Having a German-American wedding

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Posted

I am American and just recently got engaged to my German boyfriend. I am in the beginning processes of planning, and have to admit I am already totaly overwhelmed!!! There are just so many options (and I DON'T make decisions well). My friends and family don't have so much time or money to fly over here for a big wedding. However, I've always wanted to have a ceremony over here in romantic europe! I would also feel bad asking his friends and family to fly to the US. We have thought about having two separate weddings, but funds are limited.

Anyways, I would love to hear from those of you that have gone through this. How did you plan it all out? Did you do a ceremony in both countries? Did friends and families fly over? Did you hire wedding planners to help? If you got married in Germany, did you where a wedding dress to the stadesamt? Any ideas and advice would be greatly appreciated!!! Thanks!

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Posted

We got married in Hawaii just the two of us and thank god . The Hawaiins knew what paperwork was needed so it was much easier. From my point of view more work would have had to be done to have been married here. Do a search for it and you find experiences from others that have done here or there.

Edit: Most important lesson...patience will be your best friend.

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Posted

Can't help you with most of your questions as I've no experience with bi-national weddings (plus I don't understand what all the fuss is about with "romantic weddings" but that's just me...). In case you're wondering what the "done thing" is in Germany at the Standesamt: People do it whatever way they want to. A tiny minority just turn up in ordinary clothes; most dress up and some wear the full monty. So don't let anybody talk you into something - it's really up to you, especially if your funds are limited. If you're going to buy a wedding dress anyway, why not wear it twice?

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Posted

We have already been to the Rathaus to get all the information on paper work and such. That is not at all a problem for us since we're thinking spring/summer of 2014. I'm more interested on the where part and how others were able to share their big day with friends and family. Getting married without at least my parents there is NOT an option!

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Posted

We got hitched in a Standesamt in Bayrischewald, if you do it in a small town its a lot nicer, less rushed and more relaxed. If you have not got people helping you out financially even a small wedding is potentially expensive.

One good tradition here is that people give money not presents so you can estimate getting X amount back (there is a kind of accepted appropriate amount) which you can then say off sets some of the outlay.

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Posted

One solution might be to do what Joe suggested - have the Standesamt part here, followed by a small-scale reception, then have the larger party in the States. You might save some money by avoiding a full-blown church wedding and instead have an ordained minister "marry" you before (or as part of) the reception you have there.

On average, the Germans will have fewer problems with the idea of traveling to the U.S. than Americans (only a minority of whom actually have passports) have flying all the way to Europe. YMMV, of course.

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Posted

We did one wedding in each country and kept the guest list small in both so it was affordable. Usually brides wear something like a wedding suit or a nice sun dress to the Standesamt, unless that's the big show (meaning no church wedding after). Then, you would wear the white dress.

If you don't overdo it, things don't have to be so pricey. There are lots of sites that teach how to be a budget wedding planner. We had a few friends and family members attend both, but mostly people stuck to their own countries. You do not have to invite everyone under the sun. If your fiance's parents insist on inviting certain people (neighbors, friends, etc), it would be appropriate for them to contribute to the cost. Same with your parents.

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Posted

The Standesamt here in Germany is well used to people who won't have an additional church wedding, and will often end up having a really nice ceremony. I attended a wedding here just over a year ago, and the Standesbeamter (registrar) took great pride in the speech he wrote. It was a lovely ceremony, and nothing seemed amiss.

We also made sure that it would be a bit special. I got their folks to organise a 'Sektempfang' outside the Standesamt after - for which I admittedly had an ulterior motive: I was the wedding photographer, and the family group shots were all to be taken outside the registry office. It was December, and freezing cold. So the champagne, water and orange juice we had organised were really there to keep those entertained who were not posing for shots. Worked really well.

If you can live with only your close family attending the German part of the wedding, I would think having your folks fly over, and then having the two of you fly over to have a celebration with all your family and friends back in the US would certainly be the least costly option.

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Posted

My American son married his German wife on the Fraueninsel in the Chiemsee, a very romantic setting. The bridal pair was in evening clothes. The justice of the peace was a woman of good humor and the entire ceremony was enjoyable and filled with happy laughter. You have to sign up long in advance, and ceremonies are Friday only. Five family members were there from the US as well as two couples, close friends of my son. With the bride's family, we filled the room. This was followed by lunch on the island and an evening reception/party with the newly-weds' friends.

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Posted

Congratulations on your engagement! My husband and I had ceremonies and celebrations in both Germany and the US. Because of my husband's limited vacation time, we had our first ceremony at our Standesamt with only our families invited. My parents and sister flew over from the States and my husband's family drove in from their respective cities in Germany. My husband planned most of the German festivities (brunch before the ceremony and coffee/cake hour & dinner afterwards), and his special wish was that we wear Dirndl and Lederhosen. It was a completely stress-free, beautiful day.

We had our second ceremony, reception, and pre-wedding dinner a year later in the US because of vacation time, logistics, and finances. Our friends and families understood that we couldn't invite everyone to Germany and were happy to celebrate our marriage, even a year after the first ceremony. (Perhaps people were just happy to have an excuse for a party and a reunion?) What was really important to us was the chance for us to bring our friends and family together as one community. It was a priceless experience.

