Answers to the most important questions about planning, wedding ceremonies and celebrations
The civil wedding makes the union between two lovers official. With the signature, the fiancé becomes married. Many couples perceive their church or private wedding as the highlight of the celebrations, but they promise each other their eternal love at the registry office. So that nothing can go wrong on this big day, we have put together the most important answers to all organizational questions for you. formal dresses for women
Where, how, what? - Preparations for the civil wedding
After the marriage proposal comes the big organizational challenge - after all, most couples get married for the first time and a wedding requires a lot of planning. But don't worry, it doesn't have to turn into stress. All you should know is what preparations to do before your big day. We are now giving you an overview of the most frequently asked questions engaged couples are concerned with:
At which registry office can I get married?
First of all, the good news for everyone who has already chosen a particularly beautiful registry office: In theory, you can get married at any registry office within Germany. To do this, however, you have to register personally at the registry office in your place of residence and announce your intention. If you live in different locations, just register.
When you have done this, you can inquire at your desired registry office. For many, the choice falls on the local registry office anyway, but sometimes couples also want a romantic branch office for their wedding ceremony or, for example, want to get married in their future common place of residence. All of this is possible if you register in time.
Is the registry office an authority?
Yes, the registry office is an authority. The registration process is correspondingly correct. Incidentally, the duties of registrars are not limited to getting married, even if most Germans get to know the authority in this context. The registry office is also responsible, for example, for the recognition of paternity, name changes, death declarations or the certification of births. Your marriage at the registry office is an official, legally valid ceremony.
What documents do we need for the civil wedding?
In order to tie your knot in front of the registrar, you need some documents. Here is an overview of which documents you should not forget when getting married:
- ID card or passport as proof of identity
- Residence certificate from your residents' registration office
- Certified birth certificate
Attention: This must not be older than six months. You can apply for it at the registry office in your place of birth. Do not be confused by older couples: The copy from the family book is no longer necessary since 2009.
- ID card or passport of the groomsmen
There are also documents for so-called special cases. This is about your current status before the law. For example, if you are widowed, divorced or do not have a German passport, you will need additional documents. The best thing to do is to ask at the registry office.
Which name should we choose?
The right to a name in a marriage is regulated by the BGB, family law §1355. At the registry office you give a name declaration when you get married. Most couples choose a common married name. From a statistical point of view, between 75% and 90% of all couples take the man's name, which varies greatly from region to region. Less than 5% choose the woman's name, the rest choose a double name, or everyone keeps their own family name.
So there are the following options:
- Joint married name: name of the wife or husband, children have the same name
- Shared married name / double name: the person whose name is not the married name can put his / her name in front of or behind it with a hyphen, children only have the shared married name
- if no married name is determined, everyone carries their own name, when a child is born, both parents jointly decide which name the child should have, this decision also applies to other children
A special feature of German naming law exists if one of the partners already has a double name from a previous marriage. In this case, any of these names can also be chosen as a married name.
This means that if Ms. Müller was married to Mr. Meier in her first marriage and bears the name Müller-Meier, then Meier can be set as the joint married name.
How many groomsmen do i need?
Today no witnesses are required for a wedding at the registry office. Since 1998 it has been entirely up to the wedding couple whether they want to order one or two witnesses at all. Most choose to pick one for the bride and one for the groom, but that's not a must either.
However, the identity papers for the witnesses are essential. In addition, they must be of legal age and legal capacity at the time of marriage. It is also important that the groomsmen can follow the ceremony. Therefore, a sworn interpreter is necessary for the translation if your witnesses do not have sufficient command of the German language.
Can / do we have to use the same witnesses for the registry office and the church?
No, as I said, in theory you don't need any witnesses at the registry office. On the other hand, at least one best man per person is required for a church wedding - but there can also be several. So, for example, you can choose two witnesses for the registry office and three more for the church.
The only thing you should keep in mind is that groomsmen also have organizational tasks that they may do better if they are responsible for both marriage vows. Here you can find more information about the duties of withesses . In addition, find out whether your church insists that the witnesses belong to the respective denomination. So it may be that your Muslim friend cannot be your maid of honor at a Catholic wedding. However, this is not a law, but a rule that each pastor interprets individually. It's always worth asking.
Registry office costs - How much are the costs for a civil wedding?
As with any wedding, the costs at the registry office can vary widely. They also depend on what you want to invest. But there are some basic items that are indispensable: the costs for the registration and wedding ceremony at the registry office itself. The fees incurred vary depending on the federal state - but you should expect at least 100 - 200 euros for certificates and appointments alone. By the way, the costs usually increase if you want to get married on a Friday or Saturday. Double names, multiple marriage certificates or renting a special branch office can also significantly increase the fees for the registry office.
You both know best which points have priority or whether you generally say: No savings will be made on this day! Assuming you get married on a different day than church or only civil, then total costs from 1500 euros and up, including all decorations, the hospitality of your guests and the equipment for the bride and groom, are realistic for the civil wedding.
