In case you are considering to have your wedding in Frankfurt am Main – or Germany in general – it’s likely that you are facing difficulties finding information. At least, that is what I experienced. For that exact reason, I am happy to share my tips and recommendations.
In addition, it was such a beautiful day that I am happy to recap it here.
First notes on required paperwork
Frankfurt is a marriage-busy city and getting your wedding license and a date might cost you a lot of time.
The city of Frankfurt has an office dedicated to family law matters (the ‘Standesamt‘). The Standesamt however, has long waiting lists and are not easy to reach (there is no public email address and you will have long waiting times on the phone).
You will have to arrange everything in person as none of the procedure is digitalized. The opening hours of the Standesamt are limited and your best chances are to go before working hours (07.00am onwards). Once you are there, be prepared to deal with typical German government-coarseness (computer says no).
Be sure to reserve enough time for the administration process.
Foreign nationality & Documentation
In case you are having a foreign nationality, you will need to provide extra documentation, such as an international transcript (or official translation) of your birth certificate. The best way to figure out which documents you will have to hand over, is by giving the Standesamt a visit.
You often can’t make a reservation for your first meeting with the Standesamt, and you will have to go there in person. As said above, you’re probably most successful by going there early in the morning. You’ll get a waiting ticket and one of the employees will tell you which documents are required for you to get married in Germany.
This declaration – depending on the issuing jurisdiction – is usually valid for 6 months. In case the date of your wedding is away more than 6 months, you will have to renew the declaration to ensure the validity of the statement on the day of your wedding.
In my case, I had to pay the Amsterdam city hall a personal visit twice to request this document.
Reserving a date for your wedding ceremony
Once the Standesamt approves all your documentation, you are eligible to reserve a date for your wedding ceremony.
We got this approval only after we were able to produce all original documents in person.
Together with reserving a date for your wedding ceremony, you need to indicate how many printed (international) certificates you would like to have of your marriage license. We opted for two, to make sure we could provide the Dutch Wedding Registry with an original.
Another choice you will have to make at this point in time is whether you will take over your partner’s last name. Be sure to double-check with the regulation of your home country, as this type of family law is often covered by mandatory laws.
On a practical note: make sure that you carry cash money with you, as your date will only be reserved once you have paid at the Standesamt.
Civil wedding ceremony & locations in Frankfurt
Different than in other countries, you can only get married in certain, appointed locations in every city.
For Frankfurt, that list can be found here. No extra locations can be arranged (even not with a formal request).
The Roemer city hall is the only location that is offering slots all year round, but only gives you 20 minutes to get married (booking two slots is not possible) and a limited amount of seats (ranging between 20-40 chairs).
Some locations, such as the Bolongaropalast or the Palmengarten, offer you more time with around an hour for your ceremony and more room for customization.
With limited availability (only given days in the spring and summer season), these places are very popular and you will have to reserve a date and time well in advance. It is common that a certain hotline opens only one day a year (details are not published on the website of the Standesamt, but provided by during appointments at the Standesamt).
Once we had a reserved date, we were surprised to learn that the official who would marry us would not have time to meet us upfront, but only had time for a short call. Even though it made me feel a little weird, I have to say that the lady who married us did a brilliant job.
Most German couples forgo this hassle by having a simple and short ceremony in the city hall with only a handful of close family attending. The next day or same evening, they invite all guests for the party.
In case there is no other possibility than to get a slot at the City Hall, but you still want to have a more personalized ceremony you might want to consider to have a simple wedding in the city hall (such as the Roemer) and additionally do a ceremony (‘Freie Trauung’) done by a friend (although that does not constitute a legal marriage under German law). Getting Married in the Palmengarten
We wanted to have all our family and friends at our wedding ceremony. For that reason we decided against a ceremony in the city hall (as not all of our guests would have fitted in) and were lucky enough to get a date in the Palmengarten. The Palmengarten is Frankfurt’s botanical garden and truly beautiful all year round.