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Posted

We got married here and had a reception in the US. From my understanding at the time we got married, my husband (then-fiancee) would have required a fiancee visa in order us for to have gotten married there first, as neither was living there at the time, which was a lot more bureaucracy than we had to deal with here. We had both in the city hall and the church weddings here(bilingual, thanks to the English congregation here). Not sure how your German is, but if it is not that great, you will need a translator for the city hall, but here in NRW, you can just have anyone do it, so a friend of my husband did it so I would look into that. My parents and grandparents came over for the wedding and we had a lot of my husbands' friends for a reception after the wedding. We saved money by doing the reception in a church hall and having a buffet and the only music was something from a friend of my husband, who played the piano that the church hall had.

The reception in the US was mostly paid by my parents, but they even managed to save a bit by getting a friend's restaurant to cater and my cousin got a friend of hers to DJ for a reduced price. For both the US and Germany, we asked for money, rather than presents to pay for the wedding and receptions and that helped out a lot and no one seemed to have a problem with it as they knew we had the costs of doing it in both places. See who you know here, and what connections you have back in the US and that will help out as well like we did.

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Posted

We got married in the U.S. and every single one of his friends and family came. I still am in shock about that but they really wanted to make it a vacation and a wedding at the same time. I am happy to say that they all had a fabulous time.

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Posted

Do the paper part in Denmark and have two small wedding parties, one in Germany and one in the US.

If you still associate Europe with romance... well...

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Posted

The Danes accept documents in German and English without translation, and issue marriage certs in numerous languages at once. The bureaucracy is a lot easier to deal with, and the whole thing's pretty cheap. Just don't do the party in Denmark, as food and drink prices there are ludicrous.

Depending on your budget, you can rent an old palace or castle in Germany for a pittance, especially if you look east.

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Posted

We got married at my sister's house in the states for the American relatives. Then had a small church wedding in Germany. Worked out really well.

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Posted

My GerMan and I got engaged over the holidays as well and are planning to do a wedding in December in the US, and then a dinner in Germany for those people who couldn't make it to the US. After reading everything on here about how complicated it can be to get married as a non-German in Germany, I figured I wasn't going to mess with that and just settled on Texas. Plus, I have a lot more people that I'd invite to the wedding, so it makes more sense to have the wedding where the most guests are already going to be.

The major concern I have/had was about the legality of a non US citizen marrying a US citizen in the US. At least after the most basic phone call to the Marriage License Bureau asking "What happens if my partner is a non-American / has no social security number?", I was reassured that you can apply for your license without it. And it's my understanding that as long as you aren't planning to live in the US directly after getting married, there isn't a need to apply for a spouse visa. So basically, go to the US, get married, and come back to Germany. At the moment, everything seems to be running just a bit too smoothly, so I'm kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop, and to learn about reasons X, Y and Z why this or that is a terrible idea / won't actually work. Thank god I'm marrying an optimist.

Edited to Add: To answer two of your specific questions, no, I am not hiring a wedding planner, and I have seen women wearing wedding dresses at the Standesamt, but I don't think that there is necessarily a standard one way or the other ("just" nice clothes vs. wedding dress).

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Posted

We just did our wedding here in the Standesamt in Potsdam and it was fantastic. My parents were going to come over, but couldn't justify the massive price for just 1 week.

So we video Skyped the wedding, my whole family got to watch live from the comfort of their lounge room! They loved it and really felt a part of it. Everyone over here in Germany could see them on the laptop screen and my family had their side plugged into a big screen, so they could see and hear everything. They could sit their with their Champagne and watch the show!

Of course we'll go back and visit in March and have a nice relaxing lunch with my family to celebrate, without all the fuss, stress and big cost of a second wedding. We're both totally pleased with this and it made it a fun and interesting event for my family. :D

EDIT: My German wife had a lovely wedding dress, flowers and all at the Standesamt. It is really up to your personal preference.

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Posted

I am American and just recently got engaged to my German boyfriend...

Did you get you an engagement ring? That is not a German thing. I made sure my then boyfriend knew the "rules" and he did not disappoint!

American here, married my German in a civil ceremony, just us two in 2011. Why just us two? Because we both didn't think it would be fair to have only his family there and none of mine. Our original plan was to get married in the U.S. over Christmas in 2011. His parents were invited, and we would do a small ceremony, just the immediate family, but then I found out I was pregnant and would have been 35 weeks by then and we thought that would be too stressful.

We had our church wedding in August 2012. I did my damnedest to accommodate any and all of my American friends and family by having the ceremony in August, during school holidays, in the romantic Pfalz on the Weinstrasse, to offer them something since they would be coming a very long way. Of the dozen or so people I invited, only my mother and my half sister (who having just finished her graduate degree, was unemployed) managed to come. I let everyone know over a year in advance, sent out save-the-dates and I was very peeved when only after sending out all their invites, I had to track them down to see if they were coming or not and they all said they weren't coming, couldn't afford it. Of course it was too late to invite other friends we had to leave off the guest list because by this time (Germans for ya) had already planned their summer holidays half a year in advance. I was gutted. We even went to great lengths to find and use an online wish list (in English) so they would not have to bring presents (since I knew many Americans would feel uncomfortable giving cash). Well, my sister and mother were the only ones who began saving up money in time.

