Traditional German Wedding
16 April 2019
We have been lucky enough to have a lovely Germen student, Nele, with us in the office this past month. And she has kindly filled us in on some brilliant German wedding traditions.
Literally meaning “eve of making a racket” this is usually celebrated the night before a wedding and involves friends and family coming together to smash a bunch of porcelain for good luck.
Once all the dish-smashing has reached its conclusion the bride and groom are given the enviable honour of cleaning up the mess, as a symbol of how they will need to work together for the rest of their lives.
Sawing the tree trunk
The Germans are rather fond of playing games at weddings, a particular favourite is Baumstamm sägen – sawing a tree trunk. Whilst in other countries they may consider the act of severing wood to be the exclusive domain of strapping young men at the Easter show, in Germany brides are often expected to don a pair of gloves and start sawing away at a log of wood with their grooms shortly after their ceremony. This practice is designed to illustrate their strength as a couple and their ability to work together to overcome challenges – cute!
Hens and stags parties aren’t quite as popular in Germany as they may be in the UK, but when Germans do partake in the practice they call it Junggesellenabschied. This literally means ‘bachelors farewell’. As the respective bride or groom goes along their merry party-hopping way, they are required to sell things like shots and condoms carried on a little tray to strangers in the street.
The Veil Dance
Whilst some may consider it an act of sacrilege to destroy a piece of the bride's outfit, Schleiertanz – the veil dance – involves just that. It all starts when the brides veil is taken and she and her husband are made to dance under it. Once the music has stopped, single women then try to rip off pieces of it. Whoever collects the largest piece is said to be the next to marry. A variation of this tradition is having guests throw money on the veil. We prefer this version, and so would brides who are particularly fond of their veils.
The German practice of personalized invites puts our meagre written invitations to shame. For their wedding invitations the Germans employ the services of a personal inviter. Adorned with ribbons and flowers the official inviter goes door to door to extend a personal rhyming invitation to the guests.
Kidnapping the bride
Traditionally a bride is kidnapped by the groomsmen at some point during the reception who then drags her from bar to bar until the groom finds them. Once the groom has managed to locate his bride, he is then expected to pay the cheeky kidnappers bill, as well as a round of drinks for everyone in the bar.
Like many European cultures, Germans traditionally throw rice on the newlywed couple. However the Germans believe that the amount of rice that sticks to the bride is symbolic of how many children the couple will have.