Getting married in BOTH Germany and America

39 posts in this topic

No one yet has mentioned the technical possibility of getting married in the USA, getting an annulment or divorce without telling your relatives there and then getting married again in Germany (note: doesn't work the other way around).

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Nobody's mentioned it because it's a stupid idea, unless the couple is into excessive contact with, and excessive expenses arising from totally unnecessary bureaucracy. Plus, from then on, you would have to list yourself as divorced and re-married on official documents. Some states require a waiting period between divorce/annulment and re-marriage.

 

I don't understand why people are confused. As far as the state in Germany or the US is concerned, you can only get married once. You can say your vows wherever you want, as long as you say them once in the locally official venue and in front of someone legally granted the power to witness them. Nobody needs to have two official weddings. You can celebrate your marriage as many times as you want. Hell, walk into a bar, buy everyone a beverage, and tell them they're now all wedding guests.

 

 

Get married in America, don't tell your relatives, then have the ceremony in Germany. That's what I'm doing

 

When will your anniversary be?

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Also, if we can only get legally married once, does that mean each country will actually do a search to see if we're married before granting a marriage license? I'd really like to do both countries.

 

What does it mean to just do one's vows unofficially in the country in which we're not getting married? Is that like a ceremony, just without official status?

 

In Germany, the only ceremony which is legally recognised by the government is the civil ceremony at city hall done by a bureaucrat. Any other ceremony, for example a Church wedding, does not have official status in the eyes of German law.

 

In the USA, marriage isn't as strictly controlled as in Germany. An Elvis impersonator in Vegas could have the right to perform legally valid marriages recognised by the government, as could a Priest or Minister or Rabbi. So it is a common misperception that a Church wedding is all you need to be officially married. What is really happening in the USA is that you're combining the two different aspects of ceremony and government red tape in one go. In Germany the two are separate. Only the government paperwork counts in either country.

 

So a marriage ceremony has two parts to it. There is the actual ceremony, which can be anything a couple wants, from big formal wedding in white to Elvis or barefoot on a beach. Then there is the government paperwork which is often combined with the ceremony in the USA, but is always done separately in Germany. Only the government paperwork leads to an officially government recognised marriage. Even in the USA, you can go to City Hall and have only a civil marriage without any other wedding ceremony. That's the one which counts.

 

If you want to have a ceremony in both countries, there's nothing stopping you. But you have to decide whether to do the official government paperwork in Germany or in the USA. In Germany that would mean a trip to City Hall. In the USA it would likely just mean signing a few extra papers right after the ceremony, assuming that whoever married you in the USA has the right to perform legal weddings.

 

So let's assume you two want two nice big Church weddings.

 

Scenario 1

Get marriage license in USA, can take a day or two depending on State. Have Church wedding in USA by legally recognised Priest or Minister or Rabbi (or Elvis). After the ceremony, the couple is taken to the side, signs the government papers and you are now married both in the eyes of God (or Elvis) and in the eyes of the government. Then you go to Germany and have another Church ceremony without doing any German government paperwork. Your USA paperwork will have to get translated and submitted to the German government for recognition.

 

Scenario 2

Do German paperwork to prove you are single and get permission to marry in Germany. Go to City Hall for the legal signing of the papers marriage ceremony. Then have the Church wedding ceremony. Then you go to USA and have another Church ceremony without doing the legal paperwork at the end. This is usually called an affirmation of your wedding vows, and is not unusual. Many USians do an affirmation for their 10th or 25th wedding anniversary.

 

Start thinking of getting married as a two-step process and then you'll stop being confused. The only step that is required to be recognised by a government is the civil signing of the papers ceremony. The other step of having a religious ceremony (or Elvis) is disregarded by the government and is only important for the couple. Thus both in Germany and the USA you can just get married at City Hall with no other ceremony required. Anything else in addition to the formal signing of the papers ceremony is optional and can be done as many times as you like. But you can only do the official government marriage paperwork once.

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Get married in the states, it is far simpler. We got married in Chicago by a judge at a location we chose where my family and friends could attend. Then when I moved over to Germany we had a party for her side of the family. Both of our parents attended both parties. The whole German marriage ceremony always seemed a bit more like meeting with a banker for a loan than being a special ceremony. We borrowed a digital projector, hooked it up to a laptop and projected a slide show from the US wedding ceremony on a wall that repeated during dinner which allowed the guests to see some of the US ceremony, something which many Germans are fascinated about in it's difference from what they are used to.

 

Get a couple of copies of your marriage certificate, easier to get it right away than having to go back later if you need another copy. Get an Apostille, which is essentially the internationally agreed upon "notary" of a document that different govts accept and recognize that a document is legit. Most govt agencies that issue legal documents handle also issuing Apostilles as well, just have to request it, so depending on the state whom ever issues your marriage certificate can give you an Apostille. Any US issued documents will have to be translated in Germany by a qualified agent, not a big deal, then your paperwork can be submitted to the govt and your marriage is recognized.