When and with whom? - Appointments and invitations for the wedding at the registry office
You have all the documents together, your cost calculation is in place, but now the first questions about appointments and invitations arise. We provide answers as to who should not be absent at a civil wedding and how the appointment for a wedding at the registry office works:
When do I have to make an appointment for the wedding at the registry office?
The answer is good for all bridal couples to know, because it is as early as possible. Especially if you have a desired date, you should secure it immediately. There are always coveted dates such as December 12th or the summer weekends in general, which are quickly taken.
But be careful: You can register six months before the wedding at the earliest. So set your timer or mark the day in red in the calendar! Because it is better to ask for the desired date immediately than to receive a rejection a few weeks later.
When do I have to order the lineup?
The "contingent" originally came from canon law and was supposed to announce an upcoming wedding. This custom is out of date since a church wedding is no longer compulsory. Since 1998, the public announcement of a marriage is no longer legally necessary. In the past, the regional announcement of a wedding also served to find out possible obstacles. In times of digitization and mobility, it would no longer make sense to order the bid.
Nevertheless, most registrars ask whether a publication is desired, and you can also consider whether you would like a wedding announcement in the newspaper or something similar. The old custom, however, lives on in a whole new way on social media, where many couples announce their engagement.
Is it possible to get married in a civil ceremony on Saturdays?
Yes, that is possible. Many couples would like an appointment on the weekend to invite family and friends who have to travel further. Now the registry offices know that, of course, and they don't actually have opening hours on Saturdays. But you have found a solution: fees. So if you prefer to get married on Saturday (in some places also on Friday), then you should expect additional costs of up to 200 euros.
How quickly do you get an appointment at the registry office?
If you do not have a desired date, the registration at the registry office can go very quickly. That depends on many factors such as the time of year, the workload of the respective office or the completeness of your documents. If you have all the papers, you can theoretically get the next free appointment immediately. That can be in a few weeks or the next day. For the very spontaneous, who like surprises, fate decides the wedding date, so to speak.
Can I get married civilly and in church at the same time?
You can only get married in a civil and church office in individual cases. Because a prerequisite for the civil marriage are official rooms. Such a compact wedding is only conceivable if the registrar and the pastor agree and there is a special branch of the registry office, for example a castle or a palace, that you can rent.
What time can there be between a civil and church wedding?
In order to clarify the question of the time frame, it is important to look again at the legal significance of the civil marriage. You are legally married only through the wedding at the registry office. However, before or after you can get married in church or have a free wedding ceremony. The order is not fixed. In theory, there can be years between the two marriages. Your alliance for life is still only legally valid if you have given the signatures at the registry office.
Does the civil or church wedding date count more?
For the offices and authorities, the date of the civil registry office is considered to be the most important one, because the marriage was officially recorded on that day. But that shouldn't prevent you from deciding which date is more important to you personally. After all, you should have this date engraved on your rings, because it will always remind you of this wonderful day.
How many guests can I invite to the civil wedding?
In theory, there is no limit to the number of guests. You can invite as many people as you want to attend the ceremony. But bear in mind that the rooms usually require a certain limitation. If there is a large number of guests, it can happen that not all of them can be seated in the wedding room. It is worth asking about the capacities here beforehand. Often branch offices have more space and you can invite everyone who is important to you.
Who do I invite to a civil wedding?
As I said: there can be many, but often it's just the closest relatives, friends and of course the best man. This is not always due to space reasons: the costs can also play a role if a couple is still planning to organize a celebration at the church wedding in addition to the civil wedding. Some married couples decide to only invite most of the guests to the celebration and to share the special moment of the wedding with their closest relatives and friends. Ultimately, it is your very personal decision, for which you do not have to justify yourself to anyone.
What text do I write on the invitations to the civil wedding?
You can design your invitations according to your taste. You should already discreetly indicate what kind of celebration you want. For example, if you go out to eat in a very chic restaurant after the wedding, the invitation cards should also be elegant and point out. The same applies to the text - anything from funny to romantic to official is conceivable.
Your invitation should contain the following information in any case:
- the dates of your wedding ceremony (place and time)
- Information about the process (e.g. "We would like to see you in the wedding hall at 9 o'clock.")
- Possible gift wishes (e.g. "We are very happy about a contribution to our honeymoon in Hawaii.")
- the re-registration date (e.g. "Please let us know by the end of April whether you can come.")
The big how? - Everything about the civil ceremony
The big day has finally come and you can't wait to say yes to your loved one. So that the moment is really unforgettable, you should know the following answers about the course of the ceremony at the registry office:
How does the marriage ceremony at the registry office work?
In contrast to a romantic church or free wedding, the actual wedding is often relatively sober. First, the registrar will greet you and your guests. This is followed by his speech, which can sometimes be cheerful, sober or romantic, depending on the personality. The civil marriage becomes particularly beautiful through personal elements, e.g. speaking directly to the bride or groom, music or reactions from the guests.
