Legal requirements to get married in Germany
There are so many reasons to fall in love with Germany and choose it as the perfect destination for your wedding in Europe.
Couples from other countries who intend to get married here frequently ask us this question: Will our destination wedding in Germany be recognized as legally-binding or not?
The quick answer to that is yes. You can have a legally-binding wedding in Germany even if you’re not residents of the country. However, having a legal wedding in Germany is not a piece of cake. Non-residents would be required to travel twice to Germany - first, for the submission of the documents and second, on the day of the wedding.
We highly advice non-residents of Germany to simply have a symbolic wedding in this beautiful destination and take care of the legal paperwork at home. Keep reading as we discuss everything about legal ceremonies in Germany.
Pros and cons of a legal wedding in Germany
Here are some things to consider while choosing between a legal or a symbolic wedding in Germany.
Getting legally married in Germany is hitting two birds with one stone. You get to tie the knot in your dream European destination and your legal wedding will be recognized in your home country and anywhere else.
However, only couples who live in Germany can have a smooth-sailing legal wedding here. Non-residents will face a lot of inconveniences and uncertainties if they will proceed with a legal ceremony.
Despite the advantage of having a legally-binding wedding in Germany, non-residents of the country will need to spend a lot of time and money just to get it done. Another setback is that your wedding can only be recognized as legally-binding if it occurs at the local registry office (Standesamt). You cannot have a legal wedding any place else.
That's why we always tell our couples who don't live in Germany that it's more advisable to perform all the legal requirements in their home country, and just have a stress-free symbolic wedding in Germany.
As advised, most of our couples did all the legal paperwork such as submitting the required documents and legally registering their marriage back home. They took care of the paperworks in the place where they originally reside and went to Germany to have a symbolic wedding in the venue that they love.
In the succeeding sections, we will discuss the paperwork and other requirements for a legal wedding in Germany. Again, this is only advisable to couples living in the country.
Paperwork for legal weddings in Germany
As in other countries, Germany requires the submission of certain documents before you can be allowed to get legally married.
Something unique about Germany is that there are two pre-wedding requirements - the submission of documents, and the approval of the wedding registration.
After submission, the couple should wait for the approval or acceptance of all the documents, which could take weeks or months. It is not predictable to know when to get the approval of the ceremony.
For those who do not live in Germany, this means that you have to travel twice to the country to satisfy the legal requirements. The first trip would be to submit the documents, and the second, on your actual wedding day.
The wedding documents required
The official documents include your birth certificates showing your identity and proving that you are at least 18 years old. In Germany, only 18-year-olds and above are allowed to have a legal wedding. You also need to present your passports, and a certificate that you are legally allowed to get married.
These are only some of the required documents, but a full list can be provided by the local registry.
Keep in mind that all these official documents must be translated in the German language by an official translator before submission. Also take note that you must submit the documents and perform your wedding ceremony within six months from the approval of your application to marry.
Other requirements for a legal wedding in Germany
After all the necessary paperwork, we will now talk about the legal requirements for a valid civil wedding ceremony in Germany.
Wedding in the German language
All weddings in Germany must be performed in the German language, so you will need an interpreter during the ceremony.
Official registrar as the wedding officiant
You cannot choose just any officiant for your legal wedding In Germany. The marriage ceremony must be contracted before the official registrar.
Ceremony in the German registry office
Your wedding ceremony must be held in the registry office to be legally recognized in Germany. Both spouses must appear before the local registry office (Standesamt), with witnesses if you wish.
Don’t worry about having the same wedding date with other couples because the registry offices in Germany usually have several different wedding rooms to choose from.
If you don’t want to get married inside the registry office, and you’re dreaming of a church wedding or a nature elopement in Germany, those kinds of ceremonies will not be registered as legal weddings.
Below are the other types of wedding ceremonies in Germany.
Other ceremony options for your wedding in Germany
Like what we’ve been saying earlier, you don’t have to go through all the bureaucratic requirements, inconveniences, and travel expenses to get married in Germany.
After all, if you’re flying to Germany to have a whimsical ceremony in one of its beautiful wedding venues - the lakes, historic castles, and hilltop cottages - then you can have a symbolic ceremony in any venue that you desire.
A symbolic wedding in Germany will give you the freedom to choose whatever venue you like for your European wedding. Plus, and most importantly, you can ditch all the paperwork and processes before your big day. Most of our couples went for a symbolic ceremony for their destination wedding in Germany and did not regret it.
If you do this, you can fly to Germany even as late as a day before your wedding and head straight to your chosen venue without worrying about any legal requirements. Then, you can have a simple legal ceremony back home to legalize your union. What’s more important is that you can devote every single day of your stay in Germany to your ceremony and honeymoon.
Another option is a Catholic or protestant wedding ceremony in Germany. They both do not have a legal effect just like a symbolic wedding but you can hold it in a historic church or another venue officiated by a priest or a pastor. For a Catholic wedding, it's important to make sure that the church has an English-speaking minister to perform your wedding ceremony. Alternatively, you can have a ceremony in a venue with a privately owned chapel in Germany for a more customized religious ceremony.
As you can see, there are pros and cons to having a legal wedding in Germany. We hope that all these requirements will help you decide which type of ceremony is more fitting for you.
If you’ve already decided to get married in Germany, and you want to explore more about the planning process you can get in touch with us here, and schedule a call with our wedding planner in Germany.