Although many modern German brides might consider some of these traditional German customs “altmodisch” (old fashioned), they are full of Old World Bavarian charm! Here is a list of German wedding traditions - including hiring an official greeter dressed up with ribbons and roses, to go door to door welcoming invited guests, and a fun and festive Wedding Eve where treasured china is trashed to scare off evil spirits.
Eheringe (Wedding rings) During the engagement period both the bride and groom wear a ring on their left hand, and after the wedding they move it to their right. Usually the rings are gold or silver with no diamonds.
Bräutkleid (Bride's attire) In Germany, as in the U.S, the bride usually wears white, but German brides wear either very short trains or none at all. If veils are worn they are of fingertip length and typically never worn over the face. Other accessories include a flowery headband with ribbons, tiaras, a little draw string purse and gloves. The custom is for the bride to dress at her home or her parent's home, and be driven to the ceremony.
Die Standesamtliche Trauung (The Wedding) Before a church wedding the bride and groom will have been married in the Standesamt (Registry Office) by a registrar, which is most often in the Rathaus (town hall). A witness is needed for the bride and also for the groom.
Die Kirche-Hochzeit (The Church Wedding) Together, the bride and groom will enter the church and walk down the aisle. Because it is not legal to have only a church ceremony, a Standesbeamte will have already legally married the couple. It is not customary to be attended by bridesmaids, groomsmen or flower girls.
Hochzeitslader This Bavarian tradition has an official inviter clad in fancy clothes decorated with ribbons and flowers going door to door extending a personal rhyming invitation to the invited guests. Guests accept by pinning one of the ribbons to the Hochzeitslader hat and by offering a drink or two at each stop. Should the invited guests be numerous and the Hochzeitslader be of the nature to accept the offered drinks, he may need a day or two to complete his duties!
Polterabend (Wedding Eve) At a party on the evening before the wedding plates and dishes are smashed to scare off evil spirits. Only china can be used. Anything else would bring bad luck. The bride and groom clean up everything to indicate that they can work together.
Hochzeit-Schuhe (Wedding shoes) The bride collects pennies for years to pay for her shoes and insure that the marriage "gets off" on the right foot.
Reis Werfen (Rice throwing) In this tradition it is said that the amount of rice that stays in the bride's hair is the number of children the couple will have.
Hochzeitssuppe (Wedding soup) The Hochzeitssuppe is made from beef, dumplings and vegetables and the guests eat if from a large bowl.
Eine Weisse Band (A white ribbon) As the guests leave the church the bride gives a white ribbon to each driver of a car in the procession to tie to the radio antenna of the car. This procession then drives through the town honking their horns. Other drivers on the route honk their horns in return to wish the newlyweds good luck in their marriage.