The ceremony usually lasts no more than twenty minutes. After the address, personal data is read out, including that of the witnesses. Then your (new) family name will be announced and certified. Only then does the registrar speak the famous marriage formula, which he usually adds with personal words. Then the wedding couple exchanges the rings and is allowed to kiss. At the end there is the most important formality of the wedding: the signatures of the married couple and the witnesses. You will then be given your family register and will be adopted. Now you can receive the congratulations and congratulations from your guests.
Which side does the bride sit on during the civil ceremony?
In the registry office the groom sits to the left of the bride. In church weddings, this is usually the other way around. Often registry offices help the excited bride and groom by placing a vase for the bridal bouquet on the bride's side. Should you nevertheless "get lost", every registrar will kindly point this out to you. No wedding has failed in the wrong place.
What music can I have played at the registry office?
Music gives the wedding ceremony at the registry office an individual and personal touch. If you want to play a certain song during the ceremony, you have to get permission from the registrar beforehand. Then you simply bring the corresponding CD or MP3 with you on the wedding day.
Life music can be even more romantic. Maybe you know a singer in your circle of acquaintances or someone who can play the violin, guitar or keyboard beautifully. So you have a romantic background for the wedding that will certainly move many guests to tears. It is also worth asking at the registry office, as there is often already contact with musicians or a selection of love songs is available.
Can I get a civil wedding without a bouquet?
Bridal bouquets are not a must, but they are definitely justified. Not only because they look so beautiful in photos, but also to give the bride something to hold on to. A bouquet in hand can take some of your nervousness away. Traditionally, the bridal bouquet for the registry office is smaller than for the church, but that too is up to your taste.
What to do with the bridal bouquet in the registry office?
During the wedding ceremony you can either give it to your maid of honor or simply place it on the table in front of you. You need your hands free when signing, exchanging rings and congratulating yourself afterwards. Some guests will then hand over their first gifts or envelopes and you should be able to receive them. When you have left the registry office, you can throw the bridal bouquet immediately. Perhaps the unmarried ladies among your guests are already waiting for it. However, some brides prefer to keep it a little longer before making someone else happy with it.
Does the ring exchange take place in the registry office or in the church?
Ring swapping is compulsory in church weddings - but how is it at the registry office? In theory, you don't have to exchange rings for a civil ceremony. However, this moment is the most romantic part of the more sober process of a civil marriage. So it would be a shame to do without him. You can of course swap your rings twice.
What name do I use to sign the marriage certificate?
Uncertainty arises when the name changes with the marriage. Many newlyweds wonder if they then have to sign with their old name. No, the marriage certificate is signed with the new, full name followed by your maiden name (born xy). If you decide on a double name, both names must be recognizable in the signature. Many brides practice the new signature before the wedding so as not to go wrong. The registrar will certainly point out to you at the crucial moment that you are not allowed to sign with the old name.
Does the registry office report the marriage to the tax office?
Yes, after the marriage, you as a couple automatically slip into tax class 4. That is irrespective of whether one of the spouses has no salary. This division is worthwhile if you earn almost the same amount. The only possible alternative (tax class 3/5) must be applied for in writing from the tax office. This is suitable for couples who have different merits.
And then? - Celebrate after the wedding at the registry office
You are now legally married and you would like to celebrate this with your loved ones. But how? In the following you will find out whether a champagne reception is mandatory and where you can go with your guests after the registry office:
Should we offer sparkling wine after the registry office?
The champagne reception is not a must, but a nice end to the official ceremony. Just ask at the registry office whether and where serving is allowed. Those who prefer something a little more unusual can of course also offer delicious cocktails. You can also keep your guests happy with small snacks and nibbles. There is often an extra room in the registry office for such a reception. If the weather cooperates, you can move the whole thing outdoors. This part of the celebration becomes particularly important if, due to lack of space, not all guests have fit into the wedding room beforehand. After all, the champagne reception is the greeting of your guests as a married couple.
Where do we go with our guests after the registry office?
The champagne reception is often combined with a standing reception at the actual location of the celebration. The guests can already get to know each other and they don't get impatient if you have an appointment with the photographer, for example. A restaurant or café is suitable as a celebration location, but a large ballroom or garden is also conceivable. That is entirely up to your personal wishes. After the reception you can offer coffee and cake or a whole menu. Of course, both are possible in a row, it depends on your budget and how big you want to hold the celebration after the civil ceremony. long sleeve formal dresses
A tour of the regional sights (e.g. a castle) or a city tour can be a nice change for the guests in between. Ultimately, it is important that you feel comfortable with the program. You know your loved ones best and can assess how and where you can spend a wonderful day with them.
All questions answered? Then the organization can start! And in the midst of all the formalities and planning, don't forget that it's your day together. You have already found the most important thing - the civil wedding is only there to make your love official.