attend a party called polterabend, which includes breaking porcelain plates to wish the couple good fortune.

Another tradition is the baumstamm sagen, which is a ritual of sawing tree logs. By sawing the logs together, it displays the couple can work together and symbolises a long marriage.

The groomsmen can also “kidnap” the bride after the wedding ceremony and take her to a bar. It's the groom that must find her and pay the entire bar bill she and the groomsmen have accumulated. So the quicker he finds her the better.

Other German wedding traditions may include pranks on the newly wedded couple, such as filling a room with balloons or hiding alarm clocks on the wedding night.

A Guide to Saying 'I Do' in Germany

Germany, with its rich history, stunning landscapes, and vibrant culture, stands as a captivating destination for couples seeking a unique and enchanting wedding experience. From the fairytale-like castles nestled in the Bavarian Alps to the romantic vineyards along the Rhine River, Germany offers a myriad of picturesque settings to exchange vows and create lasting memories. The country's blend of old-world charm and modern amenities provides an ideal backdrop for a truly magical wedding celebration.

Amidst the allure of Germany as a wedding destination lies the necessity for couples to grasp the legal requirements and cultural intricacies involved in getting married within its borders. Understanding these key aspects is paramount to ensuring a smooth and successful marriage ceremony that complies with local regulations while embracing the traditions that make German weddings so special.

This comprehensive guide aims to shed light on the essential elements that couples need to consider when planning to tie the knot in Germany, offering insights into everything from legal documentation to unique cultural customs. Embracing tradition while navigating legal obligations sets the tone for an unforgettable wedding experience in Germany.

By delving into this guide, couples will gain invaluable knowledge on how to embark on their journey towards matrimony in this enchanting country, laying down a foundation for a joyous celebration filled with love, culture, and cherished moments that will last a lifetime. Get ready to explore every facet of getting married in Germany - where romance meets tradition amidst breathtaking scenery.

Embracing the Beauty and Charm of Germany as a Wedding Destination

Germany, with its rich history, stunning landscapes, and vibrant culture, serves as an enchanting backdrop for couples seeking a unique and memorable wedding experience. From the fairytale-like castles nestled in the Bavarian Alps to the picturesque vineyards of the Rhine Valley, Germany offers a diverse range of settings to exchange vows. The country's blend of old-world charm and modern sophistication provides couples with endless possibilities to tailor their dream wedding.

As one delves into planning a wedding in Germany, the allure of its romantic cities like Heidelberg, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, or the bustling metropolis of Berlin becomes evident. The historic architecture, lush gardens, and idyllic waterways present ideal locations for a ceremony that exudes elegance and grace.

Whether opting for an intimate celebration in a quaint village or a grand affair in a majestic palace, Germany's versatility as a wedding destination caters to varying tastes and preferences. The allure of getting married in Germany extends beyond its physical beauty; it also lies in its warm hospitality and welcoming atmosphere.

German traditions emphasize unity and celebration within communities, making weddings not just personal milestones but communal joyous occasions. By choosing Germany as their wedding destination, couples immerse themselves in a culture that values love, commitment, and shared happiness—a perfect setting to begin their journey together.

Understanding Legal Requirements and Cultural Traditions

Navigating the legal requirements for getting married in Germany is crucial for both locals and foreign nationals looking to tie the knot within its borders. Understanding residency regulations, necessary documentation such as birth certificates or proof of marital status (if applicable), along with specific requirements based on nationality forms part of this essential preparation process.

Whether opting for a civil ceremony at the Standesamt or incorporating religious traditions at a church service, compliance with legal stipulations ensures that marriages are recognized both locally and internationally. Cultural traditions play an integral role in shaping German weddings into unique celebrations that honor age-old customs while embracing modern influences.

From pre-wedding rituals like Polterabend (a party where guests break porcelain items to bring good luck) to Baumstamm Sägen (sawing through a log together) symbolizing teamwork in marriage—these customs add depth and significance to the union being formed. Understanding these cultural nuances not only enriches the wedding experience but also fosters appreciation for German heritage among marrying couples.

Residency Requirements and Documentation for Non-German Citizens

In order to get married in Germany as a non-German citizen, you must fulfill certain residency requirements. Generally, you need to have been residing in Germany for at least 21 days before the wedding date.

It's crucial to provide proof of your identity and legal residence status. This typically includes a valid passport, birth certificate, and possibly a residence permit or visa.

Additionally, some registry offices may require a Certificate of No Impediment (Ehefähigkeitszeugnis) from your home country to prove that you are legally free to marry.

