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Getting Engaged to a German: Part 1 of German Weddings

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Expat in Germany: Getting Engaged to a German: Part 1 of German Weddings

Monday, October 25, 2010

Getting Engaged to a German: Part 1 of German Weddings

Getting engaged to a German is the first of a four part post on German Weddings.  Getting engaged to a German holds different significance in Germany than it does in North America.  In North America, getting engaged is a big deal, in Germany not so much (although the German wedding is a big deal of course).  We first came across this when dealing with German Immigration.  We asked if there was an Engagement Visa as there is in the U.S., but there's no such thing in Germany.  Either you're married or you're not and we were not.

The other difference is that Germans generally don't have engagement rings.  Earlier when the couple is dating, the guy may have given the girl a promise ring, (a much smaller ring than a typical engagement ring) but when he asks her to marry him, there will likely be no engagement ring.  This is different than in North America and sparked some interesting discussions between J.P. and myself.  This past year he wanted to buy me a promise ring for Christmas.  I really didn't want a promise ring as I don't wear much jewellery and thought we would be getting engaged soon and that an engagement ring would be enough.  At first, he took offense to this, saying a German girl would be thrilled to get a promise ring.  I pointed out the fact that I'm Canadian, not German and that promise rings weren't very popular with the 30 something crowd in Canada. He relented. 

Initially he wasn't so sure that I "needed" an engagement ring since we would be living in Germany where engagement rings are not common, but when he saw that all my friends  did indeed have engagement rings along with their wedding bands, he realized that this was indeed a common thing in Canada.  And as I  pointed out that even though we would be living in Germany, I would still be very much a Canadian.   He seemed to understand this logic and I am now happily wearing a sparkly engagement ring.

J.P. was true to his word though, when I arrived in Germany, I was busy checking everyone's fingers for engagement rings, and he was right, they are not popular here at all.  He said that most Germans wouldn't  assume my ring was an engagement ring, since they're not common.   Regardless of whether anyone but the two of us knows what the ring represents, I'm happy that this is one Canadian custom we adopted for our own German wedding next year. What has been your experience with German engagements?

See also:
German Wedding Ceremony.  Part 2 of German Weddings
German Weddings, the Reception and Dance.  Part 3 of German Weddings
German Wedding Gifts:  Part 4 of German Weddings



At October 26, 2010 at 10:12 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi! I don't think I have ever commented on a blog before. I was happy to see this as my boyfriend and I are "in the process" of getting engaged. I say in the process because it just seems to be so different than in the US. He wanted us to go together to buy the rings, which just seemed so strange. I also know that he ordered the rings last I guess they are not about surprises! My boyfriend was willing to buy the sparkly engagement ring, but I opted for a wedding band with diamonds all the way around, which is much better than the typical daimond chip! I realized that so much (almost too much!) importance is put on the ring in the US, so I really like the idea of sticking with the German tradition. I told him he needs to buy me nice jewellery with each kid! :-)

At October 27, 2010 at 9:28 PM , Blogger WaAussie said...

I am not sure about Germany, as I yet have to descend onto their shores next month to live there compared to just visit. But the engagement ring in Austria (just across the border) is the actual wedding ring just worn on the other hand, you basically just swap over the ring when you get married. Therefore I thaught that same custom existed in Germany?
We compromised, and I got an engagement ring that looks like a wedding ring but it has a stone in it and then became the wedding ring after we got married in July.
Yep and in Aussie the bigger the stone on the ring the better :)

At October 29, 2010 at 11:30 AM , Blogger Expat in Germany said...

Thanks so much for your comment Anonymous, especially since you don't normally comment on blogs and Congrats on your upcoming engagement! Thanks so much for sharing your experience! We also picked out my engagement ring together. I think this is a German thing, as we've done the same thing for Christmas presents. It seems that getting something that you like is more important than the surprise element, which once you get used to it, I quite like. I think your idea of going for a diamond wedding band is a great one, especially if you plan to live in Germany where no one has an engagement ring. Also like your plan for future jewelery :)

WaAussie, I've seen a few rings that could have been engagement rings but my fiance said they could have just been a nice ring, but I've actually seen very few rings that look like engagement rings in Germany, so maybe it's different in Germany, than Austria (I'll be checking out people's hands the next time I'm in Austria:) Sounds like a great compromise. We debated whether my engagement ring would just be my wedding ring (I was in favor of this), but my fiance wasn't since it doesn't look like an wedding ring. Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I've very curious about why Austria is different.

At October 29, 2010 at 1:41 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG, I enjoy so much reading your blog! What I like the most is that I not only learn some stuff about Germany, but also about your Canadian point of view :-). I had no idea of what promise and engagement rings are, and whether there was a difference with the wedding ring or not.

Keep doing!

At November 3, 2010 at 11:54 AM , Blogger Expat in Germany said...

Thanks so much wonkham, I appreciate it. If you're ever in Canada, you can ask any woman the difference between promise and engagement rings and she will definitely be able to tell you the difference :)


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