Die Hochzeitsglocken läuten!

This weekend, I’m going to my first German Hochzeit, or wedding.  My partner-in-crime Jenny is getting married in a wedding which is actually spread over two days.

A multi-day wedding is not uncommon in Germany, because you have to do a legal portion of the marriage in an official place and those are often not open on weekends.  In this case, there’s a small ceremony in the morning on Friday at the Altes Rathaus and a nice formal lunch at the city’s Ratskeller.  Then on Saturday, there’s a much longer, slightly more casual, definitely bigger party at Jenny and Robert’s home.

This is the first time I’ll experience a German wedding, and Jenny’s shindig doesn’t hit all the “traditional” marks because Jenny and Robert are fairly untraditional people, in the best possible way.

There are dozens of different wedding traditions in Germany, and no two weddings are exactly alike.  Here’s some of what I’ve learned about German weddings so far:

Bachelor and Hen Parties Are A Big Deal.  Whenever I’m in a city- any city, anywhere in Europe- I’ve been able to spot the pre-Wedding parties.  Bachelorette parties are often referred to here as Hen parties, which amuses me greatly.    For Bachelor parties, the groom-to-be often has to wear a ridiculous outfit.   For Hen parties, the bride-to-be often has little trinkets or baked goods or small items that she has to sell to passers-by, ostensibly for money for beer.    Group costumes and themes are common.  I’ve seen parties where every member is dressed in a nurse outfit or in a hot-cop outfit.  I’ve seen pirates and bunny ears, ballerina dresses and traditional tracht (Dirndls and lederhosen.)

Matching shirts are a popular choice.  And you can always spot them.  The look like this.  Or this.  Or this.


In some cities, the party moves around on a BierBike.  This isn’t traditional, but it’s often hilarious.

bananas are good

Engagement rings aren’t a big deal. Germans don’t do diamond engagement rings.   The concept of an engagement ring is fairly new to Germany, and some couples do it but it’s not expected here like it is in the US.   The bride and groom have matching wedding bands which are worn on their right hands.  Single guys take note:  Married women in Germany wear their wedding rings on the right hand, not the left hand!

Lots of couples do a traditional Polterabend.   A Polterabend is a party where everyone brings old dishes to break in order to wish the couple well, drive away bad spirits, and so forth.

A car procession after the ceremony is traditional.  You can always spot the days that there’s a wedding in town because there are cars with bows or bridal bouquets fixed to the hood sitting in front of the Rathaus.  After the wedding, a car procession drives through town honking their horns, and others honk back to wish the couple good luck.


After tomorrow, I can’t really call Jenny my partner-in-crime anymore.  She has a new partner-in-crime for the rest of her life.   I can’t wait to hear about Jenny’s continuing adventures with Robert!

Image by Stephan Wiesner- https://www.facebook.com/sportportraits

Have you ever been to a German wedding?


Victorious and Jubilant

Over the long Easter weekend, I visited  Belgium and Luxembourg.  (Those posts are coming soon.)  The night before I returned to Regensburg, I heard a bunch of people shouting across the street, in front of the main Luxembourg City train station.

At first, it was just a small group of people, jumping up and down and cheering.   Soon, the group got larger though.  Much larger.  There were drums, and foghorns, and people honking their horns as they drove buy.

After a while, the crowd became so large that they started to spill into the street.   Traffic was blocked.  The celebrants were using flares and vuvuzelas.   The police saw the size of the celebratory crowd and started to detour traffic around the area.

The volume of the cheering and the horns and the vuvuzelas and the drums was so loud that I could hear it from the interior hallway inside the hotel.   By this point, my curiosity was impossible to ignore, so I went downstairs to take a closer look.

I stayed across the street, ready to duck back into the hotel if necessary-  even though this was a happy, celebrating crowd, it was still a fairly giant mob.  I found out once I was downstairs what the celebration was about-  Sport Lisboa e Benfica, a Portuguese sports group, had just won a major championship game.

As it happens,  there’s a pretty substantial Portuguese community in Luxembourg City.   They stayed on the street cheering and honking and generally being a giant crowd for about three hours.  By quarter to midnight, the last vuvuzela finally wandered off and by midnight it was quiet enough to get some sleep.

Here’s a few pictures from the celebration.  I’ve shown these to a couple of people and the overall impression I’ve heard is that this actually looks like a riot.  It wasn’t, though- it was a celebration.  These people were happy.  

benfica-lux-1 benfica-lux-2 benfica-lux-3 benfica-lux-4 benfica-lux-5 benfica-lux-6 benfica-lux-7 benfica-lux-8

Have you ever seen a celebration like this firsthand?