How to get married in Germany

How to get married in Germany

This guide was kindly submitted by Lucile Danilov. Thank you for sharing your experience with the community!

First off, although it sounds obvious, you want to make sure to get the legal proceedings out of the way and settle on a date for the ceremony as soon as possible, preferably before any of the other preparations (reception, invitations, etc.). Despite being in 2017, Germany does love its paper trail, and you will often end up waiting weeks in front of your physical mailbox for “that one last paper”. Of course, you can have a reception without a prior visit to the local city office (or Standesamt), but if you’re bringing guests over, you may as well hit two birds with one stone, right?

You may also want to know that this process will be expensive, especially if you do not speak fluent German, as you will have to bring a sworn interpreter at your side for both the initial appointment and the ceremony itself (emphasis on the “sworn” - you cannot bring just a friend who speaks German, the credentials of the interpreter you bring will be checked).

Finally, of course, your mileage may vary – this that this is based off my own experience as a foreigner, living in Germany and marrying a German citizen who was born abroad. You may not be asked for these exact documents or go through the exact same steps, but this should give you a rough outline.

The requirements

As a EU citizen (in my case, French), you will need the following:

Of course, your fiancé(e) will need to bring the same papers, translated to German if necessary. In my case, my husband’s name was changed after emigrating from Ukraine, so he had to get a certificate of name change (Bescheinigung über Namensänderung) as well as a certificate of nationality (Staatsangehörigkeitsurkunde). Fun times.

The proceedings

Ideally, you want to start the procedure 8 to 10 months before your planned ceremony date, especially during the “wedding season” (May to October) when city registries are overwhelmed with applicants. We’ve been insanely lucky to be able to book a ceremony less than 2 month in advance, but you definitely do not want to follow our example.

Here’s a timeline idea:

After your application has been approved (approx. 2 to 4 weeks), you will receive a document that confirms you are able to get married, and can start calling your local registry offices and set a date for the ceremony. Once you find a suitable registry office, both parties applying for marriage must be present once again for a “final” appointment where you will be given all the details and regulations regarding the ceremony (max. amount of people authorized, music, duration, etc.)

Note that with your certificate in hand, you can get married anywhere in Germany, and you have multiple choices of locations in Berlin alone. However, some offices do not offer ceremonies on Saturdays.

The costs

While a wedding is generally an expensive affair, I wholly underestimated the total cost of the legal proceedings. Once again, this is just a reference and your mileage may vary.

That brings us to a whopping 680€. Note that if you speak fluent German, you can cut that amount in half and do without an interpreter. However, if the Standesamt deems that your language level is not sufficient to read and sign the documents provided (some parts are in legalese), your application may be rejected.