Yeah Weddings

12 Traditions You May See at a German Wedding

As one of the most influential cultures in American society, it’s no surprise that many brides and grooms are looking to Germany and its traditions as a way to celebrate their festivities. German wedding traditions can add a lovely touch of culture to your wedding!

german wedding decorations

If you’re thinking about including traditional practices during your German wedding ceremony and reception but aren’t completely sure about the details, don’t sweat it!

Familiarize yourself with German marriage traditions today!

What Are German Marriage Traditions?

With over 14% of Americans being able to trace their ancestry back to Germany, countless wedding celebrations in the United States have found their inspiration from this European country. 

Learn everything you need to know about German wedding traditions from reading our guide! 

Hire an Official Inviter

Originating from the southern regions of this European country, a person known as a “Hochzeitslader” is hired to deliver the news of any upcoming German weddings.

bavarian man

This Bavarian custom, which predated the modern postal system, states that the “Hochzeitslader” invites your guest list by visiting their home and speaking in a rhyme. 

To accept the invitation to your traditional German wedding, a person needs to take a ribbon from the outfit of the Hochzeitslader and pin it to his hat. The guest will then invite him into his or her home for a celebratory drink. 

Be sure to include this German tradition during the wedding planning process if any of your guests live nearby! 

Hide a Penny 

pennies

One of the simplest German wedding traditions involves hiding a penny in bridal shoes, known as the “Brautschuh,” on the day of her marriage ceremony. 

This practice is thought to bring prosperity to her future union. Some brides choose to tape the penny to the outside of their wedding shoes to avoid the uncomfortable feeling of having a coin against their heels.

Smash Porcelain

When it comes to German marriage traditions, the “Polterabend” proves to be the most interesting and memorable. 

As a combination of the words for “making loud noises” and “evening,” the “Polterabend” consists of the guests arriving to the front yard of the bride’s house before the day of her traditional German wedding and smashing porcelain plates, bowls, mugs, and more.

smashed porcelain

The wedding party isn’t restricted to throwing porcelain either. Many people have opted for ceramics or stoneware instead. 

The exact origin of this wedding custom is unknown. Some historians believe that Germanic tribes practiced their own version of the “Polterabend” under the assumption that porcelain shards would drive away evil spirits. 

In the modern age, Germans weddings include this common tradition as a way to bring luck to the future union. The bride and groom cleans up the broken pieces together to show that they work well together as a happy couple. 

Drink From The Bridal Chalice

According to a German legend that dates back to the 15th century, a goldsmith crafted a bridal chalice as a way to prove his love to a nobleman’s daughter.

This pewter drinkware allows two people to sip together without spilling a drop, becoming a popular unity tradition among German brides and grooms.

Designed as a woman holding up a swiveling cup, these bridal chalices can be easily customized to include your wedding date or the names of you and your loved one!

Cut a Log

If you and your significant other prefer another kind of unity ceremony besides drinking from the bridal chalice, sawing a log together is the way to go! 

german wedding log sawing

As one of the most common German marriage traditions, this gesture serves as the first obstacle that a bridal couple must face during their married lives together.

Most husbands and wives cut the log with a large saw that has two handles. They’ll typically choose an old dry piece of wood so it’s easier to cut and won’t take up too much time during their traditional German wedding reception. 

Waltz With Your Significant Other

wedding waltz

After finalizing the song that’ll play during the first dance with your spouse, think about planning a waltz to follow German wedding traditions. 

This ballroom and folk dance, which traces back to the 13th century, is usually performed in a closed position with quick rotations. It’s hard to imagine a better style for a wedding that takes inspiration from retro aesthetics!

Participate in a Discofox Dance

As one of the newest kinds of German marriage traditions, the discofox dance has gained the most popularity among younger brides and grooms. 

wedding reception dance

Similar to the hustle from the United States, the discofox involves a partner and tends to be more improvisational than other kinds of wedding dances. 

This German wedding custom is typically accompanied by disco music or other kinds of high-energy songs!

Decorate With Cornflowers

When making the final decision for the floral arrangements of your German wedding celebration, consider including the country’s national flower.

Also known as the bachelor’s button, cornflowers gained popularity before German unification and became favorites of Prussian royalty.

These beautiful flowers are now known for their blue-violet colors and have become stunning decorations during countless German weddings! 

Just be aware that these floral arrangements carry a fragrance and may bother anybody on your guest list who has an allergy. 

Incorporate German Words

Add a touch of tradition to your German wedding ceremony and reception by including some words from the European language. 

wedding signpost with german words

Flex your creativity by replacing table numbers with eins, zwei, drei, and more! 

If you and your spouse have decided to write your own vows to each other, don’t think twice about embracing words like “liebling” instead of sweetheart during your traditional German wedding. 

Swap out happy with “froh” to describe how you feel around your significant other. Don’t be afraid to use “feier” in place of celebration and “kuss” with kiss. 

Serve German Food

When creating the menu of your wedding reception, or “Hochzeitsempfang” in the German language, don’t forget to include local dishes!

According to German wedding traditions, these meals tend to be sit-down dinners instead of buffets. Keep in mind before finalizing any of your food choices.

first course of german wedding meal

The first course for a traditional German wedding is known as “Hochzeitssuppe.” This soup is usually cooked with chicken broth and meat, egg custard garnish, asparagus tips, small meatballs, and thin glass noodles.

Feel free to use a variation of this wedding soup that uses beef broth instead.

second course of german wedding meal

During German weddings, Tafelspitz is usually served as the second course. This Austrian dish, translated as “top of the table,” consists of boiled beef that can be prepared cold as thin slices with horseradish and onions.

Tafelspitz is sometimes made as a hot dish with fried potatoes and apples. 

In northern parts of Germany, a wedding menu will include “Birnen, Bohenen, und Speck.” This meal is named after its three main ingredients (pears, beans, and bacon) and cooked as a stew. 

german wedding cake

If you want to follow German marriage traditions when picking out your final course, go with a “Baumkuchen”. This layered wedding cake is prepared with honey and almonds. 

Follow Superstitions

If you’ve begun the planning process with German wedding traditions in mind, just be aware of any superstitions that may impact your special day. 

ring exchange during a traditional german wedding

Toasting with a glass of water (instead of alcohol) is believed to mean wishing death upon others during a traditional German wedding. This superstition dates back to Ancient Greece. 

During American weddings, guests commonly give a thumbs-up to express their approval.

This gesture tends to be associated with bad luck because it was used as a symbol by the gladiators of Ancient Rome to indicate who was being executed. To follow German marriage traditions, wedding guests will press their thumbs instead. 

Play German Music 

wedding music set-up

When creating the playlist for your traditional German wedding day, don’t be afraid to include choices that are sung in this European language!

One of the most popular songs requested at German wedding festivities is “Das Beste.” Silbermond’s melody, translated into English as “The Best,” is perfect for couples who are looking for a piano ballad!

“Liebe Ist Alles,” or “Love is Everything,” fits effortlessly on any playlist consisting of German love songs. Rosenstolz’s music sounds sweet without being overly sappy!

Playing “Ich Lass Fuer Dich Das Licht An” during your traditional German wedding will surely leave everybody in awe! You won’t regret choosing Revolverheld’s pop track, which means “I Leave The Light On For You” in English. 

Final Thoughts

german wedding couple

As a country with one of the largest populations in Europe, Germany has plenty to offer as marriage traditions.  

If you’re incorporating German marriage traditions into your romantic celebration, we would love to know which ones in the comments section! Take a moment to tell us about any German wedding traditions that we might have excluded from our guide!

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Lauren Peterson

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