Civil vs. Religious Ceremonies: Differences and Requirements

One of the key decisions you'll need to make when planning your wedding in Germany is whether you want a civil or religious ceremony. A civil ceremony is the only legally recognized form of marriage in Germany, so even if you have a religious ceremony afterward, you must first have a civil one at the Standesamt (Registry Office). The civil ceremony is usually conducted by a registrar and takes place in the presence of witnesses. On the other hand, religious ceremonies can be held after the civil ceremony and are performed according to the traditions of your faith. Be sure to check with your chosen religious institution for specific requirements.

The Role of Standesamt (Registry Office) in the Marriage Process

The Standesamt plays a crucial role in the marriage process in Germany. It is where all legal matters concerning marriage are handled. To start the process, both partners must appear in person at the Standesamt to declare their intention to marry.

You will need to provide all required documentation and answer questions about your relationship history. The Standesbeamte (registrar) will guide you through the necessary paperwork and inform you about any additional steps or requirements specific to your situation.

Choosing the Perfect Location

Where Dreams Come True: Historic Castles and Picturesque Vineyards

When it comes to choosing the perfect location for your wedding ceremony in Germany, the possibilities are truly enchanting. Dreaming of a fairy-tale wedding? Look no further than Germany's historic castles, where centuries-old architecture and romantic settings create a magical atmosphere.

From the majestic Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria to the charming Burg Eltz nestled in the lush greenery of the Moselle Valley, each castle offers a unique backdrop for your special day. For couples seeking a more intimate and rustic setting, picturesque vineyards scattered across Germany present an idyllic choice.

Imagine exchanging vows surrounded by rolling hills covered with vineyards, with rows of grapevines creating a stunning natural decor. Whether you opt for a wine-themed celebration in Würzburg or a vineyard overlooking the Rhine River, these locations offer both beauty and charm that will leave your guests spellbound.

Hiring a Wedding Planner or Navigating the Planning Process on Your Own

From Vision to Reality: The Role of Wedding Planners in Crafting Your Special Day

Planning a wedding can be both exhilarating and overwhelming, especially when navigating unfamiliar territory like getting married in Germany. Hiring a professional wedding planner can alleviate much of the stress and ensure that every detail is meticulously taken care of. Experienced planners not only have valuable connections with venues and vendors but also possess local knowledge that can enhance your wedding experience.

However, for those who prefer to take on the planning process themselves, it is crucial to approach it with thorough research and organization. Start by creating a detailed timeline outlining tasks such as booking venues, selecting vendors, designing invitations, and arranging accommodations for guests.

Utilize online resources and forums specific to weddings in Germany for insights from other couples who have tied the knot there. Remember that flexibility is key when planning from afar; embrace cultural differences and unexpected challenges as part of your unique journey.

Understanding Typical Timelines and Costs Associated with Weddings in Germany

Budgeting Wisely: Navigating Timelines and Costs for Your German Wedding

To ensure that your dream wedding unfolds seamlessly within budget constraints, understanding typical timelines and costs associated with weddings in Germany is essential. The average planning timeline for a German wedding ranges from 9 to 12 months before the desired date.

This allows ample time to secure preferred venues, vendors, accommodations, and make necessary legal arrangements if you are not residing permanently in Germany. In terms of costs, weddings in Germany can vary significantly depending on factors such as location, guest count, venue choice, catering preferences, and level of customization desired.

On average, couples should budget between €10,000 to €20-30-50k onwards (e.g., excluding flights or accommodation). By meticulously researching prices across different regions within Germany – taking into account seasonal variations – you can create an informed budget tailored specifically to your vision while ensuring financial peace of mind throughout this unforgettable journey towards "I do."

Cultural Traditions and Customs

German Wedding Traditions - from Polterabend to Baumstamm Sägen

Germany is rich in wedding traditions that date back centuries, adding a unique and meaningful touch to any marriage celebration. One such tradition is the Polterabend, which takes place the night before the wedding.

During this lively event, friends and family gather to break old dishes and pottery to bring good luck to the couple. The loud noise is believed to scare away evil spirits and ensure a happy future for the newlyweds.

Another cherished German custom is Baumstamm Sägen, or "log-sawing." After exchanging vows, the couple must work together to saw through a log placed on a sawhorse. This symbolizes their ability to work as a team and overcome obstacles in their marriage.

Incorporating Local Customs into Your Ceremony and Reception

When planning a wedding in Germany, incorporating local customs can add an authentic touch that guests will remember for years to come. Consider starting your ceremony with the traditional German wedding march known as "Hochzeitsmarsch," which features joyful music played on trumpets or other instruments.

