Each culture has its unique customs that make weddings meaningful and enjoyable. German weddings are rich in numerous customs that will be a wonderful addition to the wedding of any bride or groom with a German heritage.
Many Traditions Are Passed Before The Wedding
Some German wedding traditions begin long before the bride and groom even meet. There is a very long tradition: when a girl is born, her family should plant several trees in her honor. During her engagement, trees are cut down to pay for a dowry (this old custom is probably not so common nowadays). Another tradition is that before the girl gets engaged, she begins to collect pennies. These pennies will one day be used to buy her wedding shoes (hochzeitschuhe). This tradition is designed to ensure that marriage begins with the “right foot.” On the wedding day, the bride’s mother puts dill in her daughter’s right shoe.
The Old Bavarian Custom Called Hochzeitslader
Instead of sending invitations, Hochzeitslader is sent to personally invite each guest to the wedding. He gets dressed in fancy clothes, decorated with ribbons and flowers. As an official inviting person, he visits every house of the village, sending a unique rhyming invitation to each guest on the list. Guests, accepting an invitation, take one of the ribbons from the Hochzeitslader’s robes. Then they invite him to their homes for a drink. When the guest list is long, this ritual can take a couple of days! Another tradition before the wedding is junggesellenabschied, also known as the bachelor party when the groom and his friends go to pubs one last time before he gets married.
Hochzeit: Great Church Weddings Follow Civil Ceremonies
Large church weddings (hochzeit means wedding) usually follow small civil ceremonies required by German law.
Bride and groom approach the aisle together. They are already officially married, of course, so the bride’s father does not have to “give her” to the groom. In addition, at the German ceremony, bridesmaids or friends of the groom do not participate in the wedding procession. Some couples may choose a girl who will wear a beautiful dress and a wreath of flowers. The religious ceremony often lasts an hour and a half and includes sermons, singing, and the Wedding Mass if the couple is Catholic.
Bräutkleid (Bride Clothes) And Bräutigams Kleidung (Bridegroom Clothes)
A typical German bride wears a white wedding dress. Wedding dresses are mostly strapless. Grooms wear black suits or tuxedos. The most common flowers for the bridal bouquet are roses, orchids, and lilies of the valley. May is a particularly favorable month for German weddings, a period when lilies are in bloom. In fact, elegant white flowers are called “The Bells of May” in Germany.
Some Other Traditions
At the end of the wedding, the couple leaves the church. They can find their way, blocked by ribbons strung on the door by well-wishers. The groom is expected to “buy back” his way for free, by promising a party. Something else that can happen right at the end of a church ceremony is the baumstamm sägen. This is a funny custom in which a log is put in front of a church. The bride and the groom must cut the log together. This is a symbol of their collaboration, and how well they work together to complete a task, this is supposed to be a sign of how well they will work together on other tasks during their marriage. As soon as the newlyweds go down the steps of the church, they are showered with rice. This is an ancient custom in many cultures, as rice symbolizes fertility. Legend has it that every grain of rice that sticks to the bride’s hair represents a future child to be born.
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