Ever wonder what a German wedding is like and how it compares to a traditional American wedding?
The past couple months, I have had the lovely opportunity to attend a couple weddings in Germany, and let me just say, they are an absolute blast! From the activities, to the fresh cakes and different traditions, I loved getting to experience someone’s happiest day ever in a different culture.
Due to these experiences, I thought it would be interesting to share how German weddings differ from American weddings, as well as other aspects I observed. You may be surprised by a few!
So, los gehts, let’s get into it, what’s a German wedding really like?
One. In a traditional American wedding, the father walks the bride down the aisle, but in Germany…
The bride and groom walk down the aisle together!
This definitely was a surprise to me, as one of the most characteristic aspects of an American wedding is having the father walk the bride down the aisle, the father providing a hug and kiss to his daughter, and “giving her away” to the groom waiting at the front. Normally people also have all eyes on the groom at this moment as he can tend to get emotional.
Two. In a traditional American wedding, the wedding preceeds with the bridesmaids and groomsmen walking down the aisle in pairs, and then standing in the front of the church. However in Germany…
There are no bridesmaids or groomsmen!
In Germany, it’s more common that just a maid of honor and best man are chosen but no others. They help plan the Bachelor / Bachelorette parties as well as help with other aspects of preparing for the wedding day.
Three. In a traditional American wedding, the bride and groom stand facing the church, or each other – the entire time, but in Germany…
The bride and groom sit with their backs facing the audience!
I found myself wanting to stare at the bride and groom and at least see their facial expressions, but couldn’t except for the one time they are standing and facing each other for the vows and kiss.
Four. After the church ceremony at a traditional American wedding, guests make their way to the main reception, however in Germany…
They have a pre-reception before the actual one!
So basically right after the church ceremony, there is a first reception with loads of drinks (typically champagne) and appetizers (Left: at one of the wedding’s I went to, there was the most enormous amount of cakes I have ever seen – all homemade and just phenomenal.
This is typically the case because some church ceremony guests are not invited to the main reception party, especially if they are not as close to the bride and groom, and so this makes up for it.
Five. At the main reception party, in Germany…
The couple introduces the entire guest list.
I’m not kidding! The newly weds introduce each and every person in attendance by name, and how they know them. I was shocked by this, since it takes awhile to go through, but at the same time thought it was so touching and thoughtful. You feel recognized and honored to be there when your name is called.
Would you do this at your wedding?
Six. Once a piece of cake is cut for the bride and groom to feed eachother, the cake is taken away to be cut and served to all the guests. Except in Germany…
They cut the cake themselves for all their guests!
Yup, the bride and groom have work to do on their wedding. However, the cake tends to go really fast, so it doesn’t take long before its cut. Not everyone gets a piece of the bridal cake either, as there are usually more than one cake to be served for the entire group.
Seven. At a German wedding…
There are lots of interactive games!
They really like to get everyone involved and not just sit around. I’ve seen many fun, creative games and they all were entertaining! For example, there’s the classic stand up if you… i.e. traveled more than 2 hours to get here kind of game. Then I’ve seen a version of musical chairs / relay race combined. Instead of walking around the circle of chairs until the music stops, you sit first, then a task is called like, “Go grab a pen from the audience” and the contestants had to run and get the item and sit back down. So whoever came back last lost their chair. They did a few really funny items like a tie and a bra.
Eight. At a traditional American wedding, wedding gifts are primarily all off the wedding registry or are money. In Germany…
Many guests give homemade gifts, that are very thoughtful and around a central theme.
I wish I took more photos, since the amount of creativity I noticed in the Germans was incredible. People put a lot of time and effort into making beautiful gifts. At one wedding I attended, the theme was centered around money, but instead of just giving money in a boring envelope, people actually did things with it. Again, I wish I took more photos.
Nine. At a German wedding reception…
There are always sweets trolley’s for the kids!
This was a small observation, but the trend has stayed consistent. What a great way to keep the kids happy and occupied! I also think the kids need more energy since the wedding’s go really late… which leads to my next point…
Ten. In a traditional American wedding reception, the party usually ends before or slightly after midnight. Better believe Germany…
The reception typically goes until 2, 3 or 4 in the morning!
Well, there you have it, Germans are better party-ers. The wedding starts at around 1pm and it goes into the wee hours of the night. You have to prepare yourself for an entire afternoon, evening and late night if you get to attend one. That being said, it’s an absolute blast! There’s music, dancing, an open bar, photo booths, and even leftover food at the tables to keep people going all night long.
I really hope you’ve enjoyed the 10 observations I made at the German weddings I’ve been to so far. There are also many similarities between German and American wedding’s not mentioned, like the first dance together, giving speeches, and having an open bar. Overall, I’ve had an absolute blast at the German wedding’s I’ve attended, and think some American wedding’s should include some of their traditions. However, there’s also certain American traditions I really love like having bridesmaids and the father of the bride walking the bride down the aisle. You can always learn from other cultures!