For the reception, serve classic German dishes like schnitzel, sauerkraut, or Black Forest cake to delight your guests' taste buds and immerse them in the country's culinary heritage. You can also set up a Kranz binden station where guests can create floral wreaths symbolizing unity and love, a popular tradition in many German weddings.

The Symbolism Behind Each Tradition

Each German wedding tradition holds deep symbolism that reflects values important for a successful marriage. The Polterabend represents community support and breaking away from past challenges before embarking on a new chapter together as husband and wife.

Meanwhile, Baumstamm Sägen signifies teamwork, communication, and cooperation essential for overcoming obstacles as partners in marriage. By understanding and embracing these customs during your wedding ceremony and reception in Germany, you not only honor the country's cultural heritage but also infuse your special day with layers of meaning that resonate with you as a couple embarking on this lifelong journey together.

Unique Wedding Venues in Germany

Unveiling the Majestic Beauty of Neuschwanstein Castle

Nestled in the picturesque Bavarian Alps, Neuschwanstein Castle is a fairytale setting for couples seeking a wedding venue straight out of a storybook. This iconic castle, built by King Ludwig II, features stunning views of lush forests and snow-capped mountains. Imagine exchanging your vows in the castle's grand courtyard or hosting a magical reception in one of its opulent ballrooms.

Every corner of Neuschwanstein Castle radiates romance and regality, making it an unforgettable location for tying the knot. The Heidelberg Castle: A Timeless Love Story Amidst History

Perched above the charming city of Heidelberg, Heidelberg Castle offers a blend of history and romance that is unparalleled. With its centuries-old architecture and sweeping views of the Neckar River below, this medieval castle provides a backdrop that exudes elegance and sophistication.

Couples can exchange their vows in the castle's beautiful garden terrace or host a lavish reception in one of its historic halls. The Heidelberg Castle promises a wedding experience filled with old-world charm and timeless beauty.

Berlin's Botanical Garden: Where Nature Meets Nuptials For couples who dream of an outdoor wedding surrounded by blooming flowers and lush greenery, Berlin's Botanical Garden is an ideal choice.

This verdant oasis in the heart of the bustling city offers various enchanting settings for ceremonies and receptions. From intimate garden pavilions to sprawling lawns dotted with colorful blooms, the Botanical Garden provides a serene and romantic atmosphere for saying "I do." Let nature be your witness as you embark on this new chapter of life amidst the tranquility of Berlin's botanical paradise.

Sylt's Lighthouse: Guiding Your Love Story with Coastal Charm

Perched on Germany's northernmost island, Sylt's Lighthouse stands tall as a beacon of love amid coastal splendor. Imagine exchanging vows against a backdrop of crashing waves and endless horizon views at this unique wedding venue. Whether you choose to have an intimate ceremony at sunset or dance under the stars at a seaside reception, Sylt's Lighthouse offers an unforgettable maritime setting for your special day.

Let the salty breeze and warm glow of the lighthouse illuminate your love story with coastal charm. A Vineyard Along Moselle River: Toasting to Love Amongst Vines

Picture saying "I do" amidst rolling vineyards along the serene Moselle River, where wine flows as freely as love on your wedding day. A vineyard wedding offers couples an intimate and rustic setting surrounded by verdant grapevines and picturesque landscapes.

Guests can savor local wines while celebrating your union under open skies or cozy tents nestled within vineyard rows. With breathtaking views at every turn and sumptuous wines to toast with, tying the knot at a Moselle River vineyard promises an exquisite blend of nature’s beauty and viticulture’s allure.

Navigating Language Barriers

Tips for Non-German Speakers on Communicating

When planning a wedding in Germany, communication plays a crucial role in ensuring that your special day goes smoothly. For non-German speakers, it is essential to be proactive in overcoming language barriers.

One effective tip is to utilize online translation tools or apps to translate important documents or messages into German. Additionally, consider hiring a local translator or interpreter for key meetings with vendors, officials, and other involved parties.

Being prepared with translated materials and having a professional interpreter present can help avoid misunderstandings and ensure all details are communicated accurately. Moreover, learning some basic German phrases related to weddings can also be beneficial.

Simple greetings, expressions of gratitude, and common wedding terms can go a long way in building rapport with German-speaking contacts. Making an effort to speak the local language shows respect for the culture and can create a positive impression on those involved in your wedding preparations.

Remember that communication is not just about words but also about gestures and body language, so being attentive to these cues can further aid in effective communication. Don't hesitate to ask questions if you are unsure about any aspect of the planning process or ceremony details.

