German Wedding Ceremony: Part 2 of German Weddings

The German wedding ceremony is part 2 of a 4 part series on German Weddings.  All German weddings must first begin with a civil ceremony at the town hall.  This is usually followed by a German wedding ceremony in the church in which the bride wears a traditional white dress and the groom a tux or nice suit, very similar to weddings in North America.  However, when the wedding rings are exchanged, most Germans wear their wedding bands on their third finger on their right hand, instead of their left hand.  We’ve decided that J.P. will wear his wedding band on his right hand, while I’ll wear mine on my left hand, a blending of Canadian and German customs.

Unlike weddings in North America, German weddings have no attendants so no need to worry about who to choose for brides maids or groomsmen.  At German weddings, the bride and groom each have a witness, but they do not stand up with them in the German wedding ceremony.  This explains why when I kept asking J.P. who was going to be his best man he got a confused look on his face.  Our Canadian-German wedding will be held in Canada, but we have decided to do this the German way and forgo attendants.  For the record, he is going to ask his mom to be his witness….awwww :).

The German couple of a wedding we recently attended arrived together in this car

Another big difference between German weddings and North American weddings is that in German weddings the couple usually arrives together and walks down the aisle together.  I explained to J.P. that in North America it was considered bad luck for the bride and groom to see each other before the wedding and that we would be sleeping in different rooms the night before.  He thought this was the silliest thing he had ever heard and can’t believe that I am serious, but I am.  This is one North American wedding custom I plan to follow.

Similar to weddings in North America, there are flower girls at German weddings and they are the show stealers no matter where they are.  At a wedding I attended in Germany, one of the adorable flower girls dropped her basket of rose petals and was so distraught she couldn’t continue her duties.  So cute, although I did feel bad for her.

The happy couple with the fallen flower girl at their feet.

Another German wedding custom, that occurs days before the German wedding, is for guests to bring old dishes to break for good luck.  Then the bride and groom clean up the dishes.  J.P. has been at weddings where guests showed up with a truckload of dishes! Although this sounds interesting, I think I would rather just be an observer and not actually have to clean up all those dishes.   J.P. and I have decided not to include this in our Canadian-German wedding due to the logistics involved.

Breaking dishes is a popular way to wish the bride and groom good luck at German weddings

One German wedding custom, unfamiliar to most North Americans, that we will including is the log sawing.  Immediately after the ceremony, the couple has to saw a log in half working together with one saw.  This symbolizes that working together can accomplish difficult tasks and is to serve as a reminder when the couple faces challenges in the future.  This is a Bavarian wedding custom and one that J.P. is not very familiar with (not coming from Bavaria), but one that we think would be fun to include.

Log sawing is popular at German weddings since it demonstrates the importance of working together

What other German wedding traditions do you know of or what has been your experience attending a German wedding?

See also  Getting Engaged to a German:  Part 1 of German Weddings
German Weddings, the Reception and Dance:  Part 3 of German Weddings
German Wedding Gifts:  Part 4 of German Weddings

Laurel Robbins is the founder of Monkeys and Mountains, an adventure travel blog and company that helps people plan their active holidays in a sustainable way. Although Canadian, she lives in Germany. You can find her in the mountains on most weekends.



  1. adventureswithben October 26, 2010 at 7:14 pm - Reply

    What an interesting article. I liked how you presented it by comparing US Customs with German Customs. But I'm curious, how many Germans actually saw the log today?

    I ask because for the longest time I was told Germans had a tradition for Christmas of hiding a pickle in their tree, but every German I spoke to said that they had never heard of that.

  2. Ayngelina October 26, 2010 at 11:37 pm - Reply

    Interesting how traditions can vary. Personally I think it could do some North Americans some good to get rid of the attendants as it's always the start of wedding drama.

  3. Zoe October 27, 2010 at 12:33 am - Reply

    German weddings sound less complicated- no attendees. Nice! The process of picking and choosing among friends can be so hard and inevitably someone feels hurt.
    I didn't know about the dish-breaking tradition. I thought that was just a Greek custom. I'm glad I know that now- thanks.

  4. Kaz October 28, 2010 at 3:48 am - Reply

    I had no idea there were quite a few differences. I guess the consumption of beer will remain a common custom 🙂

  5. Modero Group October 29, 2010 at 7:28 am - Reply

    German weddings seem less complicated than traditional weddings. Thank you for your post!

  6. Expat in Germany October 29, 2010 at 7:33 pm - Reply

    adventureswithben, thanks for stopping by and good question. I asked my German fiance and he said he'd never been to a German wedding where they sawed the log, but he quickly pointed out that he had never attended a Bavarian wedding (state in Germany) where this is apparently still a relatively popular tradition. Interesting about the pickle. I had never heard of this before and neither had my fiance. I'll have to ask his mom!

  7. Expat in Germany October 29, 2010 at 7:35 pm - Reply

    Ayngelina and Zoe, I couldn't agree more and very relieved that I don't have to pick anyone since I've got several close friends. I always thought the dishes was a Greek thing too, but my fiance said he's been to quite a few weddings where they do this. Who knew?

    Kaz, I don't think we ever have to worry about beer consumption changing 🙂

  8. Seh November 8, 2010 at 2:38 am - Reply

    As as I was reading this post, I just kept nodding my head. Thomas and I got married last year and went through the list of wedding differences. With him being from Germany and me from the U.S., we had to make a lot of compromises. For example, he wanted to include traditional German reception games, I didn't. I also had to explain that because we were marrying in the U.S., most guests would probably leave between 10 p.m. and midnight. This was strange to him since German receptions last well into the night/early morning.

  9. Kat September 7, 2015 at 7:20 pm - Reply

    The log sawing will be part of our Irish/German rustic (barn) wedding and the family farm. Perhaps this could catch on at the other farm/barn weddings in the area.

    • Laurel September 9, 2015 at 12:39 pm - Reply

      @Kat – Yeah! We had so much fun with it and our guests, both the Canadians and the Germans loved it! I wish you a wonderful wedding and a lifetime of happiness!

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