Civil Marriage: This Is What You Need To Know

Hello my beloved readership,

because of a technical issue the Wedding-Friday had to be delayed for two days, forgive me on this behalf. Today I want to tell you all about the civil wedding – however I am going to reduce it to the city of Hamburg where I have made my personal experiences. I want to tell you how the whole process works introducing you to the different steps and as well – what I find the most important – what you need to beware of and keep in mind.

Fall4Me wedding rule 4

The date to our civil marriage came our as suddenly as we stumbled into the new year. We have went there one day during their opening times got the date for our wedding noted and the date of registering our wedding officially. We have decided for 11 am as earliest date since we knew there was a lot to prepare: us, the guests had to make-up themselves, the people needed to be organized, there were some ceremonies ahead and last but not least we had a way to drive and get some sleep even though I for myself woke up at 6 am. But thinking of it I am sure I could not have waited longer for the time to come.

“When everyone around you is married you nearly tend to get married very soon as well.”
– Fall4Me

Why marrying civil?

There are two kinds of people in the world: some that do not believe in marriage, who have given up on believing in a proposal from their partner or think of it as waste of money but there are as well those who strongly believe in it probably out of tradition or the proper surrounding – when everyone around you is married you nearly tend to get married very soon as well. The last point is something my husband relates to.

Apart from that being the first to marry in your circle of friends causes a huge effect on enchanting your friends. One of my girls took a selfie of herself right before going out to my bachelorette party posting it as status on Whatsapp with an image tag: “When the first friend gets married #overlyhappy” (I love you M.).

There are a lot of other ways to get married:

  • a church wedding
  • a free wedding
  • living in a partnership
  • the wedding in Las Vegas

But thus the costs and change of the papers the civil marriage in particular brings a lot of long-term benefits, not only in Germany but as well in other countries. The most important thing to name is that married people are most likely to pay less taxes. Another important benefit would be that in the name of your wife or rather husband you are allowed to make decisions and what is most important to me as our registrar said: “This contract is for the eternity. There is no taking back.” – of course you can divorce but I for myself believe that when you are married there is a stronger bond to keep you together than when there is basically nothing that holds you together. It would be easier to say that you break up and leave than getting divorced which is connected with a lot of official stages.

Hand in hand through good and bad times
Credits: Anna Chojnowska for Fall4Me

Where and when can you marry civil?

Hamburg itself has 7 districts each one of them having its proper town hall or rather district authority. These are:

  • Altona (in the west)
  • Bergedorf (in the south-east)
  • Eimsbüttel (in the north-west)
  • Harburg (in the south)
  • Hamburg-Mitte (the center of Hamburg)
  • Hamburg-Nord (in the north of Hamburg)
  • Wandsbek (in the north-east)
district authority Hamburg-Nord
In front of the registry office in Hamburg-Nord. Credits: Fall4Me

The official pages explain that there is a huge complicated paperwork to marry in a different district but basically there is simply the rule given to treat the residents of the own district preferred. The rest is nearly done by the public officials.

Some Hamburg residents choose a different district to marry in because of the beauty of other town halls or the geographical closeness. However it is not garantied to get your date of choice or you would have to wait more than a year for that. Otherwise you can order a registrar to your location of choice or during the weekend. But this would be connected with higher costs.

Wedding couple photoshooting
Even with an only green field beautiful photos can come out. Credits: Anna Chojnowska for Fall4Me

Usually the registry office gives the couples to get married a time of at least four months. This time shall help the couples to prepare not only for the wedding but as well mentally to be sure of the wedding.

Is a civil marriage connected with costs?

Yes, as I have already mentioned before a civil marriage is connected with costs. You pay for the work the registrars do, the marriage certificate you receive and the documents required to get married civil (most of the documents you receive from the civil office you are registered in by birth or residence).

We in particular have chosen the most elemental way to get married: a work-day (however close to the weekend with Friday) and the registry office we are registered in. For that we have paid about 120,- €.

