How to get Married in Germany as a Foreigner

Created: Oct 2, 2023 | Updated: Jan 29, 2024

Getting married in Germany as a foreigner is a multifaceted process, involving a blend of legal formalities, cultural exploration, and meticulous planning. It necessitates a thorough understanding of German marriage laws, a deep dive into the rich traditions, and, most importantly, the creation of memorable experiences. This guide is crafted to provide insights, advice, and practical information to help international couples navigate the intricate process of getting married in Germany.

To do this, we talk about the following aspects of a German wedding in this article: 

  1. Legal Framework for Marriages in Germany
  2. Legal Requirements for Getting Married in Germany as a Foreigner
  3. Documents Required for Foreigners to get Married in Germany
  4. Planning Your German Wedding
  5. The Wedding Ceremony
  6. Civil Ceremony Details
  7. Religious Ceremony Details
  8. After the Wedding - Legalizing Your Marriage
  9. Updating Residency and Citizenship Status
  10. Integrating into German Society
  11. FAQs about getting married in Germany as a Foreigner


Legal Framework for Marriages in Germany

Germany recognizes both civil and religious marriages, but it’s the civil marriage that is legally binding. A religious ceremony can be arranged, but it does not have legal standing without a preceding civil ceremony. The civil ceremony is conducted at a local registry office (Standesamt), and it is here that the marriage is legally recorded.

Civil Marriage Procedure

To begin the civil marriage process, couples must first apply at the local Standesamt. Here, they will be guided through the necessary paperwork and informed of any additional requirements. Following the submission and verification of all required documents, couples need to make a declaration of their intent to marry. The Standesamt then conducts a thorough review to ensure compliance with all legal requirements before granting approval for the marriage to proceed.

Application Process

The application process involves submitting several documents to the Standesamt, including passports, birth certificates, and certificates of no impediment to marriage “Ehefähigkeitszeugnis”, proving the individuals are legally allowed to marry. Some Standesamts may have additional requirements, such as residency requirements or mandatory pre-marital counselling sessions.

The Role of Sworn Translation

Since Germany operates under stringent legal norms, any document that is not in German must be translated by a sworn translator. Sworn translation in Germany is crucial as it ensures that all documents submitted are accurate representations of the originals. Obtaining a certified translation is paramount to avoid any legal discrepancies or delays in the marriage process. Couples should seek certified translation services well in advance to ensure smooth proceedings.

Waiting Period

After submitting the application, there is usually a waiting period which can vary depending on the individual circumstances of the couple and the specific requirements of the Standesamt. Couples might receive approval between a few weeks to several months.


Getting married in Germany


Legal Requirements for Getting Married in Germany as a Foreigner

The marriage laws in Germany are designed to accommodate both residents and non-residents, ensuring that international couples can celebrate their union in the picturesque locales of Germany. Here’s a more in-depth look at the legalities surrounding marriages in Germany:

  1. Age Requirement: Both partners must be at least 18 years old.
  2. Proof of Marital Status: Partners must be able to prove whether they are single, divorced, or widowed.
  3. Residency Requirement: At least one partner should have stayed in Germany for a minimum of 21 days.
  4. Declaration of Intent to Marry: Once all documents are submitted, couples must make a formal declaration of their intent to marry at the Standesamt. After a thorough review and verification of the submitted documents and the declaration, the Standesamt will grant approval for the marriage to proceed.
  5. Fulfilment of Any Additional Requirements: Some Standesamts may have additional requirements such as mandatory pre-marital counseling sessions or specific residency requirements which must be fulfilled before the marriage can proceed.
  6. Payment of Fees: The civil ceremony in Germany costs between €50 – €200, excluding the application and the marriage certificate fee, which must be paid as required. The local registry may have its fees listed on its website.
  7. Name Change Declaration: If either partner intends to change their surname post-marriage, a name declaration might be needed as part of the application process.
  8. Parental Consent: While the legal age to marry is 18, couples aged 16 or 17 can marry with parental consent.
  9. Prenuptial Agreement (Optional): If the couple decides to have a prenuptial agreement, it must be created and finalized before the wedding.
  10. Witnesses: You'll need two adult witnesses at the ceremony. They will need to provide identification.
  11. Visa or Residency Permit: Non-EU citizens may need a valid visa or residency permit allowing them to stay in Germany for the intended period.
  12. Submission of Required Documents: Couples need to submit several documents including:
  • Valid Passports
  • Birth Certificates
  • Certificates of No Impediment to Marriage (proving individuals are legally allowed to marry)
  • Proof of Residency
  • Divorce Decree (if applicable)
  • Death Certificate of previous spouse (if applicable)
  • Sworn Translation of foreign documents


Documents Required for Foreigners to get Married in Germany 

To validate eligibility, you must submit several documents to the local registry office (Standesamt). The list of documents required to get married in Germany includes:

  1. Valid Passports.
  2. Birth Certificates.
  3. Certificate of No Impediment (CNI).
  4. Proof of Marital Status, such as a divorce decree or death certificate of a previous spouse, if applicable.
  5. Proof of Residency (rental agreement or utility bill).
  6. Visa or Residence Permit (If applicable, for non-EU nationals).
  7. Certified translation of all foreign language documents.


