One of the most exciting aspects of marrying into another cultural heritage is picking and choosing different wedding traditions. If your background is German, or if your fiancé is, check out some popular customs that you can re-create or modify for your own wedding.
If you’ve ever spent much time around German families, you know that they love the nightlife. Weddings are no exception. German weddings traditionally lasted three days, in part because you are required to have a civil ceremony, even if you have a religious one. While the days do not have to be consecutive, the second day is something called a Polterabend (“the evening with lots of porcelain”). Guests bring dishes and actually smash them, as a symbol of good luck.
Kidnapping of the Bride
This tradition has a long history of both fun and havoc. Basically, the night before the wedding, the guests “kidnap” the bride, and the groom has to rescue her. She usually ends up at a bar with the wedding party, and the groom usually has to pay the tab. It’s a lot of fun, if it ends fairly early and doesn’t turn into a night of debauchery. Also, you don’t want to make the groom suffer too long before he’s given his fiancé.
On the first night of the wedding, it’s common for friends to hide loud objects in the newlywed’s room, loosening the headboard, even sticking alarm clocks around the room. It’s a great practical joke, but should you wish to indulge, let your friends know when enough is enough.
On a more serious note, since the bride and groom are typically married by the time they have the religious ceremony, it is common for them to walk down the aisle together. The first dance is typically a waltz. In a nod to our modern age, it’s common for everyone to pitch in for the wedding, not just the father of the bride.
German couples often wear their bands on their right hand, and they don’t purchase rings. It’s a sweet custom if you want to do something a little different, and the rings can be identical. On a related note, German weddings often don’t include a bridesmaids and groomsmen—the guests are “witnesses.
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