Attention: We or rather my husband have fallen into more costs as the civil office worker had adviced us wrongly. My husband was born and registered in another city when we first went there to inform ourselves about getting married however just one week later he was to move to Hamburg, nevertheless the office worker told us that he had to get his papers from the registry office of his city for the next official date in the registry office. This turned out to be wrong. In the end he got the same papers from the registry office in Hamburg and had to pay twice for that. So: if you know you are going to move to the city you are to get married in when register your wedding officially then do not get your papers from the registry office you come from.

The payment is taking place the day you officially register your wedding. You can pay cash or by card.

Which documents are needed for a civil marriage?

In this point I am just leading from couples who have not been married before and live in Hamburg or rather Germany. In that case you need the following documents:

  • your identity card or passport
  • your birth certificate

If you are not from the city you are to get married in you as well need:

  • a certificate of bachelorhood (you get it from the registry office you were born in)

All other documents required you are going to get from the registry office.

When registering your wedding officially you should latest by that have decided who is going to be your witness and the couple should have dediced what on their lastname.

Signing with the new lastname
I think it is cute when a partner accpets the other partner’s lastname. There is no more beautiful way to show the love. Credits: Anna Chojnowska for Fall4Me

Who is coming to a civil marriage?

A bureaucratic civil marriage of about one hour is usually witnessed by the circle of the closest family since many couples do the civil marriage on one day and the free or church wedding another day. We have set our civil and church wedding on one and the same day among others since I cannot reconcile it with my conscience. After that we have had our family parties twice celebrating this big event.

The reason why the civil weddings are kept in a small circle otherwise is because of the size of the room.

The registry office in Hamburg-Nord has two rooms for the wedding:

  • one with a size of 17 seats
  • one with a size of 11 seats

Even though our circle was more than 17 people we have chosen the bigger room for making the most important people having their seats. To that we have counted our grand-parents and parents as well as women on high heels and ourselves along with our witnesses. With an amount of 23 we have perfectly matched into the room even if not everyone was sitting at every time but our guests seemed to change seats sometimes.

Registry office big room
Credits: Fall4Me
Registry office big room
Credits: Fall4Me

So you should better know your guests on the one hand but as well not overestimate the space of the room if you get married in the registry office.

Wedding day: duration, event and what to keep in mind

The question of all questions for many reasons: how long does the event take? We have not stopped the time but thinking back of it with waiting for all our guests to arrive and because of that starting a few minutes later as well as receiving congratulations and taking photos with each other guests it took about 45 minutes and our registrar did talk a lot.

The couple to get married along with their witnesses have to arrive 15 minutes before the event to register once again with their identitiy cards. Yes, even though the couple’s identity cards have been scanned previously 4 months ago they have to bring their identity cards once again.

Guess what: I have left my everyday big handbag at home being sure not to need it with all my important things in it. My wedding handbag was with my bridesmaid who accidently came by another car later on. I was lucky that the worker of the registry office could excuse it and accepted the scanned version of my identity card. In any case: bring your identity card with you! I could not know that my relatives would bring my bag with them.

registering before the wedding
Happy despite having forgotten the identity card. Credits: Fall4Me

About taking photos: from one of my best friends who got married two years ago in the registry office of Altona I have found out later on that it was not allowed to take photos inside the room. In our registry office nothing concerning that was said. We were surrounded by cameras all the time.

taking photos in the registry office is allowed in Hamburg-Nord
Credits: Fall4Me

The last question concerning the arrival: No matter if it is your own car, a rent car or taxi I would never expect a beautifully and festive made up guest to come by foot or public transports (subway or bus). If a taxi may be too expensive do not worry: the registry office in Hamburg-Nord offers good possibilities of parking with a parking lot of maximum 18,- € or every 45 minutes 2,- € which would take 4,- € having in mind the duration of the wedding. That should be acceptable for every guest. For further information you can check the official page of the parking lot.

District authority Hamburg-Nord registry office
Credits: Anna Chojnowska for Fall4Me
Music players for a day full of weddings
Friday 07/28/17 was a day full of civil marriages. Us wedding couples congratulated each other all the time even though we did not know each other. Outside the office singers and players were waiting. Credits: Anna Chojnowska for Fall4Me

Next time we will meet on Friday 11 am for the next article.

Love, Johanna

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