Marriage License

Once you have submitted all the required documents and they have been verified by the Standesamt, you can apply for your marriage license. This license is a legal acknowledgement of both your intent to marry and is a prerequisite for organizing a legally valid wedding. Obtaining the license involves additional fees, and there may be a waiting period before it is issued, depending on the specific circumstances and the workload of the local Standesamt.

Once the marriage license is obtained, you can officially set a wedding date. It is advisable to select the date after receiving the license to avoid any scheduling conflicts or cancellations.


Planning Your German Wedding

Planning a wedding in Germany requires meticulous preparation, from selecting an ideal location and setting a convenient date to managing the budget and understanding German wedding traditions. Here’s a more detailed look into each aspect of planning your German wedding:

  1. Choosing the Right Location
    Germany is home to a wide array of beautiful and diverse wedding venues. Whether you prefer a historical castle, a tranquil lakeside, or a sophisticated urban setting, Germany has something to offer. When selecting a location, consider factors such as the availability of the venue, the number of guests it can accommodate, and its proximity to accommodations for your guests. Researching and visiting multiple venues can help you find one that aligns with your vision and budget.
  2. Setting the Date
    Selecting the ideal date involves considering several factors. The weather is a crucial element, especially if you are planning an outdoor wedding. Additionally, the availability of your desired venue and the convenience of your guests also play significant roles in deciding the date. Ensure to check local holidays and festivals, as they can impact the availability and pricing of venues and accommodations.
  3. Budgeting for Your Wedding
    Creating a comprehensive and realistic wedding budget is important. Itemize each component, such as venue rental, catering, attire, and decoration, and allocate funds accordingly. Regularly monitor your expenses to avoid any financial strain and to ensure you are staying within your budget. Consider having a contingency fund for unexpected expenses that may arise. Here is a free wedding budget template.
  4. Guest List and Invitations
    Crafting a guest list involves balancing your desires with your budget constraints. Once the list is finalized, sending out invitations well in advance allows guests to make necessary arrangements. Given the international nature of the wedding, consider sending bilingual invitations to accommodate non-German-speaking guests.
  5. Wedding Traditions and Customs
    Germany is rich in wedding traditions and customs that can add a unique charm to your celebration. For instance, the couple sawing a log represents overcoming obstacles together in the marriage. Understanding and incorporating such traditions can enrich the wedding experience and create lasting memories. However, it’s crucial to integrate these traditions respectfully and authentically.
  6. Hiring Vendors
    Finding the right wedding vendor is crucial for realizing your wedding vision. From florists and photographers to caterers and musicians, each vendor plays a vital role in shaping your wedding. Use local platforms, seek recommendations, and read reviews to find reliable and professional vendors. Clearly communicate your expectations and requirements and ensure that the vendors can meet them.
  7. Dress and Attire
    Choosing the perfect wedding dress and attire is one of the most exciting aspects of wedding planning. Germany offers a plethora of bridal boutiques and designers where you can find dresses ranging from traditional to modern designs. Don’t forget to consider the weather and the venue when selecting your attire. Additionally, allocate sufficient time for fittings and alterations.
  8. Accommodations and Transport
    Arranging accommodations for your guests, especially those travelling from abroad, is a thoughtful gesture. Reserve a block of rooms in a nearby hotel or provide a list of accommodation options. Additionally, organizing transportation between the venue and the accommodations can contribute to a smoother and more enjoyable experience for your guests.
  9. Wedding Day Timeline
    Creating a well-structured timeline for your wedding day helps in ensuring that everything runs smoothly. Allocate sufficient time for each segment of the wedding, from the ceremony to the reception, and communicate the timeline to your vendors and guests. Having a clear schedule will help manage time efficiently and allow you to enjoy your special day without unnecessary stress.


