Friday, May 15, 2015

Civic Wedding

Today was my brother-in-law's civic wedding. This is one of the ways that American weddings and German weddings are generally different: German weddings usually consist of the civic marriage, which takes place in the courthouse and is officiated by a public official, and then a religious marriage, which takes place in a church and is ordained by a religious leader. In the United States, a marriage license is granted by a public official, but the actual marriage takes place separately and the rules of who can perform a marriage vary greatly by state.  I, personally, like the idea of dividing marriage into civic and religious components. I like it because it seems to support the idea of the separation of church and state.

In some (cynical) way, I can't believe that the wedding industry never clued into this difference and pushed for something similar in the United States, especially with all the discussion about civil unions and marriage in the last decades. What if (all) Americans were required to get a civil union for state purposes, and then they got a marriage from their religious/spiritual leader? WOW! This was the wedding industry's chance: because what costs more than one wedding? TWO weddings!

Okay, so onto wedding number one, the civil wedding, where we were at today. If I were to guess, I would guess that I'm going to be a bigger fan of the civil wedding (today) than the church wedding (tomorrow). This is the first time I've been to a civil wedding in Germany. Usually, they are limited to immediate family and witnesses.


For this wedding we went to the Old City Hall (Altes Rathaus). I had to smile at this sign. It reserves a parking space for wedding cars directly outside City Hall:


This City Hall is only open for weddings on regular work days. For obvious reasons, Friday is a popular day to schedule the wedding.  I was told that there is only space for about 20 people in the room where the wedding is performed. The wedding before us, however, must have had 50 people in the room. Here we are waiting in the hall, outside the rooms for the wedding:


We were suppose to be quiet for the weddings that were occurring in the rooms before us, but I have to confess we were not particularly quiet. There appeared to be two weddings, in two separate rooms at a time. Most brides get a different dress, one for each wedding. Our turn for the wedding:


The sign by the door says "Trauzimmer" Wedding Room. Again, being unfamiliar with the custom, I find this very interesting. The public official is holding the door. She's probably embarrassed for me and all my photo-taking. Here's what a Wedding Room looks like:


White shears and red drapes. The wedding only takes about 20 minutes. Fritz says it is mostly bureaucratic. I missed it because Trixie was upset about something and we had to leave the room.


Afterwards, we went outside onto the pedestrian street. Even though each wedding is a relatively small number of people, there are a lot of weddings happening. So there's confetti and people drinking champagne, and brides and grooms everywhere. There are also random people from the city and tourists walking by, etc. It's like big informal party in the street. I love this! It's a totally different type of wedding atmosphere from anything I've ever experienced in the US.


The Germans I know really like to play games at weddings. Games are apparently not reserved for the party after the church wedding. Here's a game played in the street outside City Hall. The bride and groom will use itty bitty fingernail scissors to cut the heart shape out of this sheet:




And the groom carries the bride through the cut out:



Success! And maybe a little more challenging than carrying her over the threshold!

(I then asked if I could then use those little scissors to finish cutting my kids' nails.  Just kidding. You know I couldn't resist adding that!)

1 comment:

Pregnantly Plump said...

That's very neat! I read a biography about Princess Grace of Monaco, and they have a similar thing with the civic and church weddings. I don't know if it was for the country, or just for royals.