Modern urban weddings in Germany differ from American or European very little. However there are few special traditions that make German wedding special. It is worth saying that certain traditions in Germany may differ depending on the region, and it would be very difficult to list them all. Let’s talk about the most common wedding traditions, ceremonies and customs.
Before the celebration
Stag and hen parties. Like in many other countries, in Germany few days before the wedding there stag and hen parties are held, they are called “Junggesellenabschied”. As usual, this event is the last opportunity to have the time of bachelor`s life. Young people often organize noisy parties with strippers or exotic dancers. However this party also can be quiet, calm, held at home or in some small bar.
Bride kidnapping. In some regions there is such a pre-wedding tradition]. At the same time, this custom is usually observed only in villages and very small towns. Friends and relatives of the groom kidnap the bride and hide her in some pub.
Her groom together with kidnappers and other friends goes to search of his beloved, going from pub to pub. In this case, in every pub he has to drink – together with all his companions, and he pays himself. This tradition is not very much favoured in Germany, sometimes groom has to visit a lot of bars in search of bride, and after drinking in each of them this trip may end not very well.
Polterabend. The day before the celebration informal event called Polterabend is held, which involves a bride and a groom, their parents, relatives, friends, neighbours, etc. Having met on the street (usually near the bride`s or her parents` house) all who present break chinaware as much as possible. Shards are supposed to bring good luck to the future family. The bride and the groom have to pick up pieces of broken china.
The event usually accompanies with food and drinks. In Polterabend there are always present people who the couple are unable to invite to the wedding, but would be happy to see (e.g., neighbours). Remarkable fact is that in addition to tableware and other breakable objects from ceramics, clay, etc. can be broken.
For example, someone could bring ceramic tile, a sink or even a toilet with. All this is broken in fun atmosphere, and bride with a groom, armed with brooms and shovels start to make clean-up. Mirrors and glass can`t be broken in any case.
Sometimes Polterabend is combined with the reception – it is a relatively new wedding tradition in Germany.
Features of preparation for the celebration
Traditionally in Germany a wedding always paid by a bride’s father. Now this German wedding custom is held up only if father of a bride really has an ability to pay for the event without difficulty. More frequently, couple invests equally.
Dresses of German brides are the same as everywhere else. Though in this country, probably more than in any other, brides choose more affordable dresses: short wedding dresses, simple evening gowns and even suits, including pants. German women are very fond of their comfort and not depend upon others’ opinions.
There is an interesting custom connected to bride’s shoes. Many German girls begin to collect coins for bridesmaid shoes since early childhood. It’s very touching – to buy one`s wedding shoes for the money that had been saved during the period of growing up. A young woman pays for her shoes exactly by the coins.
As a rule, the Germans choose fairly simple, minimalist engagement ring without large insertions. Usually bride and groom exchange identical wedding rings. The Germans wear wedding rings on right hand.
Customs and traditions of the celebration day
Many German wedding traditions are well-known: for example after wedding ceremony in church or marriage registration the procession, decorated with flowers and white ribbon, makes a walk. The movement is periodically accompanied by a cacophony of car horns, which compose the cortege.
Like in many other countries, in Germany also there is a tradition of the first dance of newlyweds. As a rule, German brides and grooms prefer the waltz as the first one. The second one the bride dances with her father, then the groom with his mother, and then the mother of bride with the groom’s father.
When a couple of newlyweds leave a church, they are sprinkled with rice. There is a belief: the much rice get stuck in bride`s hair, the more children will be in a new family.
Wedding reception is held in fun atmosphere. Guests play exciting games and sing. Of course, the Germans have no objection to dance.
One of entertainments at German weddings – to sale dance with one of the newlyweds. Any male guest who would like to dance with a bride, and any female guest who wants to dance with a groom should pay for it. Another common game – sawing the wedding log by bride and groom. There are also other familiar games: musical chairs, guessing at the knee of his betrothed, the competition for high-speed putting a diaper on Teddy bear, etc.
Bedroom, where the wedding-night will take place, always visited by close friends of bride and groom and leave them some fun surprise – joke. For example, lay a sheet with crispy drawings and inscriptions or put some kind of adult toy in the cupboard.
They can fill the bedroom with balloons, so young expected to devour them, or throwing them out of the window. Sometimes they may hide several alarms in the room, set up for different time – as if saying, it`s not time for sleeping, dear newlyweds, it`s your first night.
In general, the Germans have a wonderful sense of humour. Their weddings are funny and not so starchy compare to English, for example.