As said, this is one of the special locations to get married in Frankfurt and there are only a handful of dates available every year. It is possible to reserve a date through a hotline that opens one day a year. Note that you can only make a reservation through this hotline if an employee of the Standesamt has approved all of your documents to get a notice of marriage.
It took us an hour of dialing to get through to the hotline, but we were lucky enough to get a reservation for a date in May.
Within the Palmengarten the ceremony takes place in ‘Haus Rosenbrunn‘, which is a freestanding glasshouse for roses and really cute.
The glasshouse is yours for an hour, and all of your guests can enter the premise for free (normally the entrance fee is 7 euros a person). What is really great is that you can still enjoy a toast or small reception within the botanical garden and you can stay as long as you like together with your guests.
We used the greens next to the glasshouse to have a champagne-picnic, which we were allowed to bring ourselves. We loved the fact that it gave such a low-key, chilling-shoes off atmosphere to our day.
In case you are less of a picnic-type you can arrange nibbles and drinks with the different cafeterias that are on the property (Lafleur, Siesmayer, Gesellschaftshaus Palmengarten). This would also be your safe bet in case it might be raining, as they can set up tents for you as well.
What I really love about the Palmengarten as well, is that the background of every photo is filled with greens and flowers. That also made it easy to do a quick photo-shoot without having too miss to much of our own party. Activities
Once you have a set wedding date, the fun part can start.
We made it our goal to have our guests travel as little as possible on and around our wedding day, as most of them already flew in from abroad.
In addition, we really wanted our wedding to feel like a little holiday for both ourselves and our guests.
The evening before our wedding we arranged a dinner for all guests at a traditional Frankfurt restaurant. The Proletariat is a truly cozy, low-key place that was incredibly welcoming and made it possible to pre-order large plates of starters and mains for everyone to share. The fact that we could reserve the place to ourselves (roughly 60 of our guests), made everything feel really great with everyone easing into the festivities.
On the day of our wedding we spent around 1.5 hours in the Palmengarten for our ceremony and a toast (picnic) on the greens.
Afterwards we took the Ebbelwei Express, which is basically an old-fashioned tram that you can rent for events and parties, and that serves Frankfurt’s traditional apple cider. The tricky part is that even though you reserve the tram for a certain amount of time to yourself, it can’t wait (or block the rails) too long while waiting for all guests.
For this reason, we booked two shuttle busses (we had really good experiences with this firm) for our guests to get to the main train station, where everyone entered the Ebbelwoi Express,
All worked out perfectly and as we made a round through Frankfurt, it was aweseme to sit down, enjoy the views (fresh air) and catch up with every one.
In the Ebbelwoi Express, you are allowed to bring your own food, which we did by ordering bread baskets at this bakery that delivered to the shuttle busses at the Palmengarten.
As a surprise for Anton, I arranged that he (and his best man) were picked up by an oldtimer Rolls Royce, and I found this rental service really brilliant.
Reception, Dinner & Party
We were lucky enough to get in touch with the Restaurant of the Literaturhaus, which is an iconic building in Frankfurt.
It might have been the best part of our wedding. The guys of the Literaturhaus are truly awesome! They were incredibly friendly, patient and did everything to make our day as special as possible. The food, wine, service and personal touch made it all truly unforgettable.
They arranged a dj for us, a microphone and screen for all speeches, and even made sure that most of their staff was speaking Russian (!) on the evening of our dinner to make sure all of Anton’s grandparents could communicate easily. In addition they arranged everything to accomodate our band on their terrace (including all of the electronic gear). We arranged our wedding cake & flowers ourselves, but we could’ve ordered those through them as well.
A big plus was also that they didn’t mind at all to let the party continue deep into the small hours.
The jazz trio that we booked to start the evening with drinks on the terrace was the Porterhouse Trio. In many ways the music made everything feel so special! We can only highly recommend these guys.
To us, this was the most perfect day to get married, and I couldn’t be more grateful for all the happy memories we made together with our closest family and friends. I hope these tips & recommendations will make it easier for you to organise your wedding. And by any means, please do not hesitate to contact me via the comments or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if there’s anything you’d like to know more about.