New in 2009: how to get married in Germany

Almost every student of German will know that you cannot get married in a church in Germany without going to the registry office to get married there first.  This either results in the weddings being on the same day, consecutive days, or even months apart.

This is all down to a little known law called the “Reichsgesetz über die Beurkundung des Personenstands und die Eheschließung” which was passed in 1875 and is currently included in the “Personenstandsgesetz”.

That law took away the power of the churches to legally marry people, and instead passed this on to the state.  This law is about to change.

The “Personenstandsrechtsreformgesetz” makes a number of changes to the way in which the Standesämter – who register births, marriages and deaths in Germany – work.  The most significant change means that it will be possible to get married in a church, legally, without having to go to the registry office first.

The protestant Church in Germany has, however, announced that it is not planning any changes and will still only carry out weddings after the civil ceremony.

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