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When will your anniversary be?

 

Usually a day before I shouted at, if I had to guess.

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Welp, here I am to chime in, as usual, on how really not that difficult it is to get married in Germany, especially if this is your first marriage.

 

 

As an American who recently married in Germany, I would suggest doing the US first. There is tons of paperwork to get married here in Germany as an auslander, including officially translated birth certificate, affadavit from US consulate that you are eligible to be married, and then the paperwork needs to go to a German court to determine whether you are eligible for marriage based on the paperwork

 

I'm in a similar situation to the OP, but I don't know what U.S. state he's from. Was here for three years on a visa that was valid for another year, "engaged" to a German (I say "engaged" because there was no super-romantic, down-on-bended-knee proposal, just both of us deciding it would be the most prudent choice and discussing it from there).

 

IIRC all he needed was his Ausweiß. The Standesamt did all the rest of the fact-checking.

 

From the States, I needed a birth certificate issued fewer than six months before the proposed wedding (got that sent to me by a friend in the States, it is a public record and therefore can be purchased by anybody from the County Courthouse for 17 bucks). I had it translated for something like fifteen euro by someone I found here on Toytown.

 

From the U.S. Consulate, I needed a "proof of never having been married form", which they provided to me both in English and already translated into German, on one sheet of paper. This set me back a whopping €24 and a train ride down to BFE.

 

And of course, a valid passport and my Polizeiliche Anmeldung.

 

The entire process took about a month from the time we made our first appointment and handed in the paperwork. The rest of it was just waiting until the Justice of the Peace had time to marry us.

 

For people not in a major hurry, getting married in Germany is so not as big of a drama as people make out... or who knows, maybe we were really just super lucky or something. But I still don't know where this "mountains of paperwork" business stems from.

 

I am one of the biggest whiners and complainers I know, so if it didn't seem to distress me that much it is hard to imagine how it can really be that big of a pain in the ass for everybody else.

 

Again though we could have been lucky. Our situation was also ideal in that neither of us had been married before, neither had children, I already had a valid work and residence visa and we had been registered at the same address for over three years so there was no real doubt that we were a real couple who wanted to get married for love (not that we did, haha).

 

Can anyone weigh in on all the rest of the mountainous paperwork that we were somehow miraculously spared? I actually would really like to know what other people's terrible pain-in-the-ass experiences getting married here in Germany entailed.

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Lots of good information here but I guess it's a couple years old now so hopefully it still applies. I just have a few questions that I would love clarity on.

 

If I (an American citizen, currently with residence in Germany) and my fiance (a German currently with primary residence in Switzerland and secondary residence in Germany) choose to get married in the U.S. what will we need to declare that marriage in Germany? Just a translated marriage certificate and Apostille?

 

Do we need to get the marriage recognized in both Switzerland AND Germany?

 

If he will eventually be having his primary residence in Germany should we just wait until that happens to get married? Trying to do this as simply as possible.

 

Thanks!

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I got married in Germany to my German hubby and then we filed all the paperwork in the US so we'd be recognized there, too. Our wedding documents in Germany were in German, French and English, so it was no problem to get my Soc Sec card, driver's license, bank accounts and everything changed to my new name.

 

We had two parties, and they were lovely. If it's ceremony you want, you can have someone re-bless your union or some kind of re-committment ceremony in the country where you didn't have the original ceremony. The German paperwork was a pain in the ass (they even wanted my parents' marriage certificate file number- and would you believe that my mom found it?) The Apostile is a pain, too, as they're not a common request in the US, but you'll find someone that can do it. We didn't have a choice since certain relatives can't fly due to health problems, so we just had to do double wedding, which was really awesome in the end.

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I don't know about Switzerland, but here in Germany I just used my marriage certificate. We didn't even have it translated into German. Probably depends on your employer(s) and Stadesamt.

 

btw, we are also a US/German couple.

 

Good luck!

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Well, this is great timing! I just today found this forum and LaProfa's post could have been mine. I married in the Black Forest on May 9, to my German citizen, American Permanent Resident, husband. We, too, traveled to Germany to marry so his grandmother could be there. We live in Atlanta, though, and I have been having a hard time getting a straight answer on how to proceed. It sounds like we do not to get married again at the courthouse (as a friend who married in Paris did, but I suspect they did not get the French wedding certificate and were more ceremonial). We did the whole thing and yes, the German way is a PITA when it comes to paperwork. But, it's done!

 

So, to confirm. We have a German marriage certificate / license and have an international version. Here in Atlanta, I can just take that to the various offices like Social Security, DMV, and then do passport, banks, etc. and that's it? Oh how I hope!

