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. There are some bureaucratic requirements that you must hurdle.

In fact, the requirements for a legal wedding in Germany are quite challenging compared to other European countries. Keep reading as we discuss these requirements below.

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.

Pros

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.

In most cases (including USA and UK) a legal wedding registered in Germany will be completely legal in your home country. That’s, of course, after following all the requirements of a valid civil wedding in Germany.

Cons

Despite the advantage of having a legally-binding wedding in Germany, we always tell our couples to avoid the bureaucratic challenges here and just perform all the legal requirements in their home country. 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. Had they chosen to be legally married here, they would have needed to go through all the document submissions and legal processes required by the German government. Plus, they would not have been able to get married in the German wedding venue that they wanted. In the succeeding sections, we will discuss the paperwork and other requirements for a legal wedding in Germany.

Germany legal wedding paperwork

As in other countries, Germany requires the submission of certain documents before you can be allowed to get legally married.

Pre-submission requirements

Something unique about Germany is that even before you submit the required documents, you first have to visit the local registry in the town hall to submit an application to marry, and give a notice of the impending marriage. A minimum residency is required for foreigners before you can give your notice of impending marriage.

Non-residents are required to submit the application and notice mentioned above to the local registry of the place where your wedding should take place.

The meeting with the local civil registry

After submitting the application and the notice, you’ll have to set an appointment at the town hall to attend a formal meeting where the local register will explain the documentation requirements.

Only after that meeting can you start submitting the official documents for your wedding.

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 not the only documents that you have to submit.

You can get in touch with our wedding planner in Germany to know more about the documentary requirements. You can also add legal assistance as part of your elopement package so our planner can help you every step of the way.

Important notes

Keep in mind that all these official documents must be translated in the German language by a sworn interpreter 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 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 you want.

Symbolic ceremony

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.

Religious ceremony

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.

Final note

As discussed earlier, there are pros and cons to having a legal wedding in Germany. We hope 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.

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