Germans will not hesitate to travel to the U.S. and use the wedding as an excuse to go on vacation. I have many friends with kids who would probably have not been able to come over, but you'll never have it all.

BTW, we started saving for our wedding over a year advance and as a result, covered every expense by the time the day came and went. It made us feel soooo much better knowing we would not have any debt. We both love Grey Goose, but didn't tell anyone that was what would be served at the bar. Our bill for vodka was still shocking, but it was our party and that's how we wanted it!

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Posted

We had Standesamt and church weddings in Germany, but celebrated our wedding in the States beforehand (friends threw a big surprise co-ed wedding shower when we were in the States about 6 months before our wedding) and afterward (we hosted a dinner in the States for about 40 friends who weren't able to come over to Germany for our ceremony - this dinner was 4 or 5 months after our wedding, IIRC. It's more than a decade ago, now).

Elfenstar, so sorry to hear that few of your US invitees were able to come to your wedding. I bet that is really common. We had asked around (in those pre-survey-Monkey/Doodle days) so that we could pick a date that would be most do-able for everybody. Turned out that summer (which we thought would've been perfect for all) was bad for almost everybody, and we ended up getting married in autumn, which meant that it was difficult for folks with school-aged kids to come (though some managed to leave kids at home with grandma or whoever) but far far cheaper than high-season summer prices for flights to Europe. Always such a tough call, though, and you can never really tell if what people say a year or even a few months in advance is going to work will actually result in them attending. Fortunately we did have a good number of US-based friends and family attend, but it was also a different economy way back then.

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Did you get you an engagement ring? That is not a German thing. I made sure my then boyfriend knew the "rules" and he did not disappoint!

I did get an engagement ring! I had also made sure he knew the "rules" haha. Mine is pretty modest compared to a lot in the US, but it suits me just fine! I even find myself a little self-conscious about it over here! I get some interesting responses when I tell people that yes, it is a real diamond.

Thank you all so much for sharing your experiences with me! It was very helpful hearing all the different options out there! We have a lot to think about and discuss now. :D

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Posted

First, Congratulations!!!

My Irish fiance and I decided to get married in my hometown (Boston) and throw a traditional American wedding with a civil ceremony. We've invited both families and our friends from Ireland and Munich. So far, we've been overwhelmed by the response of our people from this side of the pond and everyone is jumping at the chance to come. I'm really touched that so many of our friends/family members are willing to make the trip.

To be honest, since you are not a fan of making decisions I recommend having one wedding and party. I am astounded by how many little tedious choices we have to make over one day of our lives! Talk to your families first and then decide what's best and what they are capable of.

Good Luck!

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I'm in a similar situation. My German boyfriend and I just got engaged (with ring)!! We're both very excited but I'm worried about accomadating him and his family. I really want to get married in my hometown which is Indianapolis in the US. Chicago is only 3 hours away but he's worried that no one from Europe will come if we do it there and that it will be 'my' wedding, not ours. But I have a HUGE family and there is no way for us to elope or get married overhere and exclude them, I would be disowned. His family is pretty small, parents, sister/husband and their 2 kids. And then a few friends. I'm thinking of doing a party over here later, but it would be something informal.

I was curious how any of you enticed your EU friends/Fam to come to the US if it wasn't a major city? Also, any tips for planning in the US from so far away?! Thanks and Congrats to you fellow engaged ladies :)

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I was married a year ago and had planned to have two receptions. My story is long and full of complications that I hope you won't have to worry about. If this is your first marriage, you should be okay. We had been married before and with translations and getting documents from across the ocean, it took 2.5 years. My horror story is an exception, I think, so don't worry about that, but it may take a while even with the standard stuff. When planning make things flexible until you are reasonably sure of a date. It would be really bad to set things up and then the red tape make you miss the date you planned.

So, funds were limited and had been eaten up by the process anyway. We had hoped to have a small dinner the weekend of, but for some reason all of my husband's family were too busy and none of mine could make it either. We had a few friends with us at the Standesamt and that turned out to be okay. We hope to one day have a small thing in the US, but again funds make that a dream at this point. It will probably end up being an anniversary party one year or other.

I'm a little disappointed, but not enough to be upset. The joy of finally getting married and the relief from the hell it was made up for the lack of ceremony. Still, the guy performing the ceremony at the Standesamt was very nice and it's quite formal for a courthouse wedding. My ex and I married in a courtroom as well and this was much nicer: they attempt to make it a bit more personal than just giving you a stamp and sending you on your way. I think if you have a few close people with you, it can be a really nice experience. I would highly recommend a meal out or something at a better time to invite more people if you need. The Standesamt operates mostly on business hours. Our wedding was in the morning on a weekday. It will limit who can come if they can't get off work during the day.

Congratulations and remember, whatever comprimises you make now just gives you another reason for a party later! Maybe wedding here, one year anniversary in the States (much more relaxed since there won't be any of the immigration/political beurocracy hanging over it all).

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