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Wow dvollmer, you guys chose to get married in Germany? What a hassle! Seriously, it is sooo much easier to get married in the US but since you've already done that then kudsos to y'all for going through all that. We had planned to get married in the US, but I fell pregnant and then was not able to travel. Ugh, just have the civil ceremony in Germany was full of paperwork! Our original plan had been to do a JP wedding in the US and a big church wedding in Germany.

 

Yes, yes, in the end it was wonderful and all worked out, but I was biting my nails, nervous that at any stage of the process something would be wrong with my paperwork!

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We got married in Potsdam in 2007 and like dessa_dangerous had no troubles with it at all. The opposite actually - the Standesamt told us how to get around the refusal of the Australian government to provide a "No impediment to Marriage" certificate to gay couples. Why would we marry in Germany? Because we can. OK it's an eingetragene Lebenspartnerschaft instead of a "real" Ehevertrag, but legally it's just about the same thing. It is not recognised in Australia, but that's not something the Germans can do anything about.

 

Sure Germans don't do quickie marriages like they do in Vegas - but is it really such a bad thing to think about your marriage before entering it?

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@dvollmer, if you just called your local register of deeds or the magistrates office they might be able to give you the info you need. I called both offices yesterday in the town we are thinking of marrying in and they were very nice and helpful. If they don't have the information I've also found the U.S. embassy here to answer my questions pretty quickly. Maybe the German embassy in the U.S. is knowledgeable on the issue. Congrats on your marriage! Got pictures?! :)

 

@ everyone else, thanks for your input. I've made some calls to the U.S. and found out that courthouse weddings only take place M-F during business hours. Weekends, holidays or evenings have to be done at the county jail! At least this is the case in two cities I looked in. I did read that in some places a magistrate may agree to make an appointment with you off-site. However, we will just arrange it for a friday at the courthouse. I'll write the details about paperwork they provided in case its helpful to anyone else. Note that this may be different depending on your state.

 

Instructons specific to North Carolina: Go to the register of deeds during their open hours and apply for a marriage license. Just need an ID and SS#. For my German they said he'll need to sign a form since he doesn't have a SS# and bring his passport. We get the paperwork that day and have 60 days to get married in North Carolina. Once married and everything is signed we bring back the license (I think you have 10 days to bring it back) to the same office and if we are there at least an hour before closing we get the certified copy the same day. We will get extra copies for the DMV and to bring back to Germany. Then we have to get an apostille so that we can have the license recognized in Germany. We will get ours in person and it is issued by the State Treasury office. Luckily for us this is in one of the cities we are visiting. Their website says that if you drop it off before a certain time you can pick it up one business day later. My next step would be changing my name with the various offices and I'm hoping that can be done by mail.

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I'm American, living in Germany, marrying a German in 2 weeks.

 

I asked about other marriage options at the Standesamt, and our Beamtin told me that if we got married in the US (or Denmark, for that matter), we would still have to do the same paperwork, but after the fact, and that the marriage would be considered "schwebend ungültig" (!!!?) until the German paperwork was done.

 

Schwebend ungültig! My new favorite German expression. It's right after "Kein Anerkennungsversagungsgrund wurde erfasst", which was the answer from the court to my application for exemption from producing the certificate of marriage eligibility -- in other words, yes, go ahead and get married.

 

Just wanted to throw that in.

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Hi Milsa,

 

It was my understanding that for the marriage here you have to get your birth certificate and something that shows you're not married (which many have posted about having trouble getting this), then have these documents professionally translated, submit all this to a court, and then also hire a translator to actually translate the ceremony on the day...because if you don't speak German you need to understand what is happening.

 

For the U.S. it seems easier because as far as I can tell we just have to have our marriage license and apostille translated professionally.

 

If you have conflicting info could you share?

 

Thanks! and good luck with your wedding!

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I'm a US citizen and my wife is German. We were married in the US before I moved here. When I arrived, we had to get our marriage 'recognized' by Germany, which involved providing some basic paperwork (US identification for me, US marriage certificate with translation and apostille, etc.). It wasn't that difficult, it took about a month to process the paperwork.

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I only quickly skimmed this topic, but just a couple experiences:

 

I know a few couples (not naming names!) who got married BOTH in Germany and (in their cases) the US. One German and one American citizen, of course. Each was totally separate, and as I understood it from them, was so that they wouldn't have to bother with paperwork, notarized translations, etc. etc. so they could plan one wedding for the Germans in Germany, one for the Americans in the US. Technically, that's not really allowed, but eh.

 

One of the couples actually are both German citizens, but they wanted to have a small intentionally kitschig drive-thru wedding while on vacation in the US, before the bigger church ceremony a few months later in Germany.

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