7 German Wedding Traditions that May Surprise You

German Wedding Traditions

German wedding traditions have a long and proud history. Apart from the familiar church ceremony that is common to most countries in the west, Germans have their very own customs when it comes to making a wedding fun and memorable.


If you’ve been invited to a German wedding or are planning to host one, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the most prevalent wedding traditions in that country.

Junggesellenabschied — the Bachelor Party

Don't be confused by this rather long and hard to pronounce German phrase. It can be thought of as the German version of a regular bachelor party. Before you get tongue-tied it's actually more of a simple sendoff than those big parties that take place in English speaking countries.


Germans like to think it is a special way to say goodbye to the bride or groom. The key difference is that the bride and groom carry things like condoms and offer them to passers-by before reaching the party.

Trauzen and Trauzeugin — Witnesses at a German Wedding

This is an authentic German approach to have a best man or bridesmaid in attendance on the wedding day. In most countries around the world, it is usual to find the bride having several maids of honor.


However, in Germany, they prefer just one to accompany the bride. The same goes for the groom, it's not necessary for him to have more than one best man. Another important consideration is that it's not critical for the brides and grooms to have maids or men matching according to gender.


So for instance, the bride could actually end up having a best man and the groom a maid of honor. What's more important is that each of these individuals is selected because they have a close bond and relationship with the person getting married.

Polterabend — a Pre-wedding Party

German Wedding Traditions

This German wedding tradition is quite unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. The evening before the wedding day is celebrated with much pomp and show. This informal party is meant to be loud and uninvited guests are more than welcome to attend.

During the party both the bride and groom participate in the breaking of dishes and plates. Germans believe this brings good luck to the couple and their marriage. When all is said and done the couple is left alone to clean up the mess.

Baumstamm Sagen

Literally the cutting of a tree trunk, the couple are tasked with an assignment which is designed to strengthen their bond. This typically happens after the wedding ceremony and a wooden log is placed between the couple. Using a band saw they have to work together back and forth to saw the log in half. The guests cheer them on as they establish their strength as a married couple.

Brautentfuhrung — Kidnap the Bride

A fun and playful wedding tradition to be found in Germany is where the bride is actually abducted by friends after the wedding. They parade from one bar to the next and now the groom has to go out and track them down. To make it even more challenging they will usually leave the bar tabs for the groom to sort out along the way.

Schleiertanz — the Veil Dance

This is known as the ‘veil dance' and can be compared to how the bride tosses her bouquet after the wedding. However, this German wedding tradition is much more involving and allows full participation of the guests.

Typically the bride’s veil is held up by friends and family like a canopy over the couple. The couple then engages in a romantic dance together. It’s almost as though they’re protected under the shade of the veil.

Next comes the fun part where the next eligible lady to marry is decided. After the dance is over single women will attempt to tear off pieces of the veil. This custom replaces the act of throwing the bouquet. The lady, who makes away with the largest piece of the bride’s veil, is believed to be the lucky one.

Sometimes the dance is allowed to continue for some time before single ladies get in there and start ripping the veil. Whoever wishes to dance with either the bride or groom then throws wads of cash on top of the veil. The one who throws the most money gets a turn to dance with the partner of their choice.

How to Cut the Wedding Cake

The first unwritten rule the Germans adhere to is that the wedding cake should be cut at midnight and not sooner. This tells you the party is likely to carry on until very late.


While they're cutting the cake you may notice that the bride and groom are somehow struggling with each other to control the knife. Here is a kind of competition taking place to see whose hand is over the other. According to another German wedding tradition, it is believed that when the cake is finally cut, the partner, whose hand end ups on top, is actually the one ‘wearing the pants' in the marriage.