Saturday, September 17, 2005

The Civil Ceremony...

The Civil Ceremony...

European countries have several customs and procedures that are quite 'foreign' (or at least unfamiliar) to us Americans. One of the chief of these is the civil wedding ceremony that is part of the German (and other continental) traditions.

Essentially, the civil ceremony, as I understand it, is the legal and binding element of the marriage. In Germany, you must establish, or reference, a 'Family Book' that delineates the family tree. The ceremony itself is performed by a magistrate (or other governmental official). It is conducted in an office at the city hall ('Rathaus') and generally includes the bride, the groom, their witnesses (generally the maid/matron of honor as well as the best man). The parents and other family members may or may not be present.

The ceremony walks the couple through the legalities and obligations of the marriage partners to the state. The marriage relationship, citizenship of each party, and the parentage are detailed. The magistrate will often give a short admonition to clearly delineate the responsibilities of each party has when entering the marriage contract. The bride and groom each must sign documents and exchange their rings. [Note: This would appear to be part of the German emphasis on maintaining 'orderliness' in society.)

The entire ceremony took between 30-45 minutes and represents the 'real', ceremony that marries a couple. The religious ceremony can occur anytime thereafter, if desired. But this is the ceremony that is necessary to be officially married in Germany in the eye of the state.

I am attaching a couple of photos of Tasha and Istvan taken at this civil ceremony for you benefit. Tasha made a beautiful bride and I was so proud of her. She wore a flattering dress and Isti looked great in his new suit. [Grace may add more fashion comments later...]

The next posting will focus on the celebrations that took place after the ceremony and other events of the afternoon...


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