The Wedding Ceremony


Civil Ceremony Details

A civil ceremony in Germany is a structured affair. It usually includes the exchange of vows, rings, and the signing of the marriage certificate in the presence of a registrar and witnesses. It is essential to arrive on time and to have all the necessary documents. Although this ceremony is more formal and less personal, couples can incorporate little personalized elements, like music or readings, to make the experience more memorable. It is a formal procedure attended by close family and friends. After the legal civil ceremony, couples often opt for a religious ceremony, allowing them to celebrate their union in a manner that reflects their spiritual beliefs. This additional ceremony can be personalized and held in a church, synagogue, mosque, or any other place of worship, depending on the couple’s religion.


Civil ceremony in Germany 


Religious Ceremony Details

A religious ceremony provides an opportunity for couples to exchange vows in a more intimate and spiritual setting. The rituals and proceedings of this ceremony depend on the couple's religious traditions and can be customized to include personal touches. It's important to coordinate with the religious institution and fulfil any prerequisites they might have, like counselling sessions or membership requirements.


Wedding Reception

The wedding reception follows the ceremony and is a time for celebration and joy. The couple and their guests gather to enjoy food, music, and dance. Depending on the couple's preference and budget, the reception venue can range from a grand banquet hall to a more intimate setting, like a restaurant or garden.


Entertainment and Music

The choice of music and entertainment is crucial in setting the tone for the celebration. Whether opting for a live band playing traditional German wedding music or a DJ spinning the latest hits, ensure the entertainment resonates with your guests and creates a festive atmosphere. Some couples also choose to include traditional German wedding games and dances to add a touch of local flavour to their celebration.


Photography and Videography

Hiring professional photographers and videographers in Germany will allow you and your spouse to relive your special day and share it with loved ones. When selecting a photographer or videographer, review their portfolios, discuss your vision and expectations, and consider their style and experience to ensure they can accurately capture your wedding's unique moments.


Wedding Photographer in Germany


After the Wedding - Legalizing Your Marriage

After the celebration is over, the next step is to legalize your marriage by obtaining the official marriage certificate from the Standesamt. This document serves as legal proof of your union and is essential for any future legal proceedings or applications related to your marital status, such as visa applications or name changes. The marriage certificate will be issued for a fee of €70 - €120.

Finalizing legal requirements involves ensuring that all documents are correctly submitted and that any conditions imposed by German law are met. This may include updating your residency status, applying for a family reunion visa if your spouse is not an EU citizen, and making necessary changes to your tax status.


Updating Residency and Citizenship Status

Non-EU spouses must update their residency status after marrying a German citizen or a legal resident. This often involves applying for a spousal visa or a family reunion visa, allowing them to live in Germany with their spouse. Additionally, marrying a German citizen may open pathways to acquiring German citizenship, although this typically involves fulfilling residency requirements and passing a citizenship test.


Integrating into German Society

After the wedding, integrating into German society becomes a crucial aspect of marital life, especially as a foreigner. Learning the German language, understanding local customs and traditions, and building a social network are vital steps in creating a harmonious life in Germany.

Understanding and embracing the German lifestyle and culture can enrich your experience as an expatriate. Germany boasts a rich cultural heritage, diverse culinary traditions, and numerous festivals and events. Participating in local activities, learning about German history and art, and sampling German cuisine are excellent ways to immerse oneself in German life and strengthen the bond with the local community.



 Embarking on the journey of marriage in Germany can be a beautiful experience. The meticulous approach to planning and the thoughtful incorporation of German customs can transform a wedding into a harmonious blend of cultures and a celebration of love.

Effective communication is another cornerstone in planning a successful wedding in Germany. Learning the basics of the German language or having a translator can bridge the language gap, fostering understanding and cooperation between the couple and the local vendors and guests. It helps in navigating the myriad of details involved in organizing a wedding and ensures that the couple’s vision is accurately realized.

In conclusion, getting married in Germany as a foreigner is not just about fulfilling legal requirements; it is about creating a shared experience that is respectful of and enriched by German culture. It’s about building a foundation for a lifetime partnership amidst the beauty and tradition that Germany has to offer. By embracing this opportunity with open hearts and minds, international couples can experience the joy and unity that come with celebrating love in this magnificent country.




What Happens if I Marry a German Citizen?

Marrying a German citizen grants you the right to reside in Germany, but it does not automatically confer German citizenship.


Is a Foreign Marriage Certificate Valid in Germany?

Yes, but it may require a certified translation and authentication to be recognized.


Which Country is Easiest to Get Married as a Foreigner?

Countries with fewer legal restrictions and requirements, such as Gibraltar and Las Vegas in the USA, are considered easier for foreigners to get married.


How Quickly Can You Get Married in Germany?

Once all required documents are submitted and approved, it can take approximately 4–6 weeks to get a marriage appointment.


What are the Benefits of Being Married in Germany?

Being married in Germany offers tax benefits, access to spousal pensions, and the right to reside in Germany for non-EU spouses.


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