Clear communication is key to ensuring that your vision for the wedding is understood and executed properly by all parties involved. By staying proactive and open-minded in your approach to navigating language barriers, you can contribute to a successful and memorable wedding experience in Germany.

The Importance of Hiring Bilingual Staff or Interpreters

To facilitate seamless communication throughout the wedding planning process and on the big day itself, considering hiring bilingual staff or professional interpreters can make a significant difference. Having someone who is fluent in both English and German can bridge any linguistic gaps that may arise during interactions with vendors, officials, or guests who may not speak English fluently.

Bilingual staff members can serve as valuable resources for clarifying cultural nuances, translating important documents accurately, and facilitating smooth coordination between you and various service providers. They can act as liaisons between you and local vendors such as caterers, florists, photographers, or venue managers - ensuring that your preferences are clearly communicated and understood.

Furthermore, having an interpreter present during critical moments of your wedding day - such as the ceremony itself or speeches - can enhance understanding among guests who speak different languages.

The presence of bilingual professionals adds a layer of sophistication to your event while also demonstrating thoughtfulness towards attendees from diverse linguistic backgrounds.

By investing in bilingual support throughout your wedding journey, you not only alleviate potential language barriers but

also show an appreciation for linguistic diversity, enriching the overall experience for everyone involved.

Obtaining Your Marriage Certificate from Standesamt

After your wedding ceremony in Germany, one of the crucial steps is obtaining your official marriage certificate from the Standesamt, which is the vital records office responsible for registering marriages. Typically, you and your spouse will need to appear in person at the Standesamt to apply for the marriage certificate. You will be required to provide identification documents, proof of residency, and any other documentation requested by the authorities.

The processing time can vary depending on the city or region where you got married, so it's advisable to inquire about timelines in advance. It's important to ensure that all information on your marriage certificate is accurate and matches the details provided during the application process.

Any errors or discrepancies should be promptly addressed with the Standesamt officials to avoid complications later on. Once your marriage certificate is issued, make multiple copies and store them in secure locations for future reference or legal purposes.

Legalizing Your Marriage Certificate

For many couples who get married in Germany as non-German citizens, legalizing their marriage certificate for international recognition may be necessary. This process involves obtaining an Apostille or legalization stamp from the German authorities to validate the authenticity of your marriage certificate internationally.

The specific requirements for legalization may vary based on your home country's regulations regarding foreign documents. Consult with your embassy or consulate in Germany to understand what steps are needed to legalize your marriage certificate for use abroad.

The legalization process typically involves submitting your original marriage certificate along with any additional paperwork required by diplomatic offices. Once legalized, your marriage certificate will be recognized in other countries as a valid proof of marriage.

FAQ'S Getting married in Germany

What are the legal requirements to get married in Germany?

To marry in Germany, both partners must be at least 18 years old. If you or your partner is not a German citizen, you must have been living in the locality for at least 21 days before you can declare your intention to marry at the town hall. Non-EU citizens will generally need a visa valid for three to six months. A civil ceremony at the registry office is required for the marriage to be legal.

What documents are needed to get married in Germany?

The required documents can vary, but typically include your passport, birth certificate, official statement of residency, and if applicable, documents proving the termination of any previous marriages (divorce decree or death certificate of a previous spouse). All documents must be translated into German by a certified translator​.

Can foreigners get married in Germany?

Yes, foreigners can legally marry in Germany, but those from non-EU countries will generally need a visa valid for a stay of 3 to 6 months, as visitor visas are usually not accepted for marriage purposes. If one partner is German, the foreign partner can often obtain a residence permit​.

How long does the process take?

The process can vary, but you need to register your marriage at the Standesamt usually six months in advance of your desired wedding date. The actual process of getting married can be fairly quick once all documents are submitted, and the marriage must occur within six months of receiving the marriage license.

Are same-sex marriages allowed in Germany?

Yes, same-sex marriages have been legal in Germany since October 1, 2017. Civil partnerships were available to same-sex couples before this date and can be converted into marriages. Same-sex marriages performed in other countries are also recognized in Germany​.


In navigating the intricate process of getting married in Germany and ensuring legal recognition of your union through proper documentation and procedures, couples are embarking on a journey filled with cultural richness and bureaucratic formalities alike. Despite potential challenges along the way, successfully obtaining a marriage certificate from Standesamt and completing its legalization can symbolize a union that transcends borders and celebrates love in its purest form. Embrace each step of this process as a testament to your commitment and resilience as partners venturing into a new chapter together.

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