GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — Some wedding traditions in Germany and the U.S. are pretty similar, others are way different, funny or weird from the other perspective.
Most of the traditions are German-wide, but there are also some regional traditions. Porcelain breaking parties, bride kidnapping or ten-foot long cakes — don’t be surprised when you participate in German wedding traditions.
When the future married couple visits in person to surprisingly announce their wedding, it’s a tradition to serve them scrambled eggs as a snack. Since the suddenly invited wedding guests can’t prepare for a spontaneous meal, it became a tradition to prepare something quick and simple everyone usually has in the kitchen — scrambled eggs.
Bachelor and bachelorette party
Germany adopted the tradition from the U.S. and it is similar. Bar hopping or clubs are very popular. Some bachelors are equipped with “Bollerwagen,” a simple wagon usually weighed down by adult beverages. Bachelorettes sell shots for some euros followed by a kiss for the future bride.
In Germany, rehearsal or groom’s dinners are not celebrated. The Polterabend is the equivalent, which is usually celebrated one to three weeks prior to the wedding. Every guest brings old porcelain to break at the party. The breaking is supposed to banish evil spirits. The future bridal pair has to clean it up together. Don’t be surprised if guests show up with porcelain toilets or with a truck full of porcelain. It’s all legit as long as it’s not glass, which is considered bad luck if you break it.
The engagement ring in Germany is worn on the left hand ring finger while the wedding ring goes on the right hand.
Right after the wedding ceremony, it’s an old custom to let the newly married couple saw a log placed on a sawbuck using a jigsaw. It’s important to push and pull equally and well-paced. It reflects how well the couple can work equally together to be successful.
A Spitzwecken is a 10-foot long cake, which is ritualistically brought into the festivity room. The long cake on a wooden plate is carried by a group of about 10 male (or nowadays sometimes female) wedding guests. It starts with music and the group tries to enter the room, pretending to not get in because the cake is too long. After a couple of beer breaks served with a ladle out of a bucket, the group needs to find a solution to get the cake inside. The next step is to ax the door frame. One group member holds a piece of wood to the door frame while another axes it, simulating axing the door frame. This is of course not the solution and the group ends up sawing the cake with the plate in two pieces. Finally, the cake is inside with a lot of applause. This cake is for the guests’ party favor bags together with leftovers from the fancy cakes. Other types of party favors are not common in Germany.
Hijacking the bride
Between coffee and cake in the afternoon and dinner, it’s tradition to hijack the bride. Some close friends take the bride to a bar to drink champagne, followed by a small Bavarian band, mostly equipped with an accordion. The group enjoys the party without the groom. The groom has to find the group and bring the wedding bouquet to the bride, followed by some games in which he has to do funny things. The groom has to pay the bill, and he gets all the corks from the killed bottles on a rope as a huge necklace. The whole group then heads back to the main wedding location.
It’s a tradition that the bride buys the shoes from her savings, but using only one-cent coins. This symbolizes that she can be thrifty. Late on the celebration day, the shoes go on sale by auction. The guests put money in the shoes and at the end, the groom puts in the last bid and gives the shoes back to his wife. The auction is a less and less used tradition because the bride and the groom don’t want more financial burden for the guests.
The wedding night is not easy for the newly married couple because of various pranks. One version is to hide alarm clocks all over the sleeping room with different alarm settings. Another common prank is to fill up the whole sleeping room with balloons. Barriers to the house or sleeping room are also a way to fluster the bride and groom.